South Africa joined UNESCO in 1994 and has since registered 8 cultural or natural World Heritage sites with 13 more on the tentative list. From 2009 to 2013, South Africa was a member of the World Heritage Committee. Cultural life mainly focuses on the urban centres of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. However, smaller cities are trying to be culturally active by setting up festivals.
Austria has well established cultural ties with South Africa. In the field of music many students from South Africa receive their training in Austria. Additionally, the Austrian Embassy supports training projects for children and students from disadvantaged areas such as "Music Is A Great Investment" (MIAGI) in Soweto, which is run by the South African born Austrian citizen Robert Brooks, or lessons for young cello-students from the Soshanguve area.
Austria also attempts to strengthen the use of the German language by cooperating with the German departments of the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Pretoria, the Stellenbosch University, or the University of Western Cape. In 2017, the Austrian Embassy supported the latter with book donations for the sixth time in order to familiarise the students with Austrian culture and Austrian writers.
In the scientific field more than 10 cooperation agreements have been signed between Austrian and South African universities.
The Austrian Embassy in Pretoria disposes of a budget for the promotion of contemporary Austrian artists and scientists, which is usually done in collaboration with festivals or artistic and scientific institutions in the Southern African region. The projects that are co-financed by the Embassy range from music to visual arts, literature, science, architecture, etc. Some Austrian artists, such as Marcus Neustetter or the film producer Florian Schattauer, live in Johannesburg.
EUNIC Cluster South Africa
The Austrian Embassy in Pretoria has been a member of the EU National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC) Cluster in South Africa since its foundation in 2008. Other cluster members include the Institut Francais d'Afrique du Sud, the Alliance Francaise, the British Council, the Goethe Institute, the Italian Institute of Culture, the Portuguese Camões Institute, the Hungarian Embassy, and the Spanish Embassy.
The Cluster meets regularly to plan and implement joint projects as well as to exchange information on cultural activities. The worldwide EUNIC network was founded in 2006 and runs a small secretariat in Brussels.