Topics: Social Change
Culture and Urbanism
Regional focus: Global
Sub-Saharan Africa
Origin: South Africa
Fellowship: Richard von Weizs├Ącker Fellow

Mike van Graan is the outgoing Coordinator of the Sustaining Theatre and Dance (STAND) Foundation, an initiative to support the South African dance and theater sector through the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

After the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994, he was appointed as Special Adviser to the first minister responsible for arts and culture, where he played an influential role in shaping post-apartheid cultural policies. Mike van Graan has served in leadership positions in numerous arts and culture NGOs including Director of the Community Arts Project (CAP), General Secretary of the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA), and Executive Director of the African Arts Institute in Cape Town. He was the founding Secretary General of Arterial Network, a pan-African organization advocating for the cultural dimension of development, human rights, and democracy.  From 2011 to 2018, he was appointed by UNESCO as a Technical Adviser to assist governments in the global south to develop cultural policies aligned to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Mike van Graan is the 2018 recipient of the Swedish Hiroshima Prize for Peace and Culture, the same year that he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Pretoria in recognition of his work as a playwright and cultural activist. He graduated from the University of Cape Town with an Honours Degree in Drama, and was appointed as an Honorary Professor in this Drama Department from 2015 to 2019.


Last updated in August 2022