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Sylvia Arthur | Research Trip

Switzerland | Literature

April-May 2022 — Literature

Sylvia Arthur is the Founder of the Library Of Africa and The African Diaspora (LOATAD) in Accra, Ghana, a library, archive, and museum dedicated to collecting the work of African and Diaspora writers from the late 19th-century to the present day. During her research trip in Zurich, Switzerland from 14 April to 12 May 2022, Sylvia will visit various Swiss literary institutions located both in and outside of major cities to learn more about sustainability models.

Sylvia will base her research primarily at Literaturhaus Zürich, where she hopes to learn about building, running, and sustaining a large-scale literary institution with particular reference to funding, branding and marketing, programming, and audience attraction and retention. She will also visit nearby institutions and organisations including Strauhof and Wyborada in St. Gallen, which like LOATAD, have niche literary focuses. Sylvia then also plans to spend a considerable period of her trip at Fondation Jan Michalski, where she is interested in learning about the residency programme and how the organisation operates within the rural context.

A secondary dimension of Sylvia’s trip is to investigate the role literary institutions play in the placemaking of a town or city, and how such institutions develop meaningful relationships with communities that include local residents as well as attract wider national and international audiences.

Sylvia says, “My hope is that this trip will mark the beginning of a relationship of mutual learning, support, and exchange between Swiss literary institutions and LOATAD.”


Alongside her work at LOATAD, Sylvia Arthur is an essayist and playwright whose writing explores themes of African identity, diaspora, and place. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, Lithub, the BBC, and The British Journalism Review and her essay, Britain’s Invisible Black Middle Class, appears in the anthology, Know Your
Place, a collection of essays on the British working class (Dead Ink, 2017). Sylvia has received numerous prestigious grants and fellowships for her writing, such as to Hedgebrook Writing Residency in Washington State and Santa Fe Art Institute in New Mexico, USA in 2016. Her plays have been staged in the US and UK to wide acclaim. In 2017 Sylvia moved to Ghana, where she founded LOATAD using 1300 of her own books. She holds an MA in Narrative Nonfiction Writing from City University, London.