The Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) was commissioned to restore the ‘Grand Lady’ of Arts and Culture in Nelson Mandela Bay, situated at the corner of Castle Hill and Belmont Terrace, on behalf of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and with the financial support of the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF).


The Athenaeum was founded in the 1850s to promote cultural activities. It then died out in the 1880s. In 1893 however, the Young Men’s Institute, the School of Art, the Naturalists’ Society and the Camera Club combined, to re-assert the right of the Athenaeum to occupy a part of the City Hall. The Town Council offered to bear most of the cost of building the present-day monument, which was opened in 1896. In the early years of the 1900s the Athenaeum was mainly a social club and temporarily changed its name, but it has since become a centre for cultural and social activities once more. After the Second World War, the Port Elizabeth Musical and Dramatic Society rented and enlarged the Loubser Hall extension, which is now known as the Ford Little Theatre. The building is one of the few examples of the classical style of architecture in the city and was designed by George William Smith. It was declared a national monument in 1980.


The Athenaeum and the Ford Little Theatre have both been completely restored and are a hive of activity with productions, music, art interventions and exhibitions being held there. Arts organisations of Nelson Mandela Bay are encouraged to join the Athenaeum and benefit from the facilities and promotions that N_MB City productions have planned for the venue. To plan your future production / art event at the Athenaeum please contact the administrators: N_MB City Productions.


c/o Castle Hill and Belmont Terrace, Port Elizabeth


Asanda Mlata

Tel: 041 585 1041
Cell: 073 0616 744


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