Our history

Established on 6 September 1996, the Fund has been serving engaged artists and cultural practitioners in places where culture is under pressure. Explore some of the Fund's highlights throughout the years.

+153 million

people reached through media outlets featuring the Prince Claus Fund.

“Now, more so than ever, it is imperative to amplify Palestinian narratives, and to support those currently documenting the ongoing atrocities.”

Participants of the Fellows Award Arab Documentary Photography Programme (ADPP) who collectively showed solidarity with the people of Gaza and their fellow ADPP photographers.

Fertile Ground

We piloted Fertile Ground, a programme to further invest in our Seed Awardees and the larger cultural infrastructure in the Global South to create a blooming resilient and interconnected artistic global ecosystem. 

“As we may know, the most valuable asset for an artist is freedom, and freedom comes in different forms, such as finance, access, and time.”

Kwamena Boison

Kwamena Boison is a social entrepreneur, multidisciplinary art enthusiast, and fashion designer based in Ghana. Drawing significant inspiration from centuries of sustainable Ghanaian fashion and artistic culture, Kwamena redesigns and makes aKwamena Boison is a social entrepreneur, multidisciplinary art enthusiast, and fashion designer based in Ghana. Drawing significant inspiration from centuries of sustainable Ghanaian fashion and artistic culture, Kwamena redesigns and makes art by collecting textile waste from landfills, bodies of water, and Kantamanto—one of the largest secondhand clothing markets in West Africa. Kwamena is the founder and head of design at AFRODISTRICT and THE REVIVAL, a community-led sustainable design initiative creating art with upcycled global textile waste, which has received recognition from international platforms, such as BBC, Channel 4, and France 24, among others. He has also worked in collaboration with fashion and culture brands, such as Ozwald Boateng, Art Comes First, M+Rc Noir, and Harris Elliott. Kwamena is the founder and head of design at AFRODISTRICT and THE REVIVAL, a community-led sustainable design initiative creating art with upcycled global textile waste, which has received recognition from international platforms, such as BBC, Channel 4, and France 24, among others. He has also worked in collaboration with fashion and culture brands, such as Ozwald Boateng, Art Comes First, M+Rc Noir, and Harris Elliott.

“One of the biggest takeaways from the past year is that I am not alone - many of the challenges I face are universal. There are those who dare to dream radically, and in concert with me.”

Mika’il the Muezzin

Mika’il the Muezzin is a storyteller, translator and social sculptor based in South Africa. His work centers around spatial storytelling and design for social impact and he aims to listen, unearth stories, and be a catalyst for translating user-experiences into spatial outcomes. Mikail’s practice is focused on intersectionality and the outcomes of his work lies at the confluence of space making, gender, sexual & ethnic identity, and social justice. His design practice fluently blends the modalities of architecture, urbanism, storytelling, film, graphic and exhibition design, and research.

Mobile Labs

Mobile Labs in Morocco, Egypt and Argentina brought together Prince Claus Awardees with regional cultural practitioners in a weeklong programme that delved into the transformative practices of Hassan Darsi, May al Ibrashy and Maria Medrano. 

“I strive to tackle urgent social, political, and environmental issues, shedding light on marginalized communities,” – Ngoc Nau (Vietnam) new media artist and participant in the first Fellows Award: Moving Narratives focused on re-examining histories and cultivating emancipatory imaginations.

Ngoc Nau

Ngoc Nau is a new media artist based in Hanoi, Viet Nam. Throughout her wide range of research topics and fields, Ngoc mixes observations with life experiences and imagination. Some of the artist’s main early inspirations come from philosophical ideas about the cosmology in Buddhism and the structure of light coming from physical theories. Ngoc is also interested in the development of new technologies that have the power to change people’s view on the world. Starting from a macro perspective, she gradually moves to a micro level using real stories of daily life to find ways to build connections between the larger system and her own community.Ngoc has presented works at Documenta 15 via Sa Sa Art Projects collective, ArtBasel Hong Kong (2023), ThaiLand Biennale (2021), and Singapore Biennale (2019), among others.

1899 applications, 60 different countries, 100 Awardees — the 2023 Seed Awardees embody the spirit of innovation, social engagement, and fearless experimentation.

International Advisory Board

A new Prince Claus Fund International Advisory Board was inaugurated: 9 inspiring individuals advise us on relevant contextual development, our strategy and the regional impact of our work.

“The first Prince Claus Fund Biennial Symposium provided a rare opportunity for artists and cultural practitioners from the region to come together in a setting and context where the region's art and societal challenges were the focus throughout.”

