France and South Africa celebrate culture, creativity and innovation

France – South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013

Johannesburg, 10 May 2012 – A multifaceted bilateral collaboration between France and South Africa, concluded last year by the heads of states of France and South Africa, moves into high gear this winter as the first French Season in South Africa kicks off.
The essence of this collaboration and some detail of the rich programme of events that South Africans can expect were outlined at a media briefing held in Newtown, Johannesburg this morning.
The French Season in South Africa will open formally in July (although there will be some activities in June) and continue into November. It will be followed by a South African Season in France between May and December 2013.
“We are proud to be the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to participate in such a wide-ranging collaboration with France. The reciprocal national Seasons, which will be jointly organised by our countries, concentrate on culture and the arts but they also include sport, trade and novel approaches in the fields of education, the sciences and business,” said South African Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile.
“The highest authorities in our two countries requested that this edition of the Seasons be organised to reinforce the strong, deep bonds that unite us in the field of culture, to discover new facets of this relationship, and to forge long-term ties. These Seasons also represent an opportunity to develop our relations in many areas beyond the arts, and to shape a future in which solidarity and a better understanding of one another guide the relationship between our two peoples,” said Xavier Darcos President of the Institut français.
Laurent Clavel, French Commissioner-General for the Seasons, said: “The French Season will offer South Africans a glimpse of the cultural scene in modern day France, which is contemporary and dynamic, and embraces the diversity of our society. In the areas of science, education and trade we will focus on areas of mutual interest and once again bring some of our most innovative work to the fore.”
Mr Clavel said that similar Seasons with other countries, including India, Brazil, China, Russia, Japan and many others, had increased understanding between France and these nations.
Bongani Tembe, South African Commissioner-General for the Seasons, said that more than 70 projects, exhibitions, concerts, performances, colloquiums and interactive sessions were being planned across South Africa during the six-month French Season.
“There is something for almost everyone. In the field of arts and culture alone, the Season will cater for lovers of dance, theatre, film, the visual arts, literature and a wide variety of music genres. It will appeal to young and old and to traditionalists as well as the cultural vanguard.
“France and South Africa sit in different hemispheres, yet they have much in common: cultural diversity, innovative economies, excellent universities, strong sporting traditions, scientific and technological expertise. The French Season in South Africa 2012 will explore these common interests in a variety of different ways, and in doing so, and will strengthen ties between our two countries.
“In many cases French and South African artists will get together to write, compose or perform something completely new, something special born of their interaction. What you, the audience, will see is a creation that is both French and South African.”
In other instances, the French Season will enable South Africans to experience French exhibitions and performances that might never have made their way to South Africa otherwise. The first meeting of the France-South Africa Bilateral Committee on Innovation will also form part of the French Season.
(See accompanying document, 4_Selected Highlights, for details on selected elements of the programme or visit
Issued on behalf of:
France – South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013
Institut français and the National Arts Council of South Africa
For more information contact:
Alex van Essche at Meropa Communications
Tel: 011 506 7300 Cell: 082 321 1167