A new Convention for a Dialogue on National Culture plans for closer cooperation between the various levels of the state.
The Law on the Promotion of Culture (enacted 2012) and Cultural Message have determined cultural policy for 2012-2015.
2.1 Main features of the current cultural policy model
The two main elements of the Swiss (cultural) policy model are: federalism and subsidiarity.
For Swiss cultural policy, federalism means that measures are decided upon and implemented on a local and regional level, which are considered to be closer to the artists' voices and their needs. Subsidiarity presupposes that the various actors take responsible action. The respective higher levels, for instance, the cities, cantons, or the federal government, lend subsidiary support, which is primarily financial. This means that public resources for culture are provided first by the cities, and then subsidiarily by the cantons and the federal government. Furthermore, private sponsorship is almost conditional or a requirement in order to receive public grants. The private sector acts as a kind of guarantor in providing the matching funds required to receive public money. Switzerland's cultural tapestry is a patchwork of twenty-six cantonal approaches rather than a single, national design.
Because of the flexibility of the Swiss model, there are some inherent difficulties such as the duplication or overlap of efforts. Concentrating cultural policy measures on a common goal is rather difficult and the elaboration of mid and long-term perspectives is quite a complex task (see chapter 3.3). Particularly on the national level, discussions can take years and at times result in expensive compromises.
For this reason, the new Federal Law on Cultural Promotion places great emphasis on precisely delimiting federal jurisdiction as against that of the cantons, municipalities, and cities, which are primarily responsible for the promotion of culture. Under the new Law, the financial steering of the federal government's promotion of culture is effected by means of a four-year payment framework (Cultural Message), and reads as a declaration of the cultural policy guidelines of the federal government.
On 25 October 2011, the federal government, cantons, cities, and municipalities signed a Convention for a Dialogue on National Culture. The Convention marks a first step toward the implementation of the Cultural Message, and is aimed at establishing closer cooperation between the various levels of the state in the future. It remains to be seen whether the enactment of the new Law on Cultural Promotion (which came into effect on 1 January 2012) and the associated strategic four-year periods will reduce the friction occuring to date.