Ujjwala Maharjan

Ujjwala Maharjan is a poet and educator from Kathmandu, Nepal. She believes in arts education as a pathway to a more empathetic and inclusive society and explores trauma-informed practices and narrative approaches with artists and educators. Upon her return to Nepal after finishing her Master’s in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, she decided to slow down and hold poetry and storytelling workshops. Throughout the pandemic, she was inspired by her former students and colleagues to study and experiment with the art of rap and hip-hop. Ujjwala is one of the co-founders of Word Warriors, a poetry group leading the spoken word movement in Nepal.

Seeing Like a Fund

We organised Seeing Like a Fund, a series of events that bring together cultural changemakers to critically examine how culture is supported globally, sparking new ways of thinking about and doing funding.

We awarded the first ever biennial Impact Awards to six trailblazing individuals in Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Egypt, Morocco and Senegal.

Building Beyond

The first cycle of Building Beyond brought together 12 inspiring practitioners reimagining the future of African cities online, in Accra and in the Netherlands. 

“The Prince Claus Fund Seed Award has been a pivotal catalyst for my artistic growth and recognition on a global scale. I really appreciate the freedom, network and platform that the Prince Claus Fund provides.”

Arpita Akhanda

Arpita Akhanda is an artist based in Santiniketan, India, whose work involves paper weavings, performances, installations, drawings, and videos. During her artistic journey, Arpita has performed at Teertha International Performance Platform (Sri Lanka) and Chittagong Art College (Bangladesh). She has participated in India Art Fair’s residency program (2022), Gästatelier Krone Aarau’s residency program in Switzerland (2021), and Piramal Art Residency (2019-20). In addition, Arpita has received the Emerging Artist Award Extended Support Platform from FICA and Mrinalini Mukherjee Foundation (2020), State Award Fellowship in New Media from Prafulla Dahanukar Art Foundation (2019), and National Scholarship by CCRT Ministry of Culture of India in Painting (2016).

Cultural Emergency Response

From July 2022, our long-term programme Cultural Emergency Response launched as an independent entity spearheading heritage rescue in response to disaster.

We were joined by our new director, Marcus Tebogo Desando, who took up his post at the beginning of 2022.

Next Generation Programme

The Next Generation programme came to an end. From 2028 – 2022 it supported; 64 projects in 42 countries, a network of 13 partners, 3 Next Generation awards, 23 Exchanges initiatives and 15 teams of independent researchers.

New Strategy

A new strategy with at its core three different Awards and trust-based funding given at important stages in the professional journey of socially engaged cultural practitioners was designed after deep reflection on how to maximise our impact.

"Art is showing us what a better world could look like, giving us tools to dream with, inspiring us, uplifting us when everything else is falling apart, giving us hope."

Chidumaga Uzoma Orji

Chidumaga Uzoma Orji is a creative technologist and visual artist born and based in Nigeria. He has exhibited his work at ‘Here, There, Everywhere’, Format Festival (2021), CultureHub ReFest (2020), and Lagos Photo Festival (2019). With his work, he’s interested in observing and creating representations of society and of history as visual metaphors that unpack the millennial Igbo Nigerian cultural context and explore post-colonial crises of identity by exploring how digital technologies can be used as tools to access ancestral truths in the present day.

The Fellow Award Cultural and Artistic Responses to Environmental Crisis brought together mentors and cultural practitioners who are addressing various local manifestations of the climate crisis in a yearlong online programme and two in-person Lab weeks.

“I read once that photographers don't just capture moments but rather meaning.”

Ahmed Qabel

Ahmed Qabel is an Egyptian photographer, currently studying at the Faculty of Commerce, Al-Azhar University in Cairo. His interest in photography began in 2018, and since then it has grown into a passion that occupies all his thoughts. Ahmed's work has been published in several digital blogs, and he has participated in several group exhibitions. His work focuses on marginalized communities, social and cultural issues.

25 Years

We have celebrated our 25-year anniversary with the online festival 25 Years, 25 Hours featuring many of our exceptional partners and their unique stories about the transformative power of arts and culture, reaching +2.5K people online.

€1 million for Covid Relief

In response to the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the cultural sector worldwide, we distributed 1 million euro in relief grants to over 160 partners from the past three years. 

“I think the PCF has embodied ‘care’ as one of its principal core values ever since I have known the team and your care and sensitivity only shone through evermore brighter during these trying times” - Prince Claus Fund grantee Arko Datto, India.

