The new Chief Executive Officer of the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (Pacofs), Peter Pedlar, has spent the last few weeks learning all he can about the current state of the centre, before he can hit the ground running.
“Pacofs must be the place to be seen, heard and be as soon as possible; that is my vision. I feel like I’m on a treadmill at the moment because the vision that I sold to the people who employed me, is the vision I want to implement,” said Pedlar.
Originally from Kokstad, he calls Pietermaritzburg his second home. He’s still finding his feet in the City of Roses, and is very happy with the reception he has received here.
Pedlar has a wealth of experience spanning more than two decades, where he has worked at senior level as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Operating Officer (COO) and acting/deputy Chief Executive Officer. He has a long history of working in the arts and culture industry. Prior to this new post, he was Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Artscape, a position he held from 2016 to 2018.
“Let’s not stare blindly at the shortcomings of Pacofs. We must build on what is here. My short-term focus is to get our maintenance schedule up to scratch and fix what is broken. I’m not going to tamper with what is not broken. Some of the infrastructure is in very decent shape, while some of it is not at all, starting from the outside.
If I come to your house and your front garden is full of litter, I’m not interested in going inside anymore. So it has to start right at our front gate, where we need to make people feel welcome. I want to see moms and dads and toddlers coming here as soon as they are big enough to behave, sitting here in our theatre seats, enjoying shows,” he said.
Having been fortunate to be exposed to a lot of theatres in his life, he added that he was still in awe at the quality of the Sand du Plessis theatre; however, more education needs to be rolled out regarding theatre etiquette. “More needs to be done to educate the patrons. I’m not happy that people eat and drink in the theatres. That’s taboo. That’s why we have intervals, and pre-event offerings to the patrons.
When I visited the national theatre in Ghana a few years ago, as you enter they have a little sand box with a sign saying ‘Please place your gum here’. I’ve walked into theatres in South Africa and you touch the chair and suddenly feel a piece of gum stuck there; it’s unhygienic,” he added.
With many exciting upcoming shows planned for the next few months, Pedlar said that Pacofs’ stage is open for business. “There are people who want to dress up and go out for the night.
Come here. Let’s have a glamorous experience. Walk on our carpets and feel that you are appreciated. And I hope to bring that era back, obviously to a diverse mix in terms of our audience, and I really want to grow our audience. Pacofs is on the up,” he concluded.