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The 2003 Prince Claus Awards - Report from the jury

The Awards

The Prince Claus Awards are celebrated each year in December in the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. All the awards are presented to an international audience of 400 people. The Principal Award of EUR 100,000 is announced and offered to the laureate present; the recipients of the awards of EUR 25,000 are presented with their prizes on the same day by the Netherlands Ambassadors in their respective countries.


In preparation for the selection of the laureates, every year the Prince Claus Fund approaches a changing group of experts in fields relevant to the Fund's mission of culture and development. People working in the broad field of culture and development with whom the Fund has been working are asked to put forward possible candidates, and to comment or endorse candidates proposed by others.

For the 2003 Awards, nominations were submitted to the Fund by April and the 2003 Prince Claus Awards Committee met on 17-18 June to draw up a short list from the proposals that had been received and researched by the Fund's staff. This research included obtaining second opinions from advisers in the Fund's network. The Committee considered 70 nominations and selected a shortlist of 23. Further research was carried out on those selected and the Committee met again on 7-8 August to formulate its final list of 11 recommendations for the 2003 Prince Claus Awards which it now presents to the Fund's Board.

The Committee

In 2003 the composition of the Prince Claus Awards Committee was unchanged:
• Adriaan van der Staay (chairman) - Emeritus Professor of Cultural Politics and Cultural Critique at the Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands
• Aracy Amaral - art historian, art critic and curator, São Paolo, Brazil
Sadik Al-Azm - Professor of Philosophy, Damascus, Syria
Goenawan Mohamad - journalist and poet, Jakarta, Indonesia
Pedro Pimenta - filmmaker, Maputo, Mozambique, and Harare, Zimbabwe
Claudia Roden - food historian and writer, London, UK (Prince Claus laureate 1999)
Bruno Stagno - architect and Director of the Institute for Tropical Architecture, San José, Costa Rica (Prince Claus laureate 1997)

Criteria and considerations

The Prince Claus Awards are offered to artists and intellectuals for their excellent achievements in the field of culture and development. They are presented to individuals, groups and organisations all over the world, but primarily in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The quality of a laureate's work is a sine qua non for a Prince Claus Award. 'Quality' is assessed within the candidate's professional and personal context. Another decisive factor is the positive effects of the laureate's work on a wider cultural and social field. The building of bridges and the creation of commonalities between different cultures or cultural currents are much valued.
The Prince Claus Awards recognise artistic and intellectual qualities that are alive today. They aim to support experimentation, to appreciate audacity and tenacity, to legitimise, to increase impact and to provide others with inspiration.


The Prince Claus Fund maintains a broad view of culture which accommodates all kinds of artistic and intellectual disciplines, the transmission of culture, education and media. A special interest in the field of applied arts has been formulated as well as a strong concern for the (inter)cultural dimensions of fields which do not obviously belong to the domain of 'culture', such as technology, science or sports. Or in vocabularies and vernaculars - football, hip-hop or batik - which travel all over the world developing into universal languages that bridge different cultures. 'Interculturality' occupies a prominent position on the Fund's agenda.

It should be emphasised that the Fund likes to be surprised. In addition to having specific areas of focus, it also seeks to recognise a broad range of different cultural initiatives all over the world and explicitly welcomes proposals from cultural fields and areas not mentioned below.

The Fund also remains interested in themes that have been prominent in previous years. One such theme is 'Creating Spaces of Freedom', which addresses how artists and thinkers find ways to express dissenting views: the Prince Claus Fund aims to provide protection to culture in places where it is threatened.

The Fund is continuing its interest in exploring 'zones of silence' . Contact with these areas is limited because the Fund has little access to the platforms of exchange through which they communicate.

The Survival and Re-orientation of Crafts

In 2003 the Awards Committee has taken the survival and re-orientation of crafts as its main focus and has looked for answers to such questions as: How do crafts survive and through whom? What new opportunities are created for crafts and craftspeople? In what new environments do crafts and craftspeople prosper? What is the wider impact of crafts for development? What role do crafts play in identity and community?

