History & Background


Zip Zap was founded in Cape Town in 1992, to inspire young people and help build a new culture of peaceful coexistence in South Africa. Working with a diverse community of children from all backgrounds, Zip Zap helps kids to ‘dare to dream’ and learn to make those dreams a reality. Zip Zap’s programs are all free to participants, with financial and material support coming from individuals, organisation, corporations and foundations. In South Africa and the world, Zip Zap is recognised across Governments, Ministries of Education, Tourism, Arts & Culture and private societies, as a major contributor to the development within the iconic ‘Mother City’ and providing sustainability of the circus arts in South Africa.

Zip Zap is dedicated to supporting and conducting training in circus arts and performance as a powerful tool for social transformation, youth empowerment, team building and community upliftment. The programs provide opportunities for young South Africans from very different backgrounds to play, learn and live together using the medium of circus training and performance to model and demonstrate the possibility of true coexistence.

Zip Zap operates predominantly within the Western Cape. However, as the annual calendar of events varies from year to year, Zip Zap periodically tours internationally and nationally presenting performances and/or skills transmission programs.

The Zip Zap children have performed for presidents and world leaders. They have done more than 30 international tours and numerous international media showcases. Kids, who began as six-year-olds swinging from a trapeze tied to a tree, are now professional performing artists working in Europe and North America. Young people who grew up on the streets are now skilled and valued artists and technicians in the entertainment and film industries. Best of all, these kids have become teachers themselves. They are ambassadors and role models for others, demonstrating dramatically to young people and the wider public the possibility of a new way of treating each other.

Zip Zap 25 years of changing people’s lives:

1992 – beginning of Zip Zap
1994 – first tour to Grahamstown, South African National Arts Festival
1995 – show for president Mandela 77th birthday and SABC television reports and 2nd tour to Grahamstown
1996 – first international tour to Denmark for the Images of Africa festival
1997 – second international tour to Switzerland and France
1998 – moving to 1’200m² warehouse + performed 150 shows all over the country
1999 – third international tour to Houston, USA to represent South Africa at Sub Saharan Arts Festival
2001 – first professional troupe leaves Zip Zap to perform in France, Belgium, Monte-Carlo, Germany and Sweden
2002 – Zip Zap invited to perform at the prestigious International Circus Festival in Monte-Carlo and in Italy at the Festival of the city of Latina
2003 – Zip Zap goes to Spain biggest TV show “children talent” Veo Veo and takes 5th place
2005 – Proudly South African – “Bridge Building of the Year” finalist
2006 – Sappi “Ideas That Matter” winner + performs at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne
2007 – Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain, Paris, France – Nikouline Russian clown award to Joka boys
2008 – set-up of dome in Founders Garden and roof wetting show “Once Upon A Circus”
2009 – Brent van Rensburg winner of the Men’s Health trophy for Public Service + Zip Zap performs for Red Bull in Austria

2010 – Zip Zap creates “Art of Rock” with the Parlotones and Paul du Toit painting live in the dome

2011 – Creation of Zip Zap UK, registered charity - Brent van Rensburg Mayor’s Medal for Youth Affairs

2012 – Zip Zap produces Art of Rock 2 with Freshlyground and Paul du Toit in the dome for 5’000 people + Laurence Estève Knight of the National Order of Merit from French government + opening of the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in Paris, France

2013 – Pan-African Awards winner for Entrepreneurship in Education (10’000 USD)

2014 - relaunch of Zip Zap full time vocational training programme Dare to Dream, performs in Namibia, performs for 17 NGOs, schools and charities

2015 - Zip Zap runs 9 different programs reaching 1’400 youth, performs in Namibia and Nigeria

2016 - Zip Zap performs at the White House Washington DC, USA for Halloween, performs in Spain for the AIDS Foundation, creates SIDEWAYS show, performs with band AL BAIRRE

2017 - Brent and Laurence receive the Paul Harris fellowship fromthe Rotary, Zip Zap turn 25, performs in Zurich for Roger Federer foundation, performs in Reunion Island for the Leu Tempo Festival, receives a Laureus award, performs with the Parlotones 25LIVE, performs with the Cape Phlarmonic Orchestra JOURNEY, opens its new ACADEMY