The music collaboration with South Africa started in 2000 under the name of Mmino, with the over-all goal to strengthen South African musical cultures. In the South African funding landscape, Mmino was the only agency solely funding music projects and it soon established a profile as a responsive and engaged funder of music-orientated projects. Up to the last call for applications in 2010, Mmino received a total of nearly three thousand applications of which 322 projects situated throughout South Africa, the SADC Region and Norway were granted funding.
The program was financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Arts and Culture in South Africa, with the National Arts Council of South Africa responsible for conducting the cooperation with Concerts Norway. This program was completed in 2010.
A new program, called “Concerts South Africa” was launched in 2013 and is a joint South African/Norwegian live music development project housed within the SAMRO Foundation. Concerts SA receive financial, administrative and technical support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SAMRO, the SAMRO Foundation and Kulturtanken.
The project aims to build a vibrant and viable live music circuit in Southern Africa by working with musicians, promoters, venue owners and audiences, and providing support to the sector through research and skills development for music professionals. It also aims to develop an interest in and appreciation of live music by showcasing music performances and conducting workshops at schools in urban and rural areas in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. In addition a Mobility Fund has been established to support musicians to tour venues at a national and Southern African regional level.
Being a music cooperation project, the exchange element is an important part - both as a planned element within the circuit activities, but also as part of the unplanned strategic activities. The musical activities are open to all music genres, with a special emphasis on jazz, world and indigenous music. Activities for children and youth are given special attention.
The ‘CSA School Circuit’ is worth mentioning. During the year 2015, the project reached over 9000 pupils in the Gauteng province alone, in more than 50 participating schools. Approximately 17 000 pupils experienced school concerts in their own school yard. These concerts make an energetic craze in the audience. Many places, especially in the rural areas, there are pupils who experience for the first time a band playing live music.
Concerts SA received the BASA Awards 2016 (Business and Arts South Africa) for the best project in the category Increasing Access to the Arts.