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Switzerland/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.6 Other relevant issues

At city level, as well as at communal and cantonal levels, and in private foundations, contacts are maintained with foreign partners independent of any federal support. Cities and cantons often maintain their own artists' studios abroad. The canton of Freiburg, for example, has studios in Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, and New York. Cantons and cities enter into co-operations with foreign cities, regions, or foundations, and undertake joint projects facilitated by foreign organisers. These co-operations receive no support from governmental institutions at the federal level. This kind of direct contact enables spontaneous collaborations to form, and keeps bureaucratic red tape to a minimum. Grants and stipends allow cultural producers to spend time abroad. Some few studios, on the other hand, are provided by the federal government, especially by the Federal Office of Culture (two studios each in London and New York) and by Pro Helvetia (which maintains studios in Paris, New Delhi, Cape Town, Warsaw, Cairo, Shanghai, San Francisco, New York, Rome, Milano, Venice). Intercultural networks and cooperation develop from these dynamics.

The role of the Swiss diaspora tends to be peripheral. The waves of emigration to neighbouring countries (e.g., Valser settlements) and to South America become less important when viewed in this regard, since the loss of language and culture gradually weakens ties to Switzerland. Swiss associations abroad lean more toward cultural preservation and play a rather negligible role in the cultural exchange with foreign countries. The reverse is evident within Switzerland, where foreign diasporas play an important role (e.g., Muslim or Jewish inhabitants or individuals from Armenia or Sri Lanka, just to mention a few. See chapter 4.2.4). However, closer ties exist in the education sector. Thus, the Swiss Confederation currently supports 17 Swiss schools abroad with an annual sum of CHF 20 million.  The new Federal Act on the Promotion of Swiss Education Abroad aims to raise the profile of Swiss schools abroad as promoters of Swiss culture and education.

Chapter published: 12-11-2014

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