Over 6000 supported art and cultural projects across Switzerland and in 120 countries: Pro Helvetia is looking back on 2019 with satisfaction.
Preface by Charles Beer and Philippe Bischof
Taking a look back can help us to see what is lying ahead more clearly. At least, that's how we feel when we look back at Pro Helvetia’s 80-year history: who would have thought that the politically motivated idea to establish a «Working Group for Swiss Cultural Preservation and Promotion» in 1939 would lead to today’s Pro Helvetia, an organisation that is deeply committed to supporting Swiss cultural projects in over 100 countries across the world.
In 2019, Pro Helvetia supported over 1600 art and cultural projects across Switzerland. Supporting Swiss artistic creation in all its diversity and ensuring its dissemination across Switzerland’s different language regions are at the heart of Pro Helvetia’s activities. The Arts Council is also committed to giving new impetus to cultural life through its initiatives. Pro Helvetia supports projects of national significance.
As part of its international activities, in 2019 Pro Helvetia supported a total of over 4500 art and cultural projects in 120 countries. Pro Helvetia supports the presentation of Swiss artistic projects abroad. It also promotes Swiss art and culture in an international context, for example at various platforms such as trade fairs and biennials. Its global network and its country programmes foster cultural exchange with other cultural regions.
Pro Helvetia’s global network includes five liaison offices, the Centre culturel suisse in Paris and several partner institutions. The Coincidencia – Swiss & South American Cultural Exchanges» programme is currently exploring the possibility of opening a new liaison office in South America. During the reporting year, Pro Helvetia’s liaison offices established new partnerships in various countries, to help access new regions and markets for cultural exchange and the dissemination of Swiss culture.
Of the CHF 42.4 million available to Pro Helvetia in 2019, 87.2 per cent were invested directly in culture. At 12.8 per cent, the share of administration costs was, as in previous years, well below the federal government’s strategic target of 15 per cent. In 2019, Pro Helvetia received 5348 applications. Compared to the previous year, the share of approved applications rose by about 1 per cent to 48.4 per cent.
87.2 per cent of the CHF 42.4 million spent by Pro Helvetia in 2019 went directly to culture. Administrative costs (12.8%), calculated on the basis of ZEWO standards, remained clearly below the strategic threshold of 15 per cent prescribed by the Swiss Confederation.
|Projects resulting from applications||25.8 million|
|Projects of offices abroad||6.1 million|
|Stimulus and exchange programmes||4.6 million|
|Cultural information||0.5 million|
|Amounts spent in CHF|
In 2019, Pro Helvetia received 5348 applications. Support was granted to projects in dance, literature and society, music, theatre, visual arts and — subsumed under the umbrella term «interdisciplinarity» – to cross-disciplinary projects including interactive media, design and new technologies.No Pro Helvetia funding decision was appealed against in 2019. Last year’s appeal to the Federal Administrative Court was upheld in a ruling of 22 January 2019. However, no reassessment was required, as the application was withdrawn.
The share of approved applications rose by about 1 per cent to 48.4 per cent compared to the previous year. At the same time, the number of applications received declined slightly. The absolute value of approved applications thus remained constant. Applicants also received slightly higher amounts on average. The slightly lower number of applications received is due in particular to improved advance information.
Support granted by Pro Helvetia takes into account Switzerland’s linguistic and cultural diversity.
In 2019, Pro Helvetia’s support helped to realise 1611 art and cultural projects in 228 places across Switzerland – from rural municipalities (e.g. Lavin, Giswil or Muggio) through medium-size towns (e.g. Nyon, Chiasso or Biel) to densely populated urban centres (e.g. Bern, Geneva, Basel or Zurich).
Besides its domestic activities, Pro Helvetia supported over 4500 Swiss art and cultural projects in 120 countries in 2019.
Pro Helvetia regularly evaluates its most important programmes and promotional measures. In 2019, it evaluated the special focus «Culture and Business», the «Coincidencia – Swiss & South American Cultural Exchanges» programme and the promotional platform «Sélection Suisse en Avignon». The evaluations provide important information on the quality of the various activities and on any need for adjustment.
The external evaluation of the special focus «Culture and Business» revealed that this pilot project is bearing fruit. The focus is part of the 2016–2020 Cultural Message and enables Pro Helvetia to introduce measures to help creative professionals and emerging talents in the fields of interactive media and design to acquire the tools needed for their development. The programme creates added value for actors in the sector by facilitating market access, by supporting professionalization and by building a network and making knowledge and know-how available. The over 700 projects submitted to date in response to the various calls for proposals show that the focus meets a real need within the scene. The evaluation also identified room for improving matchmaking and coaching offers besides suggesting new tools. The observations and recommendations will be incorporated into the ongoing deliberations on the sustainable continuation of this pilot scheme.
In order to open up new opportunities for performance and exchange in one of the world’s culturally most diverse and dynamic regions, the Arts Council launched the «Coincidencia» programme between Switzerland and South America as part of its 2016–2020 Cultural Message. An evaluation of the programme carried out at the end of 2019 aimed to examine whether South America offers a promising and relevant environment for Pro Helvetia’s intensified cultural exchange and promotional activities. The quantitative potential in terms of artistic and cultural exchange was judged to be very high, with over 235 projects involving some 600 events. Other parameters examined included project quality, geographical scope, partnership quality, economic, political and security conditions, and the structure and financing of a possible permanent presence. The results will form the basis for deciding whether to open a new liaison office in South America.
Back in 2016, Pro Helvetia and the «Commission romande de diffusion des spectacles» (Corodis) launched the «Sélection Suisse en Avignon», a Swiss platform at the «Festival OFF d’Avignon». The aim of the platform is to draw more attention to the Swiss scene at the most important industry meeting in the francophone region and thus enable selected productions to have more guest performances abroad. An evaluation carried out after three editions revealed that the «Sélection Suisse» has gained a great deal of visibility in a short space of time and has successfully brought together the selected dance and theatre professionals. At the time of evaluation, 236 platform-based guest performances abroad had already been confirmed. Each year, around 500 programme managers attended the Swiss plays performed in Avignon; 60 to 80 articles have appeared each year, some in major French daily newspapers. Based on the very positive evaluation, Pro Helvetia has decided to support the project for another four years (until 2023) and to extend its manager’s contract for another two years, to enable consolidating and further pursuing the development work successfully undertaken to date.