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Pro Helvetia to open office in South America

The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia is due to open an office in South America in 2021, with staff members located in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, as a follow-up to the successful «COINCIDENCIA – Swiss & South American Cultural Exchanges» programme. The programme was launched in 2017. It supported numerous projects by Swiss artists in South America and enabled cooperations involving Swiss and South American cultural practitioners and institutions. The new office will allow Pro Helvetia to consolidate existing international relationships and add an important seventh region to those already covered by its global network of offices abroad.

The «COINCIDENCIA – Swiss & South American Cultural Exchanges» programme was launched within the framework of the Swiss Government’s 2016-2020 Cultural Policy Statement («Kulturbotschaft») in order to promote the dissemination of Swiss arts and culture in South America and to strengthen Swiss-South American cultural exchange. Around 250 projects, including exhibitions, concert and theatre tours, reading tours and residencies, have been realised since 2017. They have led to cooperations between cultural practitioners and institutions in Switzerland and their counterparts in ten South American countries.

In view of the great cultural potential and the successful groundwork laid, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia has decided to establish a permanent presence in South America once the «COINCIDENCIA» programme, which is limited to four years, comes to an end in 2021. The aim is to continue the partnerships forged by the programme in the arts disciplines that the Swiss Arts Council supports. These comprise visual and interdisciplinary arts, music, literature, design and interactive media. The new office will also initiate collaborations in connection with Pro Helvetia’s new focus on arts, science and technology as well as residencies and research trips.

Pro Helvetia strives to promote a constructive and critical dialogue between Switzerland and the cultural regions in which its offices are located that does justice to the diversity of artistic and social perspectives of the participants involved. «Multilateral relations are of great importance in the world of culture, too. The opening of a Pro Helvetia office in South America is a marked enrichment of our global network. The consolidation of our cultural dialogue with the South American continent in this time of upheaval represents a great opportunity for cultural production both in Switzerland and the regions we are represented in,» said Philippe Bischof, Director of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

In view of the continent’s geographic expanse and diversity, the office will comprise four locations: Santiago de Chile (management), São Paulo, Buenos Aires and Bogotá. The six local staff members all have in-depth knowledge of and excellent connections to  their region’s cultural scenes, and will help forge partnerships between local and Swiss cultural practitioners. They are, moreover, all native speakers – Portuguese for Brazil and Spanish for the remaining countries.

With its presence in South America, Pro Helvetia’s global network will henceforth comprise seven major regions around the world. They are, besides South America: the Arab countries (office in Cairo), Southern Africa (Johannesburg), Russia (Moscow), southern Asia (Delhi), China (Shanghai) and the Centre culturel suisse in Paris for the French-speaking world.

Webinars in connection with the opening

For the opening of Pro Helvetia’s South America office, event partners in Argentina, Brazil and Chile are organising webinars on social and cultural policy issues. Participation in the webinars is free and open to everyone.

Webinar «Race & fiction», event platform Planta, Argentina: (13. to 29.11.)
The webinar is dedicated to the decolonisation of cultural institutions in Argentina. It explores colonial links to the discrimination of indigenous people and PoC (People of Color), looks into content-related and structural connections to Switzerland and spotlights the role of the arts in this context.

Webinar «Open-ended encounters», art collective Aarea, Brazil: (4. to 6.12.)
The pandemic has removed our body from physical encounters and multiplied it digitally. The webinar confronts participants with digital representations of themselves and others. Experiments with media-based forms of encounter are conducted in a virtual exhibition room.

Webinar «Co practices: principles and challenges for (co) production, (co)llaboration and (co)curation», Centro Gabriela Mistral, Chile (9. to 11.12.)
Against the backdrop of the referendum on Chile’s constitution on 25 October 2020, the webinar explores the political and social solidarity between arts institutions. What future is the new generation of politically committed arts practitioners building for itself? The webinar explores methods of cultural participation and the role of the arts and culture in democratic processes.

Further information and registration:

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Media information:

Media Release
Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, 27.10.2020