Our Offices & Partners Abroad

Annual report 2018

Over 6000 supported art and cultural projects across Switzerland and in 108 countries: Pro Helvetia is looking back on 2018 with satisfaction.

Charles Beer, Chairman of the Board of Trustees


The year 2018 was marked by the discussion about the increasing importance of borders and by the growing resistance to the consequences of globalisation. These political developments make it even more important for culture to assume its essential role in society and to uphold various core values: openness, dialogue and bridge-building. Its mediating and critical role is essential at all levels today, whether international, continental, national or regional. Culture, in its own way, can contribute to understanding that we can only meet the current political, environmental and economic challenges if we address them simultaneously at the local and at the global level.

Show more Show less

Pro Helvetia is more than aware of this responsibility and is doing all it can to ensure that art and culture in their many forms have the necessary place in society. From creation to promotion, the Arts Council develops its activities in the various regions of Switzerland and also worldwide. It supports Swiss artists and the dissemination of their works with the intention of promoting their artistic development, giving them creative freedom and making them better known at home and abroad. In this sense, the Board of Trustees performs its duties in the interest of Swiss art and culture with great commitment. Its nine members reflect both Switzerland’s linguistic diversity and gender parity, as well as possess the cultural and operational skills required for an organisation like Pro Helvetia. We are therefore delighted that in 2018 we were able to welcome three new, highly qualified members — Francoise Konig Gerny, Marie-Therese Bonadonna and Hannes Gassert — who will make a significant contribution to fulfilling our mandate.

Philippe Bischof, Director


Networks shape our everyday lives. In the highly mobile world of art and culture, forms of cooperation are widespread. Artists network across borders, be they disciplinary, geographical or social.

One of Pro Helvetia’s central tasks as the Swiss Arts Council is not only to identify and facilitate important networks, but also to ensure that artists are able to create a lasting impact and to achieve resonance in the spaces thereby created. In times of worldwide political hardening and demarcation movements, it is indispensable to keep open free spaces for reflection and creativity. The new «COINCIDENCIA – Swiss & South American Cultural Exchanges» programme, which enabled numerous transcontinental cultural encounters and projects in 2018, made an important contribution in this respect. 120 projects have already been initiated or realised, in eight South American countries as well as in Switzerland, and numerous long-term cooperations have been established. Swiss artists have toured South America or have worked with local artists as part of research stays and workshops. The first productions and activities to emerge from these cooperations have been presented in various places in Switzerland, among others, in Nyon, Basel and Zurich.

Show more Show less

For an arts council like Pro Helvetia, however, creating impact and resonance also means advancing into new areas, both in terms of substance and of aesthetics. By establishing comprehensive support for design and interactive media, Pro Helvetia supports creative practitioners working at the interface between art, technology and business to assert themselves and their products in competitive international markets. The Swiss Arts Council accounts for these needs with a specific funding model designed to interrelate culture and business. In 2018, this approach achieved promising results: A total of 125 young game and design studios presented their sponsored creations and products at international trade fairs in San Francisco, Shenzhen, Paris, Milan and London, and thereby received direct feedback from retailers and industry.

Such projects, which are also commercially successful, ought not to disguise the fact that culture and its promotion can and should never function according to the rules of the classical market. This is because artists often operate in small niches and networks that are significant in their field and ensure that new forms of expression can emerge. One example is «Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival». While perhaps not known to a wider audience, it is one of the world’s most important platforms for new and experimental music. Pro Helvetia is delighted to have been able to support contemporary Swiss music in gaining great international attention thanks to several years of collaboration with this festival.

Sometimes, however, it may only take very few people to create resonance. Personally, I was particularly pleased last year by the commitment of the Geneva festival «Les Creatives», which spontaneously organised two panel discussions on the pressing issue of «Equal opportunities in culture». Considering the many events that we supported in 2018, this may appear to be a mere footnote to our activities. But it is precisely such well-targeted initiatives, motivated by current issues in cultural policy, that carry important concerns into new networks and enable us to think about tomorrow from today — always through alert interaction with the respective social, economic and political circumstances. For that is the real raison d’etre of cultural promotion: to deal actively and openly with the important questions of the present, in order to set the course for the future.


In 2018, Pro Helvetia supported over 1600 art and cultural projects across Switzerland. In the second year of its special focus «New models of collaboration – Culture and Business», the Art Council’s most important domestic measures included calls for design and interactive media projects. The new funding model successfully established itself in a short space of time.


Supporting creation: Granting financial support to artists to help them produce original works of art.

Exchange and promotion: Supporting artistic projects that promote exchange between regions and advance social cohesion.

Supporting emerging artists: Enabling emerging artists to access the professional arts scene.

Stimulating culture: Supporting innovative projects with a high cultural stimulus potential.

Cultural outreach: Promoting innovative and exemplary projects that enable broad audiences to critically engage with art and culture.

Our mission abroad

In 2018, Pro Helvetia supported a total of around 4500 art and cultural projects in 108 countries. Particular emphasis was placed on presenting Swiss focal programmes at important international events, as well as celebrating the anniversaries of our liaison offices in Cairo (30 years), Johannesburg (20 years) and New Delhi (10 years).


Dissemination: Strengthening the international presence of Swiss artists and the dissemination of their works abroad.

