The Confederation awards various prizes and honours to acknowledge the achievement of Swiss artists and thus to draw attention to their significance on a national and international level. Federal awards and prizes are a means of promoting the arts and culture. Based on a competitive process and portfolio submissions, prizes are awarded for productions and works that are particularly innovative or original, that pursue unusual approaches, and that demonstrate professional execution. Awards and honours, however, are conferred based on prior nomination (no portfolio submissions) and are meant to acknowledge a long-standing and important artistic career. Prizes are awarded in all sectors of the arts: art (art, architecture, and education), design, literature, dance, theatre, and music. Grand Prix awards and honours for an outstanding artistic career or life’s work are conferred in each discipline.
The Confederation aims to further enhance the significance of these prizes in the period 2016–2019. In association with Pro Helvetia and Swiss representations abroad, several promotional measures benefiting laureates will be adopted to strengthen the importance of Swiss prizes nationally and internationally.
Larger cantons and cities also award prizes and special awards, for instance, in recognition of particular services to bringing the arts and culture to a wider audience. Cultural awards are also conferred in the form of annual scholarships and work grants for outstanding achievements in literature, electronic music, theatre, dance, jazz / rock / pop, and comics.
Smaller cantons and cities do not have such a multitude of schemes. They support artists in a more project-based way, for example, with state-lottery funding. Some cities jointly own artists’ studios abroad.
Private cultural foundations and associations commission annual works in different sectors of the arts and culture, and provide studios abroad for artists (these studios are owned by the foundations or associations).