Crafts have a long and varied history of development, which is endangered by political, social and economic forces as well as by quicker and cheaper production methods that produce uniformity. Crafts are an integral part of the human story and human culture, and they can be powerful catalysts for development.

Crafts and skills

Crafting can be understood as a material process, as a skill by which a material product is created, but also as a non-material skill or practice by which a service is offered. Crafts can thus be understood as embodying the traditional knowledge, skills and values that underpin all culture, and are realised in many forms of popular culture.
The Fund considers 'crafts' in a broad sense, connecting the opportunities of crafts in many different fields.


The re-orientation of crafts is understood as a strategy towards survival. The Fund is interested in exploring those developments and initiatives that propose innovations.
Innovations can be found in the production technology; in the use or application of the product; in the (international) marketing of the product, technique or service. In the case of skills one can think of the redefinition in the status of the master craftsman and the insertion of his knowledge into modern society.
The Fund is interested in both the innovative and the conservative aspects of crafts: it focuses both on the heritage aspects and on renewal, and particularly on those innovations that include the perpetuation, enhancement and re-invigoration of traditional skills.

The Principal Award

Wang Shixiang (1914, PR China)

This year the principal award goes to Wang Shixiang in recognition of his meticulous research into popular culture and crafts of PR China. By documenting and disseminating this knowledge of traditions and skills, he has assisted in overcoming the disruption of the Cultural Revolution, thus saving and transferring a cultural legacy for the modern and future generations.
Particularly renowned for his study of the design, technology and social history of Chinese furniture, he created a unique collection which inspires museums, craftspeople and scholars around the world. The collection was confiscated by the then communist regime but later returned and is now a national heritage treasure.
Wang's wide-ranging expertise encompasses many fields from the esoteric to the everyday, including lacquerware, carved gourds, manuscripts in classical Chinese language, bamboo, ivory, wood and horn carving, the ancient Chinese lute, gourmet food, falconry, breeding crickets, pigeon rearing and pigeon whistling. His knowledge is shared through renowned publications which are in many cases the only text on the subject.
A highly respected classical scholar with a passionate interest in the life of the community and its cultural heritage, as well as a commentator on Chinese culture abroad, Wang forms a bridge between the old and the new China. Through his dedicated work he has saved and promoted arts and crafts that were almost lost, even to the Chinese people themselves.

Ten Prince Claus Awards

Mick Pearce (Zimbabwe)

An original and innovative architect, Mick Pearce is particularly renowned for his work on the bio-ecological aspects of the built environment. Through his research into local materials, traditional technologies such as wind towers, and the natural systems of African termites, he has developed passive and energy-saving systems of construction and design, particularly with regard to the ventilation and air-conditioning of buildings.
Among his achievements are low-cost schools appropriate to the hot climate and local technologies of Zambia; urban buildings in Zimbabwe and South Africa incorporating natural ventilation through underground rock stores and surface vegetation to control internal climate and purify air; habitation on African coastlines employing wind and water to moderate extremes of heat and provide fresh water at the same time. Eastgate Shopping Centre in Harare, an outstanding example of innovative design, uses 10% of the energy that would be consumed by a conventional building of the same size. His buildings have changed the appearance of Harare and influenced global norms of climate-related design.
In difficult circumstances, Mick Pearce has been instrumental in establishing an architectural school in Zimbabwe and he communicates his knowledge through numerous workshops and conferences, urging students and peers to learn from the Third World. Committed to humanist ideals, Mick Pearce is an engaged defender of human rights and has given active support to civil society and pro-democracy movements in Zimbabwe.
Mick Pearce has made important cultural and technological innovations that will become more necessary in the context of global warming, reduced availability of fossil fuels and urbanisation. He is at the forefront of ecologically sustainable design.

