In addition to public support for cultural, educational or media institutions, services, organisations as part of the cultural, social and economic ecosystem that affects the practice, promotion and position of artists and creatives, Switzerland has a wide range of different support schemes for artists. At all levels – federal, cantonal, communal – similar approaches can be observed:
- grants or contributions for the training of artists;
- prizes via competitions (see chapter 7.2.3);
- support granted to artists’ studios abroad and in Switzerland;
- official Swiss contributions to international and national exhibitions (Pro Helvetia); and
- acquisition of works of art (e.g. for the National Art Collection (only by the Federal Office of Culture)).
- support for festivals, events, conferences etc.
On the federal level, the Federal Office of Culture (FOC)and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia are the two central bodies with promotional activities in the field of cultural creation. FOC’s tasks include improving the institutional framework conditions, drafting enactments in the field of culture and and promotion activities in the area of cultural creativity (films, prizes and awards, support for cultural organisations).
Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia promotes artistic creation and cultural exchange in Switzerland and works to promote Swiss culture abroad. It acts autonomously in a wide range of cultural sectors, with the exception of film. It grants awards, work grants and production funding to cultural practitioners (Artistic Creation) and promotes projects in the area of art and culture mediation. It further facilitates the launch of professional careers in the arts (Emerging Artists). Examples to show the spectrum of programmes in this area are: the Premio Young Theatre and Dance Competition in collaboration with 35 theatre and dance institutions from all over Switzerland, which provides performance opportunities as well as production contributions for young artists (Pro Helvetia is the main partner). In the field of visual arts, for example, Pro Helvetia supports curatorial initiatives by self-organised art spaces on behalf of aspiring artists in Switzerland. In the field of literature, Pro Helvetia introduced a mentoring programme for emerging literary translators in 2010.
“Kunst am Bau” (Art in Public Spaces)
As an advisory commission to the Federal Office of Culture, the Federal Art Commission participates in the judging of various competitions for “Kunst am Bau” (art in architecture) organised by the Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics. Cantons and cities have their own funding practices in the area of Kunst am Bau / Art in Public Spaces. For example, the city of Zurich reserves 0.3 to 1.5 per cent of the construction costs (excluding land) for such projects in the cost estimate for new buildings, extensions and renovations. The canton of Thurgau usually uses 1 per cent of the construction sum for this purpose for building projects that cost more than 3 million CHF.
Social and economic framework
“Adequate compensation of cultural workers” is a priority in the work programme of the National Cultural Dialogue 2021-2024. Income and compensation of cultural actors and people participating in artistic processes are still very limited. According to a survey published by Suisseculture Sociale in 2016, more than half of the artists in Switzerland live in precarious circumstances despite additional non-artistic gainful employment. This situation is related to the lack of regulation of working conditions – even when recommendations are made – and seems to be an important issue in future cultural policy. As stated in the Cultural Dispatch 2021-2024, the Confederation intends to work towards appropriate compensation for cultural practitioners in the future when it provides financial support. Starting in 2021, the FOC and Pro Helvetia intend to gradually link their grants within Switzerland to the condition that grant recipients comply with the guidelines of the relevant industry associations on the compensation of cultural workers. In addition, federal funding will increasingly take into account functions and activities that have a significant impact on the creative process and the dissemination of artistic works, such as curation, editing, dramaturgy or mentoring.
In order to improve the compatibility of work and caregiving/family, since 2020 it has been possible to offset the costs of caregiving in the case of long films that are selectively supported by the BAK with a production contribution.