There is a great variety of funding instruments on the cantonal and municipal level for artists’ and artist-related promotion:
- contributions to works in and across all disciplines (“Werkbeiträge”/”Kreationsbeiträge”; “Contributions”/”bourses”) between 10 000 and 30 000 CHF each,
- project contributions, purchases of works (a thousand CHF to more than 30 000 CHF),
- production or performance contributions, contributions for events (also in the form of deficit guarantees),
- contributions for publications (monographs, artists’ books, specialist publications),
- “Werkjahre” (one-year-scholarships; “sabbatical years”; City of Zurich: 48 000 CHF per year and recipient),
- studio and travel grants, contributions to off spaces, translations, material, travel and transport costs for the participation of artists in exhibitions, festivals, fairs outside the respective region and contributions for arts and audience outreach projects (“Kulturvermittlung”; e.g. Basel-City: between 15 000 and 30 000 CHF).
Lotteries bring to the cantons more than CHF 500 million, redistributed in the sectors of sport and culture. In the Canton of Zurich, for example, 30% percent flows into the Culture Fund (Kulturfonds; around 23 million CHF). For the period from 2017 to 2021, all funds for artist-related project contributions, work contributions and awards in the Canton were financed from the lottery fund of the Canton of Zurich.
Swiss artists and social security: Suisseculture Sociale
According to a survey published by Suisseculture Sociale (SCS) in 2016, more than half of the artists in Switzerland live in precarious circumstances despite additional non-artistic gainful employment and have no pension provision beyond the AHV. In 2021, SCS has published new survey-based data on the income situation of professional cultural workers. 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 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 on the levels of (1) information and counselling, (2) conditions for funding and (3) new solutions in social insurances – cultural sector as a pilot sector.
Established with funding from the Federal Office of Culture, “Suisseculture Sociale” is a social capital fund for artists in need; it operates according to the principle of subsidiarity. More specifically, large umbrella organisations like SUISA or Pro Litteris provide such funds to their members. Typical of Switzerland are the numerous small private funds for artists.
All of this, nevertheless, cannot hide the fact that a comprehensive social security framework for artists is non-existent in Switzerland. The Culture Promotion Act, enacted at the end of 2009, stipulates (Article 9) that the Confederation and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia must transfer a percentage of the financial assistance granted to creative artists to the individual artist’s pension fund or another form of financial provision. The Federal Council determines the percentage (see chapter 4.1.3).
The Cultural Fund (Kulturfonds), which is administered by the BAK, has an artistic and social character and supports professional artists with grants of between CHF 2 000 and CHF 10 000, taking into account the economic situation of the applicants.
Copyrights: the Swiss collective administration societies
The five Swiss collective administration societies – ProLitteris, SSA, SUISA, SUISSIMAGE and SWISSPERFORM – manage the rights of their members, including cultural practitioners and artists from different sectors. ProLitteris, for example, is responsible for the management of rights to literary and dramatic works, works of visual art or photography, in the areas of broadcasting rights, reprography, image rights or lending rights (e.g. library compensation). As a cooperative society for composers, lyricists and music publishers, SUISA is responsible for income from music copyright in Switzerland and abroad, an important source of income for music-related artists in Switzerland and Liechtenstein: including broadcasting rights (2020: 64. 3 million CHF), performance rights (2019: 52.1 million CHF), reproduction rights (2020: 4.3 million CHF), streaming/download (2019: 5.5 million CHF), blank carrier remuneration in the audio sector (2020: 7.8 million CHF) and total revenue from abroad (2020: 11.6 million CHF).