2018 represents the 20th anniversary year of Pro Helvetia’s presence in South/Southern Africa, alongside Cairo celebrating thirty years in the MENA region and New Delhi marking ten years in South Asia.
For the Johannesburg office the anniversary year provides an opportunity for us to initiate new and interesting joint programming possibilities among the three involved liaison offices and Zurich, informed by the interconnected histories and contemporary experiences of these world regions. We also look to make visible a distinguished track record of exchange and collaboration in our region. Finally, we seek to pause and reflect – with partners in Switzerland and the region – on the role and position of Pro Helvetia in the region in ways that would inform the general approach of the office going forward. On this last point, we also use the year to explore new relationships with partners in major urban centres on the subcontinent beyond the traditional confines of our region – in the first instance, in Lagos, Dakar, Bamako, Accra, Addis Ababa, and Nairobi.
In September we will convene a gathering of the partners that we work with currently or in prospect from across the sub-continent. We look at an open and imaginative format for the gathering with invited orchestrators of conversations and inquiries, with the aim to think together about the questions and issues facing the cultural field in the region and the subcontinent in the coming years.
During the course of the year we have a number of projects planned with key partners in South Africa that would bring arts professionals from Switzerland and the regions of the three liaison offices together. We explore interesting formats for these encounters aimed at exchange, networking and collaborations towards the production of new work, as well as showcasing existing projects that have emerged from connections between the three liaison offices.
We also then look to develop a small publication marking this moment of ‘backward-forward’ looking, that would draw on the discussions and material generated out of the March gathering, for launch in November/December 2018.
See the “Programme” page for more information about upcoming events that happen in the frame of the anniversary year.
The Johannesburg office of the organisation was originally established in 1998 in Cape Town under the leadership of Mirjam Asmal. Working with a small, agile team, the organisation rapidly established a strong reputation in South Africa for unusual, bold and independent artistic programming, with the quality of work and exchanges being an over-riding criterion. Colin Miller was also instrumental in this period in nurturing a fertile ground for exchange and collaboration in the jazz field, which continues to yield rich returns under the current stewardship of music programme manager Germaine Gamiet.