The crucial role of arts and culture in a time of global crisis

April 22, 2020

Arts and culture are crucial in a time of global crisis. And we’re not alone in thinking this. Together with the DOEN Foundation and Prince Claus Fund, we affirm our continuing support for artists and cultural organizations. “We all need inspiration to help us work through difficult times and imagine a different future.” Read our full message of solidarity (in French and English).

Culture must not be forgotten in the search for a pathway through this worldwide crisis.

The availability of cultural content contributes to our mental health and wellbeing. Many cultural institutions have provided online and free content in recent weeks for that purpose. Some of Hivos’ cultural partners have also done important work producing local reports on the crisis or making face masks for local health workers.

Three initiatives

Take for example Science Camp in Basra, a maker space in Iraq.  The Science Camp is an art club and scientific research center originally supported by our Mideast Creatives program in 2015. They have now re-purposed the laser cutting machine we funded back then to produce 500 protective face masks a day.


Bustop TV in Zimbabwe is a youth-run media house producing satirical skits on social issues to promote civic education. It has started roving coverage of the nationwide lockdown and its effects in smaller cities and towns.

Mfalme Productions – an animation studio that focuses on politics, corruption and social integration in Kenya – has embedded messages about preventing and managing COVID-19 in its popular satirical video series, Makarao.


Supporting creative work

Art and media have the power to question dominant structures in society, propose alternatives and bring about change. Through our program R.O.O.M., Hivos supports the work of new generations of makers of culture and media productions around the world who strive for openness and lead the resistance to shrinking civic space.

Some of our funding goes to small-scale initiatives. Like new audio-visual artworks and safe online/offline environments for makers. But we also (co-)organize larger projects, like African Crossroads, an annual retreat for future-oriented thinkers and doers. And the Digital Earth research fellowship for artists who investigate our current technological reality.