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Culturescapes is a multidisciplinary Swiss arts festival devoted to inter-cultural exchange. The festival, which takes place in autumn, showcases the cultural landscape of a different region, nation or city every year. Although based in Basel the festival extends to many other places in Switzerland, such as Aarau, Bern, Chur, Zurich, Geneva or Bellinzona. Founded in the year 2002, the festival mainly focussed on Eastern European countries at the beginning. However, with festival editions devoted to countries like Turkey, Azerbaijan, China or Israel the festival gradually expanded its scope. To mark its tenth anniversary in 2012 Culturescapes focussed on Moscow, for the first time placing the topography of a city at the centre of the festival.[1] The 2013 Balkans festival edition highlighted not only a country but an entire cultural region.[2] Culturescapes is a network festival, cooperating with existing arts venues in Switzerland, such as the Theater Basel or the Museum Tinguely. The festival is usually supported by Swiss federal agencies, e.g. Pro Helvetia, county authorities as well as state departments of the guest country. The festival is interdisciplinary. Next to performing arts like theatre and dance the festival also presents fine arts, graphic arts, craft, literature, film and new Media. In the programming section entitled „Focus" the history, current affairs and popular culture of the focus region are discussed and analysed. This largely happens in cooperation with Swiss education institutions such as the University of Basel or the University of Zurich. Some of the countries and topics chosen have led to protests and debate. Such topics include the Armenian Genocide or the Conflicts in the Middle East. In a public letter, Culturescapes was requested by BDS Switzerland, a group advocating the boycott of Israel, not to host the Culturescapes Israel 2011 festival.[3] The BDS Switzerland also protested at some of the events of the festival.[4]


The original idea behind Culturescapes was to draw attention to the transformative processes taking place in the less well-known countries of the former Eastern Bloc, as manifested in the art produced there. Gradually, however, the focus shifted to cultural landscapes with a long tradition of artistic diversity, whose current form bears the stamp of a unique combination of historical, political, social and economic factors.[5] Founder and curator of all the festival editions to date is Dutch arts manager Jurriaan Cooiman. Since 2009 Culturescapes functions as a charitable foundation. Before this date, the festival had been run by the group Performing Arts Services Basel (PASS).[6]


Festival edition Guest region Features
2003 [7]  Georgia i. a. Gija Kantscheli as Composer in Residence
2004 [8]  Ukraine i. a. Topics: Chernobyl; Literature from Chernivtsi, Music from Valentin Silvestrov
2005 [9]  Armenia i. a. First Public conference about the Armenian Genocide,[10] Tigran Mansurian as composer in Residence[11]
2006 [12]  Estonia i. a. Estland in Wandel, von Kraahl Theater, Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür, first composition contest[13]
2007 [14]  Romania i. a. Monday theatre with Peca Stefan,[15] Gianna Carbunariu; Stefan Niculescu, Aurel Stroe, Horațiu Rădulescu, Ana Blandiana
2008 [16]  Turkey i. a. Fazil Say; Mercan Dede,
2009 [17]  Azerbaijan i. a. Frangiz Ali-Sade, Aziza Mustafa Zadeh, Pantomime Theatre Baku, first artists in residence program for young artists
2010 [18]  China i. a. Co-production with Wang Jianwei; Jin Xing, Composition request to Wang Xilin, opera from Hangzhou[19]
2011 [20]  Israel i. a. Batsheva Dance Company; Composition by Chaya Czernowin; Co-Productions Ofira Henig, Yasmeen Godder, Daniel Landau
2012 [21] Moscow i. a. Dimtri Krymov, Yuri Bashmet, Co-operation with Musma (music masters on air),[22] Composition by Alexander Raskatov, Alexey Sysoev und Pavel Karmanov, Vladimir Sorokin
2013 [23] Balkans i. a. Miljenko Jergović, Dubioza Kolektiv, Oliver Frljic,[24] EnKnapGroup, Rambo Amadeus, Vlatko Stefanovski, Damir Imamović
2014 [25] Tokyo Part of 150 years anniversary of diplomatic relationships between Switzerland and Japan[26]


  • Culturescapes Azerbaijan: Kultur, Geschichte und Politik zwischen Kaukausus und Kaspischem Meer. Christoph Merian Verlag, Basel 2009, ISBN 978-3-85616-488-1.
  • Culturescapes China: Chinas Kulturszene ab 2000. Christoph Merian Verlag, Basel 2010, ISBN 978-3-85616-514-7.
  • Culturescapes Israel: Kultur im Spannungsfeld des Nahen Ostens. Christoph Merian Verlag, Basel 2011, ISBN 978-3-85616-528-4.
  • Culturescapes Moscow: Schauplatz der Inszenierungen. Christoph Merian Verlag, Basel 2012, ISBN 978-3-85616-572-7.
  • Culturescapes Balkans: Kosovo 2.0 - Balkart. Christoph Merian Verlag, Basel 2013, ISBN 978-3-85616-626-7.


  1. ^ Fluri, Christian „Culturescapes feiert mit Moskau Jubiläum" Basellandschaftliche Zeitung (Basel) 22 November 2012
  2. ^ Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC CULTURESCAPES Balkan, Website SDC. Accessed 12 March 2014., Fluri, Christian „Culturescapes: Erstmals widmet sich Festival einer umstrittenen Region" Basellandschaftliche Zeitung 20 September 2013
  3. ^ BDS public letter, Accessed 12 March 2014
  4. ^ BDS Switzerland „Proteste beim Auftritt der Batsheva Dance Company im Beyeler Museum" 23 November 2013, Accessed 12 March 2014.
  5. ^ The history of Culturescapes, Website Culturescapes. Accessed 11th Marth 2014., EFA European Festival Association „Culturescapes Member Profile", Accessed 15 April 2014.
  6. ^ Federal Office of Justice, Switzerland Commercial Registry
  7. ^ Flyer Culturescapes Georgia
  8. ^ Program overview Culturescapes Ukraine
  9. ^ Program overview Culturescapes Armenia
  10. ^ Wanted for the future - historical clarification! Armenians, Turks, and Europe in the shadow of World War I, Program Symposium. Accessed 12th Marth 2014
  11. ^ De Marchi, Rolf „Meine Musik kommt von oben" Basellandschaftliche Zeitung (Basel) 9 November 2005 Article online
  12. ^ Program overview Culturescapes Estonia
  13. ^ Wirz, Ursina „Culturescapes Estland" Magazin (Basel) 8 November 2006
  14. ^ Programm overview Culturescapes Romania
  15. ^ De Baas, Michael „Rumänien Land im Umbruch" Badische Zeitung (Basel) 15 November 2007 Article online
  16. ^ Program Culturescapes Turkey
  17. ^ Program Culturescapes Azerbaijan
  18. ^ Programm Culturescapes China, Press review Culturescapes China
  19. ^ „Remarks by Chinese Ambassador WU Ken At the Closing Ceremony of Culturescapes China 2010", Website Chinese Embassy in Switzerland. Accessed 12 March 2014.
  20. ^ Program Culturescapes Israel, Press review Culturescapes Israel
  21. ^ Programm Culturescapes Moscow
  22. ^ Website Musma, Accessed 12 March 2014.
  23. ^ Program Culturescapes Balkans
  24. ^ „Wahrheit im Kaleidoskop gebrochen" Badische Zeitung 19 November 2013
  25. ^ Website Culturescapes Tokio 2014
  26. ^ Staines, Judith „Switzerland’s Culturescapes Festival selects Tokyo as focus for 2014„, 8 November 2013, „Events and Projects", Website 150 Years Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Switzerland and Japan. Accessed 12 March 2014