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 (split between Santiago and Sao Paulo). We also run a cultural centre in Paris and work 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 sub-Saharan 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.
The Johannesburg office is presently exploring a decentralised approach to our work, with a team spread across Johannesburg, Kampala and Abidjan. 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 collaborations. Our international 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 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 sub-Saharan Africa and Switzerland.
Why the European Union is committed to promoting arts and culture in Uganda
“The European Union (EU) is one of Uganda’s main partners engaged in a number of areas, ranging from political dialogue to trade relations, from support to regional connectivity, to art and culture.
Although the covid-19 pandemic has imposed a slow-down of all activities, it has not impacted the EU’s firm commitment to support Uganda in its endeavor to advance its development agenda. The EU and its Member States stand beside Uganda in addressing the covid-19 emergency.
As soon as the restrictions are lifted, and in compliance with the instructions of the Ugandan authorities, we will be delighted to resume the work with AfriArt Gallery for the Fourth Edition of the Kampala Art Biennale (KAB) in 2020.
The KAB is not only an occasion to talk about art from the aesthetic and creative point of view; it also presents opportunities for building new jobs around art and for empowerment, particularly for young people, in the creative spaces. The arts remain an important vehicle to communicate, reflect and learn in a non-conventional yet very effective way.
Now, more than ever, art provides a much-needed space to reflect on life, community, and our place in the world. This edition of the KAB20 includes an important new feature: arts workshops, targeting vulnerable youth, will be organized to promote intercultural and community dialogue. The goal is to improving young people’s self-awareness about their role in the society as rights holders but also duty bearers.
On the other hand, similarly to the previous edition of 2018 –supported also by the EU – the KAB20 will provide young artists with the opportunity to learn as apprentices of 8 internationally renowned artists. The joint masters/apprentices work will result in the creation of the original artworks expected to be exhibited in Kampala in August 2020 – or later, if deemed necessary due to health restrictions.
I profoundly hope that the covid-19 emergency will soon be over with no further sufferings and fear, and will allow the rescheduling of the KAB20 as well as other activities.
– Attilio PACIFICI Ambassador/Head of Delegation European Union Delegation to Uganda
The third Kampala Art Biennale, The Studio, was supported by the following partners:
The second Biennale titled “Seven Hills”, held in 2016 was supported by the following partners:
The following partners have have been instrumental in the first Kampala Art Biennale in 2014, titled: "Progressive Africa".