Amateur arts and folk culture
Approximately one million people are culturally active in Switzerland. The majority of the members of cultural associations are active in music and theatre. Approximately half a million musicians are active in 2 000 music associations, 1 850 choirs, 200 orchestras, 8 opera companies, and 380 music schools across the country. 900 amateur theatre groups with a total active membership of around 35 000 in French-speaking Switzerland alone stage 1 000 performances a year. The Swiss Traditional Costumes Association boasts over 20 000 members.
While cultural (umbrella) organisations are mainly supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Culture, an enormous number of amateur arts associations and cultural houses are financed on a private basis or supported by the cities and communes, often by monies generated by state lottery funds. In Switzerland, the significance of the country’s intangible cultural heritage for social cohesion, for the country’s cultural self-image, and for its image and appearance abroad, as well as that of its various regions, is firmly acknowledged. By ratifying the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of 16 July 2008, Switzerland has formally accepted and become part of the international legal framework for the promotion of cultural diversity (see chapter 2.9). For the period 2012-2015, the principal focus is on amateur arts and popular culture.
Cultural houses and community cultural clubs
Amateur arts associations play an important role within federalist Switzerland. More than 10% of the population serve as volunteers in cultural associations. (For statistics, see chapter 6.2). This is certainly due in large part to Switzerland’s observation of the federal principle. This is reflected in the diversity of cultural centres and activities, which are primarily given financial backing at the communal level. There are also public-private partnerships, such as the Dada House in Zurich. Significant for being the birthplace of the Dada movement, the building was rescued from near-death due to a planned building usage change, and has now been turned into the Cabaret Voltaire, a cultural centre, which, among others, is extending aspects of the avant-garde into the 21st century. On the administrative side, related institutions may be located in the corresponding cultural, youth, or social domains.