NAPAC was founded on 25 July 1963 under Chris Lombard as the first director.
The first office premises were two small offices in Acutt Street, Durban. They would later move to the Arts Centre 43 in Albany Alley for three months, before settling in a more permanent building, which was a former nursing home in Overport, fondly known as “The Crows Nest”.
The National Playhouse Complex became NAPAC’s official premises in 1986, where all the art departments operated from, including the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, which was founded in 1963, as well as The NAPAC Dance Company, the Loft Company and the Musicals department.
In the late 1980s reductions in state funding and pressure from political organisations led to NAPAC going through a process of transformation and between 1993 and 1994 it was restructured. This in turn led to many being retrenched, while a new board of art directors was appointed. During the restructuring Mbongeni Ngema was appointed as the art director for the Musical Theatre Department. NAPAC was later replaced by a newly formed entity under CEO Johann Zietsman and The Playhouse Company was launched in 1995.