2023 Annual Report

21 June 2024


In 2023, global challenges made us rethink our place in the world and how we handle and learn from adversity. What kept us focused on our mission was working towards a future where free cultural expression is valued.

Cover: "Torita-encuetada" by Elyla.

In the words of our Director, Marcus Desando, "...we have seen time and time again that arts and culture are not just avenues for self-expression but powerful tools for challenging established norms and empowering marginalised communities".

Culture is a force for change. Even the smallest acts of artistic and cultural expression can have transformative and positive impact on a global scale. At the Fund, our mission is to serve the global cultural community of artists who tirelessly prove the transformative power of culture.

Our work focuses on three main thematic areas: Equity, Freedom, and Climate. Cutting across all our programmes, these themes are relevant globally, but manifest themselves differently in each local context our awardees work in. 

Explore the impact stories of 2023

Among our highlights from the year are not one but two pilot initiatives: of the FELLOWS Award Moving Narratives and our new Programme, Fertile Ground.

Courtesy of Mark Teh
By Mark Teh

Through Moving Narratives, developed in collaboration with the British Council, we aim to re-examine legacies of the past, centre the perspectives of marginalised communities, and forge connections between contemporary emancipatory movements and their historical roots. You can meet the artists of Cycle 1 here.

An important lesson we have learnt over the years is that our Seed Awardees can greatly benefit from extended opportunities beyond a one-off financial grant. That's where Fertile Ground comes in: we partner up with key organisations from our global network to provide our Seed Awardees with further opportunities and connections within a global cultural landscape. The programme offers artists a platform to showcase their work, participate in residencies or workshops, reflect with peers, form new connections, and meet with mentors who guide them in catalysing their professional development.  

Courtesy of 2023 Seed Awardee Mugisha Frank

Speaking of our ever-inspiring Seed Awardees, in 2023 we welcomed 100 new Seed Awardees! These emerging socially engaged artists embody the spirit of innovation and fearless experimentation. Hailing from 63 different countries and selected from almost 2000 applications, the 2023 Seed Awardees are a cohort of creatives contributing to more equal and sustainable societies.

Mobile Lab Morocco by Mohammed Chakroun
Mobile Lab Egypt by Heba Khamis

To serve needs on the ground while enabling collaborative knowledge sharing, we introduced our Mobile Lab events. Last year saw the Labs trotting the globe for three editions, co-curated with the 2022 Impact Awardees. The first Mobile Lab of 2023 took us to Morocco, where Hassan Darsi presented a programme of workshops, guided tours, an exhibition, screenings, and a book launch. The Mobile Lab in Egypt was co-curated with May al-Ibrashy and the organization, Megawra—Built Environment Collective, and it featured a public symposium, exhibition, public talks, and cultural visits. And the third Mobile Lab of 2023 led us to Argentina where María Medrano and prison abolition collective YoNoFui co-curated days of cultural visits, workshops, performances, and a public parliament session.

"Seeing Like a Fund" by Aad Hoogendoorn

As all of this shows, 2023 was an introspective year for us. Seeing ourselves as part of a community means being part of a wider conversation and advocating for the values we believe in. Our newly launched series, "Seeing Like a Fund", brings together cultural changemakers from our network to critically examine vital issues shaping how culture is supported globally, sparking new ways of thinking about funding and being a funder.

Read about these and many other stories in the 2023 Annual Report!

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