Pro Helvetia Johannesburg is one of six Liaison Offices of the Swiss Arts Council located in major regions of the world – the other five Offices are in Cairo, Moscow, New Delhi, Shanghai and most recently in South America. Pro Helvetia also runs a cultural centre in Paris and works in cooperation with partner institutions in Rome, Milan, San Francisco and New York.
The Johannesburg Liaison Office promotes artistic and cultural exchange between Switzerland and Southern Africa as well as urban centres in East, Central and West Africa. To raise awareness of Swiss contemporary arts in the region, we forge ties with local organisations and event organisers, develop and nurture long-term partnerships, initiate co-productions with artists from the region and organise residencies.
Activities and Focus
The Johannesburg office is currently exploring a decentralised approach to our work, with a team now spread across Johannesburg (South Africa), Kampala (Uganda) and Abidjan (Ivory Coast). We look to engage with dynamic art scenes across the subcontinent, working with and through local partners around the realisation of projects concerned with artistic and professional exchange and collaboration, and the presentation of significant work, often emerging from transnational collaborations. Our work is guided by the interlocking criteria of quality and relevance.
Our programme is interdisciplinary and exploratory in nature. Special emphasis is placed on the disciplines of music, contemporary dance, theatre/performance, and visual and digital arts and design. We have also started to explore possibilities for working in the literary field. We encourage work that forges connection between the world of the arts and other fields of inquiry and work. We also support exchanges around critical issues and questions facing artists and the arts field within the differently demanding and complex realities of the African subcontinent and Switzerland.