Established in 1990, the Thami Mnyele Foundation runs since 1992 a unique three month artists-in- residence program in Amsterdam. The main objective of the Foundation is to advance cultural exchange between artists from Africa and the diaspora, the Netherlands and Amsterdam in particular. To this aim, the Foundation offers African artists of all disciplines of contemporary visual art (painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, video, film, audio and multi media) an three-month studio residency for free, in the Thami Mnyele Foundation studio, located in an old school building in the centre of Amsterdam. The Thami Mnyele Foundation artists-in-residence-program is therefore an ideal opportunity for concentration on work, reflection, research and discussion.
The Foundation is named in commemoration of the South African artist and freedom fighter Thami Mnyele who died as a result of his actions as member of the MEDU group. His visit to Amsterdam inspired Dutch artists, politicians and people interested in culture exchange, to set up an artists-in-residence program. The first years the focus was only on artists from South Africa, soon we focused on artists from all African countries and her diaspora. Thami Mnyele Foundation artists-in-residence program participants are generally artists who can have completed art school training and can have a few years of independent professional experience, but that is not always a perquisite. In the past, participants have come from: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Benin, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Benin, Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, Mozambique, Zambia, Mauritius, Uganda, Ethiopie, Ghana, Sudan, Mauritius, Algeria, Libya, st Maarten, London, New York. The artist in residence receives an Award for living expenses and a budget for material and the travelling expenses to and from the Netherlands, free use of housing and studio, bicycle, museum card, and internet. In order to promote this cultural exchange, the Thami Mnyele Foundation mediates in meetings with artists and people associated with the Dutch art world. The selection of participants is done on a regular basis by an independent selection committee of experts, which is appointed by the Board of the Foundation