Our Story

artlink connects culture, art and people – in Switzerland and across continents. We promote artists from Africa, Latin America, Southeast and Southwest Asia, and Eastern Europe in Switzerland.

What artlink does

Since its foundation in 1984 artlink has promoted the work and performances of artists and cultural practitioners from Africa, Latin America, Southeast and Southwest Asia, and Eastern Europe in Switzerland. By facilitating their access to the Swiss cultural landscape artlink creates opportunities for and showcases these artists and cultural practitioners from the aforementioned regions in Switzerland.

artlink is committed to the inclusion of people with migration experience in the Swiss arts scene. artlink promotes exchange among cultural practitioners across different cultural contexts and forms of artistic expression. In doing so artlink fosters the diversity of the Swiss cultural landscape.

artlink – a versatile organism

artlink is an independent association. Its board consists of four members and its team has six staff. Their work is supported by several experts and project staff based in the funded regions or in Switzerland. We work with renowned national partners funding culture and development as well as with public and private arts donors in Switzerland.

The artlink staff brings together people with diverse biographies and work experiences. They share a desire to explore and pilot transcultural forms of cooperation. At artlink diversity, participation and inclusion are not just slogans – they are what we practice on a daily basis.

Questions that motivate artlink

What does the transcultural and intercontinental arts funding institution of the future look like? How can a contemporary cultural organisation realise its commitment of building inclusion and promoting participation? What does 'international' and 'collaborate' mean in the digital age? What are new forms of mobility beyond physical travel? How can a globally operating arts organisation not only discuss the world but incorporate it, and affect it?

How are aesthetic decisions made and who makes them? How can we continually question our artistic quality criteria and adapt them to changing realities? How does artlink create access to cultural productions beyond the mainstream? How can we include and collaborate with artists and partners from different regions of the world on equal standing? We see artlink's amibition in creating answers to these questions. Our competencies develop from the insights that we gain in this process.

artlink working principles

Before we act, we listen. This requires meeting and exchanging with artists and partners on an equal footing. We design our work processes in participatory manners. The needs of artists and our partners are the starting point when we develop new projects and concepts. We involve artists and cultural practitioners in shaping new funding formats. We recognize that cultural promotion is not a democratic process. This is why diversity among external jurors who support artlink in advisory capacity is important. Diversity manifests itself in different aesthetic understandings and includes discussions about artistic conceptions of quality. This requires an ongoing engagement with and discussion of existing approaches and instruments in global arts production.

We regularly review our working principles in dialogue with trusted outsiders and adapt them where and when necessary. We are receptive to criticism and admit mistakes. Failure, self-criticism and humour help us moving forward. Pausing and reflecting are part of artlink's working process. Reflection is the foundation on which we design new interventions. We communicate our values, positions and decisions in a transparent way. We share our experiences with peer organisations and other interested parties. In doing so, we promote a critical dialogue with artists and partners.

Join the conversation!

Would you like to join the conversation about our work and its thematic areas? artlink appreciates debate and lively exchange. We create space for physical and digital encounters. We ask questions instead of making demands. We don't always agree but we like to be convinced - join the conversation!

artlink's policy context

An important framework for artlink's work is the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions of 2005, which Switzerland ratified in 2008. The Convention posits that a creative economy not only generates jobs and income, but contributes to the strengthening of civil society, a diversity of ideas and freedom of expression. The Convention encourages established cultural markets, which are internationally connected as is the case of Switzerland to support artistic initiatives in parts of the world that lack a dynamic cultural economy.

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