District Six Museum (South Africa)

Using the specific context of its past and working with the local people, District Six Museum in Cape Town, has created an unusually effective, interactive, experience of memory.
The Museum, through personal encounters, draws visitors into the history of the formation, growth and then enforced displacement of the community. In the context of apartheid, District Six was an impoverished neighbourhood but it was home to a unique community of marginalised people from many diverse cultural groups, including a large number of Malay descendants and people of mixed-race parentage, living harmoniously together. Their position in the heart of the city, on the lower slopes of Table Mountain was a desirable location and the apartheid government through forced removal, uprooted the community. Public outrage prevented the government from demolishing the hundred-year old buildings and, since 1994, the original people have been moving back. Through research and active engagement of the community, the District Six Museum has gathered artefacts, letters, photos, documents and especially personal stories in a vivid recreation of the community's history. Many well-known artists, poets and musicians, such as Dollar Brand, lived in District Six. Visitors have personal encounters with old inhabitants who act as guides.
The Museum's programmes do not only deal with the past but engage local people in active regeneration and development, in environmental and housing planning, in music, literature and art events and in public action. Looking forward to how we can engage with each other to think about the future, the Museum's innovative practice reactivates the community through memory and involves them in their own development. It nurtures respect for dignity, identity, continuity and co-existence of races.
The award will recognise and strengthen this new museum concept. It is an example which other cultural institutions internationally could use as a model.

Mathare Youth Sports Association (Kenya)

Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) uses the universal language of football - combining the enthusiam, enjoyment, ethos and discipline of sporting skills - to empower youth from one of Africa's largest and poorest slums.
Started 15 years ago, the Association has over 14,000 boys and girls as members, participating in hundreds of teams that now play successfully in local and international leagues. MYSA is open to all, avoids ethnic divisions and also brings in children from nearby refugee camps. It provides training in physical education and sporting skills, nurturing talent and offering opportunities for both individual and team achievement and raising self-esteem. Run by youths themselves, team players become role models for the entire community and beyond. Recently Kenya's national team re-entered the Africa Cup league through a goal scored by a MYSA youth.
But MYSA is not only a football club. Based on the philosophy of fair play, MYSA encourages accountability for one's actions, in partnerships, teams and in the community. Leadership development and community co-operation are the main principles. Members are involved in programmes to clean-up the environment, in health education, disseminating information and counselling on HIV/Aids, promoting schoolwork, changing gender attitudes, reducing drug abuse and prostitution, monitoring water quality, assisting children that are arrested and working in refugee camps.
Arts and cultural activities are part of the programmes. A music school has been started and many children have been trained in photography, developing a library of images which are exhibited locally and internationally.
MYSA is an outstanding example of local initiative and development; a model for others.

Hasan Saltik (Turkey)

Hasan Saltik has played a central role in the rescue, rediscovery and documentation of the cultural diversity of Turkish music. In the remote areas of Turkey and the neighbouring regions, despite political repression of minority cultures, confiscation of equipment and even arrest, Hasan Saltik has spent years in dedicated research, travelling, gathering information, making recordings and documenting different minority musical traditions.
Working with the best exponents of every form, he has recorded authentic village ceremonial music, Gypsy melodies from Thrace, polyphonic Laz music from northeast Turkey, Zaza songs from Dersim, the music of Slavonic Muslims originating from Bulgaria, Alevi Bektashi religious songs and the music of traditional rituals from all parts of the region.
Among his works are reissues of late Ottoman music and the legendary voices of Armenian and Greek minority singers, as well as reissues of old great recordings of rebetika and klezmer music. He has been called an archaeologist of music but he also works with modern masters and student groups who are reinventing Turkish music in contemporary idioms.
Saltik founded a small company to produce recordings of the highest quality which have been the catalyst for the revival of musical traditions and led to their dissemination worldwide. He has conserved and promoted the musical heritage of the area though establishing a label which produces unparalleled recordings.

Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture (Cambodia)

Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture provides a forum for preservation and promotion of traditional and contemporary Cambodian arts and culture. Their storefront gallery and cultural centre in Phnom Penh stimulates exchange of ideas, promotes creative expression and encourages research through exhibitions, lectures, dance performances, film evenings, art classes and publications.
Among the traditional arts that suffered under 20 years of communist rule and which have been reinstated by Reyum are classical Cambodian dance, music, mask making and Kbach, a unique ornamental language.
The Institute offers space for mounting changing exhibitions, a rare thing in Cambodia. It provides opportunities for contemporary artists to show new work and also mounts exhibitions on subjects such as silver craftsmanship, lacquerware techniques, community spirit houses and traditional Khmer painting. Reyum has built up an extensive archive of information often recorded from the last surviving craftspeople and artists, the bearers of a dying oral tradition.
Another focus has been on the art of the Khmer Rouge period, a subject absent from Cambodian discussion. It has also documented the development of music, cinema, architecture, dance and the visual arts in the 1950s and 60s which were unrecorded as the country descended into war. Their publications are of the highest quality and all printed and produced in Cambodia.
Reyum offers free art classes for children and publishes children's books in the Khmer language. It also provides university students with opportunities for study, archival research and preparation of texts. Among topics currently being worked on are the documenting and photographing of the murals and frescos of all Cambodian temples, the use of traditional tools and changes in technologies, and research into fashions for women during the 20th century.
Reyum is a uniquely important institution for the protection of Cambodian arts and culture as well as for the development of creativity and originality.

Arab Human Development Report 2002 and Nader Fergany (Egypt)

This report is outstanding in that it gathers together data and statistics from all the Arab countries providing, for the first time, a comparative and critical analysis of development issues in those countries. Aspects of Arab culture that have been separated ideologically are brought together and the recommendations that are proposed challenge existing policies.
Written entirely by Arab academics and professionals, coordinated by Nader Fergany (from Egypt) supported by an expert group of advisors chaired by Rima Khalaf Hunaidi, and produced with UNDP support, the Report promotes the notion of self-examination. It offers comprehensive information and a broad perspective on issues such as education, women's status, health and economics. It directly confronts taboos and states that open debate and scientific research and education are the way to move forward.
The Arab Human Development Report sets the agenda for development in the Arab world for the next 50 years. The award will be an incentive in the Arab world for more open research and discussion, will counteract the culture of avoidance of debate, and will bring culture to the centre of development in the Arab world. The Report is in line with the Fund's aim to create spaces of freedom.

G.N. Devy (India)

G.N. Devy is a cultural activist with a particular focus on the Bhil and Rathwa tribal peoples of his native Gujerat State who have been oppressed and exploited. A distinguished academic, linguist, writer and literary critic, he has dedicated enormous energy to research into their history and ethos. He has sought to raise awareness of their economic and social problems, their dying cultures and the threat to their languages.
Devy is secretary general of the Denotified and Nomadic Tribes - Rights Action Group; Head of the Bhasha Centre which promotes and supports research and publications in tribal languages; founder of the Tribal Academy in Tejgadh and director of a project on literature in tribal languages and oral traditions. He has carried out pioneering work documenting tribal languages and specially recording cultural and social histories from nomadic folk storytellers; translating, interpreting and recording tribal epics which provide uniquely fresh insights into alternate understandings of shared Indian cultural heritage such as the classic Bahabharata.
As well as his research, he has become totally involved in the communities and was instrumental in the building of a community centre where workshops and community programmes are held.
G.N. Devy provides a safe haven for these denigrated cultures and has been a major force in regenerating their tradtional knowledge and skills.

Carlinhos Brown (Brazil)

Carlinhos Brown is an extraordinarily talented musician: percussionist, composer, instrumentalist and singer. A black Brazilian, he has brought his musical tradition to new prominence, strengthening its roots through cross-cultural activities with African musicians and musical traditions. Renowned for popularising a vibrant mix of many influences, touching on all kinds of traditions - salsa, rap, hip-hop, Candomble and even classical western - Carlinhos Brown's music has been described as uncategorisable. He is one of the most inventive of Brazil's new musicians, giving performances worldwide.
Despite his success, he continues to live and produce his music in the predominantly black marginalised neighbourhood of Candeal, Salvador, where he is a role model and community activist. Besides his state-of-the-art recording studio, he has set up a music school in the slum which reaches out to the local people of all ages and offers them opportunities. Dance, singing and percussion training, drawing on all the local traditions which include for example Brazilian folklore, Portuguese/Christian mythology and African spiritualities, and performances stimulate and regenerate interest and pride in cultural heritage and its relevance in contemporary life. By combining music with social development activities he has helped the entire community to tackle the most fundamental local problems of water, sanitation, electricity, street violence and drug-trafficking.
Carlinhos Brown has also established a concert space in the barrio, for over 1000 people, where he regularly performs.

