Meet Mike Van Graan, facilitator of the Atelier Gothenburg 2018

7 August 2018

The 14th edition of the Atelier for Young Festival Managers will be held in Gothenburg in a few weeks. During this 7-day programme, some 35 participants will have the opportunity to exchange and share their ideas, projects and ambitions with presenters and mentors coming from all over the world. For this exchange to be as constructive and extraordinary as possible, the role of the Atelier facilitator is crucial. You can find out more about the programme here

Following the first Atelier held in Africa, Johannesburg (March 2018), The Festival Academy is delighted to work together for the second time with Mike Van Graan, Founding President of the African Cultural Policy Network - South Africa. 

Mike Van Graan has been assuming leadership positions in South African cultural organisations, particularly in the Anti-apartheid ones. Amongst other roles, he was Director of the Community Art Project, Project Officer for the Congress of South African Writers and General Secretary of the National Art Coalition; in 1994, he was appointed Special Advisor for Art and Culture to the Prime Minister in a newly democratic South Africa.  He was appointed by the city of Cape Town to coordinate the One City, Many Culture Festival, promoting intercultural exchanges. He served as Secretary General at the Arterial Network, a Pan African network of artists, cultural activists and creative enterprises contributing to human rights, democracy and development in Africa.

By assuming all these positions, Mike Van Graan emerged as an influential persona in the Post-apartheid Cultural Policies and development of Cultural strategies in South Africa. He was appointed by UNESCO in 2011 as a Technical Advisor to develop cultural policies and strategies aligned with the 2005 Convention in the Global South.

His will to develop leadership within the African creative sector, lead him to the African Art Institute (AFAI) where he served as an Executive Director until early 2016, and to one of the largest multi-disciplinary Festival in South Africa: the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival where he was a Board Member for five years.

Mike Van Graan is also considered one of the South Africans leading contemporary playwrights, with thirty plays on his curriculum. From 2011 to 2014 he was an Artscape’s Associate Playwright.

In recognition of his contribution to the fight against apartheid and the building of a post-apartheid society but also to the study of the interface between peace and culture – in his home country and across the African continent – Mike Van Graan has received the Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture Award in 2018.  

Find out more about Mike Van Graan here