During the course of the last month, the global dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic have become manifest in alarming and sudden ways, not all of which can be fully grasped at the present moment. While Switzerland moves into a critical phase of the human impact of the pandemic, the coming couple of weeks will be fundamental for mitigating the impact in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa more generally. Some of the effects in our field are being immediately and painfully felt on the livelihoods of a wide spectrum of arts professionals in both contexts, with the cancellation of festivals and events and the closure of venues. Other more systemic effects for the cultural field in both Southern Africa and Switzerland – and to the project of international cultural exchange more generally – will only become evident in the weeks and months to come.
Pro Helvetia is committed to supporting our global network of artists, partners and organisations in finding new and relevant means of connecting, collaborating, creating, presenting and responding in these unprecedented circumstances. In the coming weeks our office will be working closely with artists and partners towards the reconfiguration and/or postponement of planned projects, tours and residencies. Cancellation will be a last resort. We are also open to ideas and proposals from the field for sustaining exchange and collaboration between our region and Switzerland during this period of extreme constraint on mobility and physical proximity.
Our Director, Philippe Bischof, has explored these questions in greater depth here.
Our Zurich office has set up an informational hub aimed particularly at the Swiss cultural scene, also providing information about measures that the Swiss government is taking to provide emergency relief to individuals and organisations and compensate for losses in the Swiss context (see also link on right).
On a practical level, our Johannesburg team will be operating remotely until such time as the situation stabilises. Our phone line has been redirected, so you can still get in touch with us via phone at +27 (0)11 403 1880 and/or email (see below).
Programme Manager: Music
Finance and Administration Manager
Regional Arts Programme Administrator
(Image © Valentina Pini)