New Argentinian Cinema: Lita Stantic (Argentina)

A wave of vital new films has developed despite of, and out of, the context of the economic crisis in Argentina. Working with minimal budgets and few resources, young directors have expressed through their cinematography the contemporary outlook in Latin America. Many of these experimental films have won awards at internationally renowned film festivals such as Venice, Rotterdam, Havana, Buenos Aires.
The potential creativity of young directors such as Lucrecia Martel, Pablo Trapero and Diego Lerman was nurtured and channelled by the dynamic producer, Lita Stantic, who sacrificed her own opportunities to direct in order to produce films by other young film-makers. With particular reference to the difficult economic context, it was Lita Stantic's entrepreneurship that facilitated all of the new wave films and enabled this explosion of talent in the Argentinian cinema.
The award will provide stimulation to further creative effort by the young film-makers of Argentinia, and give well-deserved recognition and honour to the woman without whom many of these innovative films and the phenomenon of New Argentinian Cinema could not have been realised.

Biboki Weavers (Tafaen Pah Foundation) and Yovita Meta (West Timor)

Biboki Weavers, a non-profit organisation founded in 1990 by Ms Yovita Meta, stimulates cultural and economic development through the re-orientation of traditional skills in one of the poorest parts of Indonesia. Old techniques such as handspinning of cotton and use of natural dyestuffs have been revived and updated, and new knowledge, for example, of synthetic dyes, has been incorporated; community stories and values are expressed through specific local styles and techniques like ikat, supplementary weft and tapestry weaving.
Through regular training workshops and community discussion, the Tafaen Pah Foundation aims for standards of the highest quality. Their active exhibition practice has resulted in Biboki textiles being recognised as the finest in West Timor. Intra-regional exchanges involving Java, Bali and Australia, as well as participation in national and international exhibitions are regular events.
The Foundation works mainly through 25 self-managing groups of women weavers. Their success has led to associated developments by the men of the community who have joined the Foundation, bringing membership to over 1,644 people. With assistance from the Foundation, the men cultivate the raw materials - such as cotton and indigo - needed by the weavers. Training includes public speaking and project management, and assistance is given in numerous self-managed activities including financial and house-building co-operatives, craft markets and village kiosks.
Through craft, dignity is established, success is achieved and this has spread to other areas of the community's life. Yovita Meta has reawakened people's awareness of their traditional local knowledge and skills and through their cultural achievement gives them a vision of the possibility of a better life for the community. She seeks to empower people and promotes ownership of decision-making. She challenges prejudice in a male-dominated society and is a source of inspiration to women, men and children. The community now see themselves as custodians of a valuable heritage. Biboki Weavers is a model for people who find themselves out of the mainstream, inspiring them to look to their cultural heritage for elements that can be revived, reinvented and adapted to modern conditions.


Nominations are strictly confidential and are exclusively the subject of communication between the nominator and the Fund, and between the Fund and selected advisers.
Once approved by the Board, laureates will be approached and asked if they are able to accept the award. Nominators and advisers will be informed of the Board's decision concerning candidates they have been involved with. There can be no discussion or correspondence concerning the decision.
The Fund will not mention the nominator's name to the advisers, nor will it at all disclose the nominator's name as such in connection with a laureate.
The names of nominees are never publicised. The Fund will also not inform a nominee of his or her candidacy, nor will it discuss the nomination with a candidate.
The list of laureates remains confidential until its official presentation by the Fund; the Fund publishes the names of the laureates in a press release in October, with the exclusion of the name of the Principal laureate, which is only made public on the day of the Awards ceremony at the Royal Palace, Amsterdam.
The Fund requests nominators, advisers and laureates to comply with this code of confidentiality.

The 2003 Prince Claus Awards