There is no comprehensive social security framework for artists in Switzerland. The Culture Promotion Act stipulates (Art. 9) that the Confederation and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia transfer a percentage of the financial assistance granted to creative artists to the individual’s pension fund or another form of financial provision. The Federal Council determines the percentage (see Art. 9 CuPA), which is currently 12%. This amount is equally financed by the cultural practitioner and half by the Federal Office of Culture and Pro Helvetia respectively.
This issue is also a priority for umbrella associations, and some steps in this area have already been taken. To date, three voluntary Vorsorgeeinrichtungen (pension funds) in the area of film, the performing and dramatic arts, and music have existed; they are all private foundations, some are solidarity funds, while others are run by collecting societies. With the financial support of the Federal Office of Culture, “Suisseculture Sociale” (a social capital scheme for artists in need, which acts on the basis of subsidiarity) and “Suisseculture Contact” (an advice centre for artists), have been established. In 2020 and until the end of 2021, the Suisseculture Sociale association is operating an emergency fund (“Notfonds”) for supplementary support for professional cultural workers who have experienced economic hardship as a result of Covid-19 and related measures (based on the Federal Act on the Legal Basis for Federal Council Ordinances to Deal with the Covid-19 Epidemic (Covid-19 Act, SR 818. 102) of 25 September 2020 and on the Ordinance of 14 October 2020 on Measures in the Cultural Sector pursuant to the Covid-19 Act (Covid-19 Cultural Ordinance, SR 442.15).
Artists, unemployment and Switzerland’s old-age insurance system
Self-employed artists and cultural workers are in principle not entitled to unemployment insurance benefits (Arbeitslosenversicherung ALV) and are responsible for their own occupational benefits and for covering the risk of unemployment. A report published in 2007 by the Federal Office of Culture on the Social Security of Cultural Workers in Switzerland describes the legal context: Claims from the ALV can be made by those who meet the eligibility requirements according to Art. 8 para. 1 of the Federal Law on Compulsory Unemployment Insurance and Insolvency Compensation (AVIG). In principle, persons must have been in employment for at least twelve months (twelve-month contribution period) in the two years before becoming unemployed. According to Art. 12a AVIV, for insured persons in occupations with frequently changing or temporary employment, the contribution period is doubled for the first 30 calendar days of a temporary employment relationship. According to Art. 8 AVIV, professions in which frequently changing or fixed-term employment is common include in particular “musician, actor, artist, artistic employee for radio, television or film, film technician and journalist”.