Pro Helvetia, a Swiss cultural foundation headquartered in Zurich, has helped shape cultural policy in Switzerland since 1939. Focal areas in the work of Pro Helvetia include promotion of contemporary artistic endeavour in the fields of music, literature, theatre and dance; presentations of Swiss culture abroad; and the encouragement of cultural exchange and cultural dialogue, not only among the various parts of the country but with other countries as well.
For the past 13 years, the liaison office in South Africa has assisted with the work of Pro Helvetia on the African continent. In some cases through a cooperation arrangement with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), it promotes projects in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, as well as in Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi and Angola. The objective of the foreign work undertaken on the part of Pro Helvetia is not only to raise awareness of the art and culture of Switzerland, and to develop important regions and markets for Swiss cultural operators. Through a residence programme, the foundation can provide artists from Switzerland, and South African artists as well, more extensive professional and cultural experience in one another’s’ countries.