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Art, Science and Technology

PolARTS: Call for proposals

© Jean-Vincent Simonet


The application deadline for PolARTS has expired. The next call for applications is scheduled for the end of 2023.

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PolARTS is a joint initiative of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and the Swiss Polar Institute to stimulate the exchange and foster the collaboration between art and science. The PolARTS initiative opens a space for new collaborative and explorative practices and supports the processes of transdisciplinary cooperation.

This call for proposals is aimed at both artists and scientists who are interested in collaborating. The PolARTS initiative supports up to three tandems composed of an artist and a polar scientist over a period of twelve to eighteen months. The tandems will meet on a regular basis on different sites (laboratories, studios, scientific and artistic events and gatherings, etc.) and exchange on their research, professional activities, career perspectives, work background, etc. PolARTS is about a process, not about an end product. It offers research grants and focuses on the exchange and exploratory processes rather than a tangible output.

Artists and scientists interested in forming a tandem are requested to propose a collaborative process over a period of approximately twelve to eighteen months, defining format, objectives, and motivation. The tandem’s proposal must engage with topics and research linked to polar regions, the Arctic or Antarctic, or to remote high-altitude regions, such as the Andes or the Himalaya.

Criteria and conditions

A tandem must be composed of one scientist and one artist.
The PolARTS initiative encourages the participation of scientists who meet the following criteria:

  • Level of seniority from PhD students onwards
  • Actively working on polar topics, including research from fields considered “non-typical” for polar sciences (e.g. engineering, material sciences, medicine, humanities, social sciences, etc.)
  • Affiliated to a Swiss public research institution
  • No previous funding by PolARTS

The PolARTS initiative encourages the participation of artists who meet the following criteria:

  • Convincing track record of professional artistic practice
  • Holding Swiss nationality or active in the Swiss artistic scene
  • Active in any of the disciplines supported by Pro Helvetia (Design, Interactive Media, Literature, Music, Performing Arts, Visual Arts)
  • No previous funding by PolARTS

The proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Added value for the tandem partners/synergy within the tandem
  • Mutual inspiration and influence/capacity to overcome disciplinary boundaries
  • Originality, quality and potential of the collaboration

Optional fieldtrip

The artist can additionally request support for a fieldtrip to polar regions and remote high-altitude areas.
Such a fieldtrip should take place in the framework of the fieldwork of the scientist tandem partner (i.e. the artist would accompany the scientist and/or their team during already planned fieldwork). Undertaking a fieldtrip is optional. The timeframe for the undertaking of a fieldtrip is May 2022 until the end of the foreseen duration of the tandem (latest November 2023).
Artists who want to apply for support for a fieldtrip must submit a separate proposal (application form B). This proposal can be handed in up to two months prior to the proposed fieldtrip.

The PolARTS research grant

PolARTS grants each tandem a research funding which includes the following support and conditions:

  • Up to 7’000 CHF compensation for the artist to cover living expenses (artist only).
    Compensation will be paid to the artist for every day dedicated to the activities of the tandem, on a self-defined per diem basis (minimum of 12 half days are required). The artist can claim this support under the condition that she/he is self-employed while working within the framework of the tandem.
  • Up to 5’500 CHF in support of the operational costs of the tandem (both artist and scientist).
    This, for instance, includes the transport costs of the tandem partners, or the purchase of consumables needed for scientific or artistic work (scientific experiments, material for creative activities, etc.).
  • Up to 10’000 CHF in support for a field trip to the polar regions, upon separate application (artist only).
    Funding for the field trip will be granted based on a separate budget. The exact sum of the funding will be defined in proportion to the size of the fieldtrip.

Follow-up projects (i.e after completion of the PolARTS tandem)
Request can be submitted to Pro Helvetia within the scope of regular funding activities. For more information, please refer to prohelvetia.ch or to Ariane Rippstein.


The selected tandem of the PolARTS programme will be expected to:

  • Engage in research based on the submitted proposal.
  • Schedule and attend regular meetings and exchanges with their respective tandem partners.
  • Participate in three PolARTS workshops organised by Pro Helvetia and SPI.
  • Submit a brief report and evaluation of the programme.

Submission of the application

A full application consists of the following:

  1. Online application form (compulsory – contact and main information)
    1.1  Application form A – joint tandem application (compulsory – use provided word form and upload as PDF)
    1.2  CV of the scientist and publications list (compulsory – free format, upload as PDF)
    1.3  Portfolio and CV of the artist with artistic practice (compulsory – free format, upload as PDF)
    1.4  Application form B – Field trip (optional – use provided word form and upload as PDF)

All application documents (see above 1.1 to 1.4) must be in English and must be uploaded through the online application system. Applications sent by email will not be accepted. Incomplete proposals will be considered ineligible.
No late applications will be accepted: the deadline for submission is 31 January 2022 17:00 (Swiss time).

Should any problem occur in the submission process, please contact the Swiss Polar Insitute. Please note however that trouble-shooting shortly before the deadline cannot be guaranteed and that SPI will not accept applications sent by email.


Eligible proposals submitted before the deadline will be evaluated by a jury panel jointly appointed by the SPI and Pro Helvetia.

The decisions taken by the jury panel will be announced at the latest 3 months after the application deadline. Successful applicants must sign a grant agreement with the SPI and Pro Helvetia that specifies the conditions for the grant (reporting, payments, etc.).