Regional Arts and Culture Programme (RACP)

Project completed

Southern Africa has a strong artistic heritage and cultural tradition which exudes from the talent of its diverse people. However, this rich heritage has been stifled by the lack of capacity, networking and resources among artists in the region. Through this programme, Switzerland supports art organisations and individual artists in Southern Africa to bring fresh perspectives, build on available cultural resources and strengthen the arts and culture sector’s contribution to development in the region.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Culture / development awareness
Culture & recreation
01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021
CHF  1’461’572
Background Most countries in Southern Africa continue to grapple with a number of challenges in the arts and culture sector. Most activities in the sector continue to take place within a context of limited policy, financial support, infrastructure and insufficient opportunities for exposure to audiences. The lack of government support to the sector makes it difficult for artists to network, travel across the region and increase their outreach. The lack of support is even more difficult for women artists who lack role models, are discriminated and lack skills and training. Income-generation is extremely limited and professional arts remain a relatively small sector, however one that has potential in societal development.
Objectives To contribute to the creation of a more connected cultural audience in Southern Africa, through supporting transnational collaboration, circulation of relevant quality new work and professional development to promote regional cohesion and generate new opportunities for artists.
Target groups
  • Arts organisations that support transnational collaboration, networking and production (strategic partners).
  • Individual artists with a measured focus on young women artists.
  • Cultural operators.
  • Audiences across the SADC region, with a particular focus on under-resourced urban and rural contexts.
Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1: A strengthened network of artists and organisations across the region supporting new work and artistic and professional exchanges at a regional and continental level.

Outcome 2: Enhanced access to key markets and audiences for artists in the region.


Expected results:  

  • Professional exchange and opportunities generated among artists in the region.
  • Improved capacity and competence of artists is enhanced through residencies, collaborations and professional exchanges.
  • Evidence for advocacy to public and private sectors in the SADC is produced.
  • Mobility grants for artists supporting professional development, networking and project development are availed.
  • Mobility grants to groups and organisations supporting the presentation of work at key platforms and skills/knowledge sharing are established.

Results from previous phases:  

The RACP has promoted cultural exchange resulting in regional cohesion and new opportunities for artists and audiences.

  • A total of 2’000 arts practitioners directly participated in 129 projects linked to research, network development, skills and knowledge exchange across the region.
  • 67 projects that produced new works reached more than 30’000 people through performances & exhibitions in the region.
  • 156 micro-grants through ANT funding were disbursed allowing artists to better connect with audiences.
  • In 2017, the RACP was awarded the Diplomacy in the Arts Award by the South African Business and Arts Committee for exceptional work in promoting artistic and cultural exchange.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Private sector
Swiss Non-profit Organisation
  • Foreign private sector South/East
  • Pro Helvetia

Other partners
UNESCO, Business and Arts South Africa, Arts and Culture Trust, Culture Fund, Africalia, Hivos and EUNIC
Coordination with other projects and actors Pro Helvetia – Swiss Mandate, SADC Secretariat, SDC Embassies in Southern Africa.
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    1’461’572 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    1’425’345
Project phases

Phase 2 01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021   (Completed)

Phase 1 01.01.2015 - 31.12.2017   (Completed)