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Visual Arts

Focus Photo: support for new photographic projects

©Christina Werner

Application deadline:

1 November 2023

Only via myprohelvetia

Apply here


Ascanio Cecco
Visual Arts Specialist


The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia is launching a new pilot funding measure called Focus Photo. It is aimed at photographers and artists from Switzerland and supports the launch of new projects in the field of artistic, documentary, and/or applied photography.

In consultation with a group of experts, a new “focus” is defined every year, which artists can approach thematically, but also through artistic practices or creative processes. This enables Pro Helvetia to offer a targeted support, while simultaneously encouraging exchanges and debates on key issues in the field of contemporary photography.

In 2023, the focus is entitled « Photographic Uncertainties ».

In a time when new ways of creating images are being developed more rapidly than ever, be it with new types of cameras and camera equipment, computers, or artificial intelligence software, contemporary photography is faced with some uncertainties that sometimes even question the very survival of the medium. But how much is there really to it? Where do these uncertainties come from? And what creative potential do they hold?

This call for projects aims to give photographers concerned by these questions in their practice the means to address them in depth as part of a new project.

Focus photo is one of Pro Helvetia’s new measures to support photography. In doing so, the Arts Council is reinforcing and acknowledging the great diversity of photographic practice.

The project and possible approaches thereof

In the context of this call for applications, a project is defined as the production of a photographic work (analogue, digital, CGI, etc.) that is created and produced with a clear aim to be publicly presented. We encourage any approach that addresses the “focus” in an innovative and relevant way.

Possible approaches for this year’s focus “Photographic Uncertainties” include:

  • projects that take a critical look at issues of representation in photography, the authenticity of images or the further development of different photographic equipment and techniques
  • projects that take an experimental photographic approach to address this uncertainty
  • projects that shed light on uncertainties relating to production and working conditions in the field of photography


The contribution is a fixed amount of CHF 15,000 per project.


  • Projects must be in the field of artistic, documentary and/or applied photography. They should have an innovative and relevant approach towards the ‘focus’ and demonstrate high artistic quality. Attention will be particularly paid to the feasibility of the project, its final form and public presentation, as well as its importance in the applicant’s artistic development.
  • Projects must not have been presented publicly yet and must be created with a goal of public presentation (exhibition, publication, editorial, etc.).
  • Funding is available for all costs required to carry out the project, except for infrastructure, equipment and operating costs, incl. the maintenance costs of digital formats.
  • All criteria regarding artists as well as the general conditions presented in the Guidelines Visual Arts are binding.


The following projects are excluded:

  • Journalistic coverage and research projects (incl. print or digital press publication) as well as public relations projects
  • Projects that are part of an academic curriculum or a basic or advanced education or training course, as well was revised editions of publications, commissioned work and projects produced as part of an advertising campaign
  • Projects that are already ongoing

Submission of application and documents

The application must be submitted by 1st November at the latest. The Foundation only accepts applications submitted via myprohelvetia.ch.

Decisions are made within eight weeks after the application deadline.

Application dossiers must contain :

  • A concept of the project, including descriptions of content, form and presentation, as well as a timeline
  • A strategy for the public presentation, including supporting documents if it is already scheduled (invitations, contracts, etc.)
  • A detailed budget and financing plan
  • A PDF containing information on recent work and a CV including a list of public presentations held to date


General questions

What is considered a project?

  • In the context of this call for applications, a project is defined as the production of a photographic work (analogue, digital, CGI, etc.), created and produced with a clear aim to be publicly presented.

Are all project phases supported?

  • Yes, we support all stages of a project’s creation, e.g. research, production, presentation, etc. No grants are awarded for ongoing or finalised projects.
  • If your project is in progress or has already been finalised, event organising institutions can apply for event support in Switzerland or abroad.

Can I submit a project that does not address the “focus” thematically?

  • Yes, the “focus” can be approached in different ways, not only thematically. It may, for example, relate to the photographers’ working conditions or creative processes. Any approach that addresses the “focus” in an innovative and relevant way is encouraged.

Questions regarding the submission of applications

I applied for Work Grants; can I submit the same application to Focus Photo?

  • If the application is still being processed and no decision has yet been reached, you can withdraw your application from Work Grants and submit it to Focus Photo.
  • If a decision has been reached within the Work Grants measure, you cannot submit the same application to Focus Photo, unless the project has evolved significantly, and has developed a new direction.

I haven’t yet received a confirmation nor detailed information regarding the public presentation of my work. Can I still apply for Focus Photo?

  • Yes, however, a convincing strategy on how to publicly present the project is essential and must be clearly elaborated in the application.

Questions regarding the budget

Are all project-related costs taken into consideration when examining the application?

  • Yes, the contribution is available for all the costs required to carry out the project, except for costs regarding infrastructure, equipment and operation (incl. the purchase of equipment), as well as the maintenance costs of digital formats.

Can remuneration for collaborators taking part in the project be included in the budget?

  • Yes, if the collaboration is relevant to the project.

Does the project have to follow a specific remuneration scale or guidelines in order to receive support?

  • Pro Helvetia provides support on the condition that artists are remunerated appropriately. There is no fixed remuneration scale, but for information the Guide (DE/FR/IT) published by Visarte can be consulted.

Photo: ©Christina Werner/Bildrecht Wien, 2013