On 26 February 2020, the Federal Council adopted the Culture Dispatch 2021-2024 and confirmed the three central axes of action already defined for the 2016-2020 funding period: Cultural Participation, Social Cohesion and Creation and innovation. A particular emphasis is given to digitalisation. These points respond to identified megatrends (see chapter 1.3.3) and emphasise continuity in the support and exploration of digital challenges and new media (see chapter 2.4).
For the corresponding period, the Federal Council has earmarked CHF 934.5 million (around 886.6 million EUR) which represents 0.3% of the Confederation total expenses.
Besides these global trends, there are projects from the Confederation that reply to internal situations such as the support of musical talents and the intensification of school exchanges between linguistic regions, which was already a priority in the 2016-2020 funding period.
The place of the Baukultur, as well as the importance of the promotion of the Design and Interactive media (such as Videogames) in the broader sense of “Creation and Innovation”, responds to both a will to address cultural heritage and a forward-thinking perspective of culture linked to the economy.
Other issues of national importance in the last few years are:
- the discussion of new support schemes taking into increased account relations between public support and market structures;
- equality and gender issues within cultural participation and creation; support for new media, especially considering the context of digitalisation and streaming platforms;
- the extension of “art pieces” (oeuvre), as well as addressing intellectual property rights and copyright laws;
- broader debates on cultural funding (law on foundations and lotteries); the elaboration of an integral concept (promotion, training, social security) for the dance sector;
- the support of new literary forms; the promotion of cinematographic culture through international cooperation;
- the challenges of digitalisation around Cultural Heritage;
- the looted art from the Nazi period; and
- reading promotion (reading as a cultural skill: promoting the pleasure of reading and favouring access to books and the written culture, especially for children and young people).
Diversity and equality in the Swiss cultural sector
In the area of diversity and equal opportunities in the cultural sector, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, has defined these targets for 2021-2024:
- Support cultural institutions and provide them with active guidance in the development of diversity-oriented processes.
- Reduce barriers for cultural practitioners from marginalised population groups to the Swiss cultural sector and to opportunities for grants.
- Promote knowledge transfer in the areas of diversity and equality and provide practice-oriented guidelines for cultural institutions.
- Collect and disseminate data and facts on diversity in the Swiss cultural sector.
Gender relations in the Swiss cultural sector
The appropriate representation of gender in all relevant areas of cultural creation is an objective of the Confederation’s cultural policy. The Culture Dispatch 2021 – 2024 provides for the collection of in-depth statistical data and the examination of corresponding measures. In 2021, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia presented a preliminary study on gender relations with three key findings, as described on Pro Helvetia’s website:
- women are under-represented in leadership positions: At the level of strategic management (sponsoring bodies) of the cultural institutions and enterprises included in the analysis, women only represent 28.8 per cent of presidential positions.
- Female artists and their work have lower visibility and receive awards less often: In the performing arts, for example, the share of women in the fields of directing and choreography was around one third in the 2018/19 season. Among conductors in classical music, the share of women is 6.6 per cent. Among performers (soloists and orchestra/accompanying band) in classical music, the proportion of women is around 34 per cent, in jazz just under 12 per cent and in rock/pop between 8.6 and 12.8 per cent. The inequalities are also evident at the level of awards: Out of 828 awards examined, 37.1 per cent went to women.
- women earn less than men: According to the study, there are hardly any concrete figures on current pay ratios that would allow precise statements. According to the preliminary study, the data examined gave the first indications of a gender pay gap in favour of men.
According to the preliminary study, the central cause for the unequal ratio can be assumed to be the still effective orientation towards male-dominated life plans in the field of art and culture, from which topics such as the question of reconciling work and family, hierarchical power relations, as well as gender norms as an “unconscious bias” in the cultural sector can be derived. The preliminary study formulated the following recommendations (quoted from the website):
- data about incomes and the extent of the gender pay gap must be surveyed in depth.
- insight into career trajectories and information about central moments in artistic careers are necessary to understand the reasons artists choose to continue or abandon an artistic career.
- in a related aspect, the issue of compatibility of family and professional life must be investigated.
- the issue of financial support at various levels (federation, cantons, local government) requires greater research taking into account the complexity of funding mechanisms and opportunities.
- future research must integrate the areas of education and the universities (accessibility, selection criteria, curricula, teaching staff, number of students and graduates).
Income situation and social security of cultural workers
For the third time since 2006, the association Suisseculture Sociale has published survey-based data on the income situation of professional cultural workers in Switzerland in 2021. Whereas in 2016, 50% of cultural workers earned CHF 40 000 or less, in 2021 the proportion has risen to just under 60% (detached from the effects of the current Covid 19 crisis, according to SCS). This corresponds to a net monthly wage of around 3 000 CHF, whereas the gross median wage in Switzerland is around 6 500 CHF per month. According to the study, the social security of cultural workers in Switzerland in old age and in the event of loss of income also remains inadequate.
As part of the 2021 study, SCS presented concrete directions and recommendations for action in order to achieve necessary reforms in the field of social security at the federal level. The report bundles measures along three main lines: (1) information and counselling, (2) conditions for funding and (3) new solutions in social insurances – “the cultural sector as a pilot sector”. The issue remains high on the cultural policy agenda. “Adequate compensation of cultural workers” is among the priorities in the work programme of the National Cultural Dialogue 2021-2024.