Mike Van Graan: African Perspectives on Cultural Policy
13 Aug 2019

In “African Perspectives on Cultural Policy”, the last of three videos by international experts invited to the first Arts and Culture Entrepreneurship (ACE) program workshop, playwright and African Cultural Policy Network President Mike Van Graan offers insights into cultural policy in the Global South, drawing from the experience and case of South Africa.

How can we maneuver around cultural policies? How can art makers avoid becoming victims of cultural policies, and rather influence the policy formulation process? Van Graan’s five-minute video brings these questions to the forefront and takes the African continent, and South Africa more specifically, as a case study on how to organize in a coalition to better influence cultural policy.


Mike Van Graan is the President of the African Cultural Policy Network, a member of UNESCO’s Technical Facility on the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and an award-winning playwright. After South Africa’s first democratic elections, he was appointed as a Special Adviser to the minister responsible for arts and culture, playing an influential role in shaping post-apartheid cultural policies. He has served in leadership roles in anti-apartheid and post-apartheid cultural formations, as well as in Pan-African organizations like Arterial Network, promoting the creative sector and its contribution to human rights, democracy and development.

The ACE program fosters a collective space for reflection on sustainability and is designed to inspire, invigorate and strengthen small and medium cultural institutions, based and working in the Arab region, and whose initiatives engage with communities. Eight arts and culture institutions participate in each cycle of the program and benefit from three extensive workshops, training and one-on-one mentoring in the areas that contribute to more sustainable organizations: communications and storytelling, resource mobilization and fundraising, case studies from diverse sectors, peer-to-peer learning and exchange, strategic planning, as well as concepts of design thinking, startups, and the different business models that they can adopt. The program further offers an incentive grant for each participating institution to implement an innovation activity aimed at improving their institutional resilience.