Our Offices & Partners Abroad


CROSSROADS – conference


The conference took place at

Kollegienhaus of the University of Basel (Aula)
Petersplatz 1
4051 Basel
Google Maps


conference & conversations


Cultural well-being is an essential part of the overall wellbeing of any society. It means more than heritage preservation. Artists function as mirrors, interpreters, critics, educators, builders and forerunners of society. Their practice has the potential to provide some answers to the accelerated increase of global challenges and complexities – be they environmental, economic, political or social in nature. Based on numerous examples, the conference intended to shed light on this crucial role played by the arts and the associated challenges they face, and discuss how supporting institutions can respond to these challenges.

The conference was held in English.

Thursday 08/02

8.30 am – 9.00 am
Registration & coffee

9.00 am – 09.50 am
Opening address

With Philippe Bischof (Director, Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Switzerland) / Tatjana von Steiger Weber (Deputy Assistant Director General SDC, Deputy Head of the Directorate Global Cooperation, Switzerland) / Elisio Macamo (Associate Professor of African Studies, University of Basel, Switzerland) / Rima Mismar (Executive Director, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, Lebanon)

10.00 am – 11.30 am
Cultural rights under pressure – a contemporary arts perspective

While cultural rights are widely understood as a universal human right, the degree to which they are acknowledged and upheld varies greatly from one place to another. They include access to and participation in cultural activities, cultural diversity and freedom of expression, and their observance has a direct impact on the world of contemporary arts. What role does or could international support play in protecting these rights?

Moderated by Céline Yvon (Advisor, arts and social change, Switzerland)

With Patrice Meyer-Bisch (Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Institute for Ethics and Human Rights (IIEDH) and of the UNESCO Chair for Human Rights and Democracy, University of Fribourg, Switzerland) / Abdullah Al Kafri (Executive Director, Ettijahat – Independent Culture, Lebanon) / Folankunle Oshun (Curator, Nigeria)

12.45 pm – 2.15 pm
How to talk about what no one wants to talk about?

Demographic, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities are faced with marginalisation, violence and the suppression of their histories. These topics are highlighted in the work of many critical artists today. Varying (political) contexts require distinct strategies and formats to make these issues accessible to a broader audience. What are such strategies and what obstacles do artists face when taking up such issues?

Moderated by Sophie Vögele (Scientific Associate, Institute for Art Education Department of Cultural Analysis, Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland)

With Lineo Segoete (Writer, researcher, photographer and archivist, Lesotho) / Yvonne Wilhelm (Artist (knowbotiq) and researcher at IFCAR, Institute for Contemporary Art Research at the Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland) / Nina Bandi (Philosopher and PhD student, Lucern School of Art and Design, Switzerland) / Mandeep Raikhy (Dancer and choreographer, India)

2.45 pm – 4.15 pm
Arts, politics and power

Art and politics are closely intertwined. Artists are often important critical voices in the arena of political discourse, with the arts functioning as a means to challenge conformist narratives and dominant discourse. By proposing alternative perspectives, they can call into question our habitual political views and practice.

Moderated by Federica Martini (Art historian and curator, Dean of Visual Arts at the ECAV/Sierre, Switzerland)

With Y. S. Alone (Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi, India) / Ragheda Andoni (National Program Officer, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Swiss Cooperation Office Gaza & West Bank) / Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa (Artist and researcher, United Kingdom/Uganda/Norway) / Lindsey Doyle (Strategy and development, Media + Arts for Peace Initiative, United States) / Adel Abel Wahab (Artistic Director, Theater is a Must Festival, Egypt)

Friday 09/02

8.30 am – 9.00 am
Registration & coffee

9.00 pm – 10.30 pm
Creating safe spaces: the grounds of independent arts

In contexts characterised by a severe lack of space to create and showcase artistic work, or where institutions limit the access to a selected few, many artists choose informal or public spaces to share their work. This appropriation of space often creates new infrastructures, audiences, networks and scenes, beyond formal structures.

Moderated by Rahel Leupin (PhD student in Performance Design, Roskilde University, Denmark)

With Mantse Aryeequaye (Director, Chale Wote Festival, Ghana) / Sofiane & Selma Ouissi (Co-founders, Dream City, Tunisia) / Jelili Atiku (Artist in residence and Assistant Professor at the Department of Africana Studies/Brown Arts Initiative, Brown University, Providence, United States) / Laza (Director, Rencontres du Film Court de Madagasikara, Madagascar)

11.00 am – 12.30 pm
The digital realm – risks and opportunities involved in occupying virtual space

Digital – or virtual – space has fundamentally reconfigured the realms of communication, knowledge management and building networks. It also offers a variety of possibilities for artistic production and for the diffusion of art. How is this space to be navigated and what are the risks and opportunities involved?

Moderated by Akshay Pathak (Head, Pro Helvetia New Delhi, India)

With Emilie Bujès (Artistic director, Visions du Réel Nyon, Switzerland) / Achal Prabhala (Writer, India) / Jamal Nxedlana (Co-founder/Creative Director of Bubblegum Club, South Africa) / Darija Medic (Digital Art Project Coordinator for DiploFoundation, Switzerland)

1.45 pm – 3.15 pm
Arts and development policy: how do they connect?

Why is the support of an independent, dynamic arts scene a valuable objective in development cooperation? What are the challenges and what best practices exist? How can development cooperation contribute to an independent arts sector and how can the underlying policies be optimised? What should be considered when supporting artists internationally?

Moderated by Rahel Leupin (PhD student in Performance Design, Roskilde University, Denmark)

With Regula Gattiker (Senior Advisor Conflict Transformation, Helvetas, Switzerland) / Anmol Vellani (Founder, Indian Foundation for the Arts, India) / Gertrude Flentge (Programme Manager, DOEN Stichting, The Netherlands) / Romain Darbellay (Director of Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland in Tunisia)

3.45 pm – 4.15 pm
Closing session

With Christoph Keller (Head of the department for social and cultural affairs, SRF2, Switzerland)

Upcoming maintenance work

The application portal myprohelvetia will be updated from 1.1.-7.1.2024. Due to these changes, open applications must be finalized and submitted via the current online portal (myprohelvetia.ch) by the latest 23:59 on 31 December 2023. Until this date, the deadlines and criteria outlined in the current guidelines and calls for applications apply. New applications can be created and submitted in the application portal as of 8 January 2024.