Open Call: Pro Helvetia Johannesburg Welcomes Submissions for ‘Breathing Space’

Pro Helvetia Johannesburg is soliciting for applications and project proposals from artists, organisations and networks from across sub-Saharan Africa to enable a ‘Breathing Space’ for art practitioners.

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With the recent events that have seen the economic situation of many artists, businesses and organisations on the continent affected, Pro Helvetia Johannesburg is exploring international exchange and collaboration in the arts. While physical movement may be limited and restricted due to the ongoing global health crisis, there is the need to dig further to discover creative possibilities that can be explored in the digital space to serve as a medium for the creation and reception of artistic work.

This present call looks to enable a modest ‘Breathing Space’ for arts practitioners, organisations and networks across the sub–continent to rethink ways of working and reimagine the shape and position of cultural and creative work. The call is intended to open up opportunities to experiment with new possibilities and formats for artistic production, exchange, collaboration, presentation and reception, responsive to the complex demands of the present time at both a very local and global level. 

This call will support both new ideas and existing initiatives, and are open to proposals pitching new formats and approaches as well as projects that use this moment of global rupture to engage more deeply with or interrogate older methods and practices and archives – or indeed to do both. Analogue and digital approaches are equally welcome. It is not expected that proposals should address COVID–19 at the level of theme or content.

Selection Criteria

  • Clarity of purpose
  • Intended outcome/s and methods? (Is it clear what you want do and why?)
  • Originality in concept and methods, artistic quality and relevance (Will the project contribute something new and significant to the field in concept and approach? Will the project have a life beyond the immediate stage covered by the grant?)
  • Track record and professionalism of the applicant and their network (Will the project be professionally executed?)


  • This opportunity is open to artists, collectives and organisations in the following discipline, including music, performing arts, visual arts, literature, design and interactive media, and inter-disciplinary work from across Africa, excluding North Africa (a separate opportunity is available for this region).
  • Note that cinematographic film (long form, short form and documentary content for cinematic screening or televisual broadcast) is excluded from Pro Helvetia’s mandate.
  • Applicants should be actively involved in the professional arts field on the subcontinent.
  • Activities covered by the grant should be completed and reported on by the end of March 2021.
  • Only one application per individual/organisation.
  • Requests should be between US$ 2100 – US$10,500). The more precise, specific and clear the budget is in relation to what you are trying to achieve, the better.

Application Procedure

Applications should be made through the online portal at

Submission should include:

  • A concept note, of not more than 4 000 characters, summarising the Why? What? How? Who? dimensions of the project.
  • An indicative timeline and budget.
  • Please use the downloadable Applicant Budget Template. If your application is successful, this template can also be used for reporting.
  • Information on the applicant, and any other individual or organisational partners involved.
  • If relevant, the applicant should indicate how local COVID-19 related public health and safety measures will be applied.

Deadline: 31 August 2020

For inquiries, please email or visit here.

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