Promotion: Helping Swiss cultural practitioners forge contacts abroad and raise their visibility among international event managers and culture specialists.

Swiss participation: Sponsoring Swiss participation and special features on Swiss creation at internationally renowned events.

International cultural exchange: Fostering knowledge exchange between Swiss and international arts practitioners.

New networks, regions and markets: Preparing the ground for Swiss cultural practitioners to enter new networks, regions and markets.

Our offices abroad

Pro Helvetia promotes cultural exchange between Switzerland and the outside world through its network of offices abroad. These include five liaison offices, the Centre culturel suisse run by Pro Helvetia in Paris, and several partner institutions.

Pro Helvetia’s liaison offices abroad are key to the Arts Council’s international cultural exchange work. Since 1988, the liaison office in Cairo is a stable anchor point that enables Pro Helvetia to pursue its mission of promoting Swiss art and culture in the Arab world.

Pro Helvetia’s liaison offices abroad are key to the Arts Council’s international cultural exchange work. Since 1998, the liaison office in Johannesburg is a stable anchor point that enables Pro Helvetia to pursue its mission of promoting Swiss art and culture in Southern Africa.

Pro Helvetia’s liaison offices abroad are key to the Arts Council’s international cultural exchange work. Since 2007, the liaison office in New Delhi is a stable anchor point that enables Pro Helvetia to pursue its mission of promoting Swiss art and culture in South Asia.

Pro Helvetia’s liaison offices abroad are key to the Arts Council’s international cultural exchange work. Since 2010, the liaison office in Shanghai is a stable anchor point that enables Pro Helvetia to pursue its mission of promoting Swiss art and culture in China.

Pro Helvetia’s liaison offices abroad are key to the Arts Council’s international cultural exchange work. Since 2017, the liaison office in Moscow is a stable anchor point that enables Pro Helvetia to pursue its mission of promoting Swiss art and culture in Russia.

Funded by Pro Helvetia, the Centre culturel suisse in Paris is dedicated to raising awareness for contemporary Swiss arts and culture, in France and particularly in Paris.

Facts and figures

Of the CHF 42.1 million available to Pro Helvetia in 2018, 88.2% were invested directly in culture. At 11.8%, the share of administration costs was well below the federal government’s strategic target of 15%. In 2018, Pro Helvetia received almost 5500 applications.

Culture – our top priority

  • Cultural information
  • Stimulus and exchange programmes
  • Projects of offices abroad
  • Projects resulting from applications

88.2% of the CHF 42.1 million spent by Pro Helvetia in 2018 went directly to culture. Administrative costs (11.8%), calculated on the basis of ZEWO standards, remained clearly below the strategic threshold of 15% prescribed by the Swiss Confederation.

Projects resulting from applications 24.7 million
Projects of offices abroad 6.2 million
Stimulus and exchange programmes 4.7 million
Cultural information 0.5 million
Administration 5.0 million
Amounts spent in CHF

In the context of the Federal Cultural Policy Statement («Cultural Message»), Swiss Parliament grants Pro Helvetia a framework budget every four years. The Arts Council will receive CHF 210.9 million for the 2016–2020 period (a one-off five-year period). The 2018 instalment of CHF 42.3 million amounted to CHF 40.3 million due to budget cuts.

Overview of applications received

In 2018, Pro Helvetia received 5492 applications. Support was granted to projects in the visual arts, music, literature and society, theatre, dance and — subsumed under the umbrella term «Interdisciplinarity» — to cross-disciplinary projects including interactive media, design and new technologies.

Development of the number of applications

  • Applications received
  • Applications accepted
  • Percentage of applications accepted

The annual increase in the number of applications continued in 2018. On the one hand, this reflects intensive artistic production and the large number of university graduates. For example, applications in the field of music have increased by around 30% since 2012. On the other hand, the additional calls, especially in the fields of design and interactive media, have also contributed to the increase.

Support granted with due emphasis on diversity

  • Swiss population by language region Source: Federal Statistical Office (as at: 2018)
  • Project funds granted

Support granted by Pro Helvetia takes into account Switzerland’s linguistic and cultural diversity.

Support granted in all regions of Switzerland

In 2018, Pro Helvetia’s support helped to realise 1644 art and cultural projects in Switzerland. These were spread across 223 localities across the country – from municipalities in rural regions such as Scuol, Gelfingen or Verscio to medium-size towns such as Lenzburg, Fribourg or Locarno and densely populated urban centres such as Bern, Geneva, Basel or Zurich.

Promotion of Swiss culture around the world

In addition to its domestic activities, Pro Helvetia supported around 4500 Swiss art and cultural projects in 108 countries in 2018.

Supported Projects

Organisational Chart

Annual report 2018 Print Download PDF
Organisation (As at 31 December 2018) Download PDF

Annual Report Archives 2016-2017

The annual report has been produced in English since 2016. To consult previous projects, please contact us at the address communication@prohelvetia.ch.

Upcoming maintenance work

The application portal myprohelvetia will be updated from 1.1.-7.1.2024. Due to these changes, open applications must be finalized and submitted via the current online portal (myprohelvetia.ch) by the latest 23:59 on 31 December 2023. Until this date, the deadlines and criteria outlined in the current guidelines and calls for applications apply. New applications can be created and submitted in the application portal as of 8 January 2024.