€300.000 for heritage rescue in Beirut after the blast in 2020.

Forces of Art

We launched Forces of Art: Perspectives from a Changing World, in collaboration with Hivos and the European Cultural Foundation. This interdisciplinary volume presented research by 15 teams of researchers on the transformative power of art in communities in the global south.

In the middle of the pandemic, our 2020 Awards Ceremony took place online reaching over 6.000 people.

“Sometimes you ask yourself is it really worth it, but you have to constantly remind yourself of the communities and future generations you are building.”

Ibrahim Mahama

Ibrahim Mahama is a visual artist based in Ghana. Mahama is known for his large-scale installations made from jute sacks previously used to transport cocoa beans and charcoal, which are emblematic of Ghana’s commodity dependency. His work explores themes of commodity, migration, globalization, and economic exchange. Mahama’s ambitious installations often transform urban spaces and are a commentary on labor and decay.His notable projects include "Out of Bounds" at the 2015 Venice Biennale and "A Straight Line Through the Carcass of History" which has been shown in various locations worldwide, including Athens, Kassel, and New York. These works critically examine the impact of the material history of post-colonial Ghana within the context of global commerce.

Prince Claus Awards went to all exceptional women or women-run organisations for their excellent, ground-breaking work in the cultural field and its positive societal impact.

"Women in Crystal Cubes", in a first solo exhibition the work by Principal Prince Claus Laureate Kamala Ibrahim Ishag from Sudan was shown in the Prince Claus Fund Gallery.

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag is a painter based in Sudan. A figure in the Khartoum School of Art, Ishag has influenced African art with her blend of spiritual symbolism and visual storytelling. Her practice, characterized by the exploration of women's experiences and mystical themes, interweaves traditional Sudanese aesthetics with contemporary issues.Her major works, such as the "Women in Crystal Cubes" and "Planes of Existence," have received international acclaim and have been exhibited in major venues such as the Sharjah Art Foundation and the Tate Modern. Ishag's contributions go beyond visual impact; her art challenges societal norms and inspires cultural introspection.

Our public programme team travelled to Senegal with Dutch hip hop artists and prominent members in the scene to perform at the Festa2H festival by NextGen partner Africulturban, give workshops and participate in panel discussions.

Thana Faroq, Yemen, took part in the Arab Documentary Development Programme. In "The Passport Project" she reflects on notions of freedom and the struggle to leave a country where violence, war, and aggression are prevalent.  

Thana Faroq

Thana Faroq is a Yemeni documentary photographer, writer, and educator. Her artistry employs photography, texts, and moving images to delve into her life's transformations and the nuanced sense of belonging she experiences in both Yemen and her new home in the Netherlands. Faroq's work, recognized for its depth in exploring migration, post-memory, and intergenerational trauma, has earned her various awards, including the 2018 Open Society Foundation Fellowship Grant and the 2019 Arab Documentary Fund. Her storytelling captures the strength of migrants and stateless individuals, many of whom have journeyed with her during her own period of transition.Selected projects like "I Don't Recognize Me in the Shadows" and "How Shall We Greet the Sun" reflect her focus on capturing the essence of her subjects' experiences, often returning to them to continue documenting their evolving stories. Her work has been showcased in numerous exhibitions across the Middle East, Europe, and the United States, and featured in leading publications such as The New York Times Lens, National Public Radio (NPR), and BBC.

First Environmental Open Call

We began our support for CAREC - cultural responses to environmental change with a call for proposals, in collaboration with the Goethe Instituut.

“I was inspired by the people — their resilience to fight and live fully.” – Prince Claus Fund Awardee Mohamed Mahdy, Egypt, author of the project Moon Dust.

Next Generation

In 2018 we launched our Next Generation programme. We created partnerships with 12 inspiring youth-led organisations, supported projects in Africa and the MENA region and began the Forces of Art research initiative.  

A Sheet of Paper Can Become a Knife

Our gallery hosted the exhibition featuring the work of 10 Prince Claus Awardees, whose work reveals a collective narrative of social injustice. 

"Meeting people and their organizations from other parts of the world, getting to know their culture, struggles, achievements and successes is the most valuable thing that this network offers." – Dokufest reflecting on Network Partnership meeting in Kosovo.


Along with our Network Partners, we joined the call for the release of our longtime friend and partner Shahidul Alam, who was abducted from his home after speaking out during student protests in Bangladesh.

200 people joined for our 10th annual Cultural Speed Date.

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