College of Magic

College of Magic
Type NPO
Established 1980
Director David Gore
Administrative staff
Students 150
Location Cape Town, South Africa

College of Magic is a non-profit organization (007-517 NPO/NGO) based in Cape Town, South Africa that teaches magic to people from various levels of society with the goal of creating social empowerment. College of Magic addresses key community concerns at grassroots level.

The Director, David Gore, has been with the organization since its inception.

It is the current holder of 17 national and 2 international awards. College of Magic graduates perform throughout South Africa and the world. College of Magic is a member of the International Jugglers' Association (IJA).


College of Magic opened its doors on 23 February 1980 and is the only one of its kind in the world. It was established with the aim of providing performance-arts training for aspirant entertainers from all sections of Cape Town’s community.

In 1992, College of Magic moved into its present home, a renovated Victorian house in Claremont, Cape Town. It was officially opened in 1995 by the Ministry of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology as the Magical Arts Centre. The College – with the help of the community – has restored the building and developed its facilities for its unique teaching and training needs.



College of Magic is engaged in performing-arts education and training and specializes in training young people – children from the age of 10 years and upwards – in the art of magic and the allied arts of juggling, ventriloquism, mime and clowning.

The unique curriculum consists of six core courses that are structured hierarchically, with each course increasing in complexity, expectations of the learner and skill mastery. In the first three years, students are introduced to the basics of magic including presentation skills, the theory of entertainment and the essential elements of controlling an audience. During the fourth, fifth and sixth years, the curriculum becomes substantially more demanding in terms of the technical requirements and the theoretical aspects of entertaining. Students focus on entertaining children, sleight of hand, close-up magic, stage magic, magic with animals and stage illusions.

The courses are geared to encouraging individuality and innovation; hence workshops are frequently included as part of the course, where students can build their own props and experiment with new ideas. The nature of the courses is instructive, where opportunities are fundamental for learners to continually "go back" – i.e. to refine, rehearse, improve and become more competent "magical" performers at that particular level. Embedded in each course is a cycle of action that includes:

The syllabus of each course is regularly assessed and upgraded wherever necessary. The required standard of performance is monitored closely so that uniformity and excellence are maintained. Lessons are held on Saturday mornings, and tutorials are arranged at other times direct with the instructors.


The staff can be segmented into the following categories:

1. The Non-Executive Board of Management - College of Magic is governed by an experienced board of trustees who are responsible for all decision-making in line with the constitution of the organization. Both their chairperson and their treasurer are graduates of the organisation. The executive director and founder of the College, David Gore, has served the organisation for 27 years.

2. The Administrative Staff - The administrative staff is responsible for the day-to-day running of the organization.

3. The Voluntary Teaching Staff - The College started with three teachers. It has since grown to include professional magicians, experienced teachers, specialists in the various allied arts, graduates of the College, administrative staff and visiting lecturers (local and international). The expertise and nurturing approach offered at the College has continued to grow over the years with staff development courses being ongoing. The staff are responsible for all aspects of the courses they are teaching, including syllabus development, lesson preparation, one-on-one tutorial sessions and grading of student progress. The teaching staff is the backbone of the organization, and all 14 members are volunteers.

The Magical Arts Centre

College of Magic is currently resident in its own premises situated on Lansdowne Road in Claremont Cape Town. These premises were officially opened as the "Magical Arts Centre" (MAC) on 24 February 1995 by the then Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology.

The MAC consists of a double-story Victorian house with a wrap-around porch upstairs and downstairs, and is situated on 1840 m2 of property. The building has a very homely feel with a large entrance foyer and a mini-theatre that can comfortably seat forty people. Five rooms are used for teaching purposes and two further rooms are available for tutorials. One of the teaching rooms is a fully equipped video studio which provides an excellent medium for training. There are sound and recording facilities available, as well as limited lighting equipment that is used to provide students with an all-round knowledge of show business. There is a kitchen-come-staff room and four offices, one of which doubles as a reception area. There is a library-come-social room where students can socialise and take out books and videos. This library is one of the largest magic museums in South Africa and houses five collections of books: the Museum Library, the Cape Magician’s Circle Library, the Junior Library, the Senior Library and the extensive Staff Library. There is also a collection of videotapes and DVDs, which form an integral part of the teaching process.

The building has a courtyard in which the College’s animals are kept. There are two large shipping containers in the back garden; one stores an extensive collection of stage illusions, magical props and costumes; the other is a fully equipped workshop for the students and was developed through the sponsorship of the Old Mutual Foundation.


While the human resources of the organization are by far its most valuable asset, there is a desperate need to consolidate and develop its physical resources:

The Solution

On Tuesday 13 March 2007, the College (007-517 NPO) launched a capital fundraising campaign, entitled "13 Magical Milestones". The campaign target was set at 1.3 million South African Rand (approx. $186,000 US Dollars), which would cover the costs of constructing and furnishing the "Imagination Centre and Secret Garden" development, extensive renovations to the existing building and grounds, and the amount owing on the building.


In 1997 the Siegfried & Roy SARMOTI Grant was established enabling disadvantaged young people to join the College and experience the world of magic. Delivered in person by their emissary and coordinator, Lynette Chappell, the Siegfried & Roy SARMOTI Grant heralded a new era for the College of Magic.

Called the Magic in the Community project, it allows a group of students to be transported for weekly lessons from their destitute homes in the Cape Flats to the fantasy-fulfilling world of the college.

College of Magic Film Documentary

In 2007, director Daniel Roth filmed a feature-length documentary about the College; it is entitled "Do You Believe In Magic?". The film follows the lives of students Lesley and Mfundo as they struggle to realize their dream of winning the College annual competition and so advance to the annual World Teenage Magic Championship in Las Vegas.

"Do You Believe In Magic?" premiered at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles on 9 February 2008 and it was also selected for the 2008 International Film Festival of South Africa.

See also


    External links

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