With its support for more than 4,000 events abroad and almost 1,500 artistic and cultural projects in Switzerland, Pro Helvetia is looking back on 2017 with satisfaction.
A look at the year 2017
Opening of the liaison office in Moscow
Berlin and London
New promotional structures in Berlin and London
First calls for interactive media and design projects
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia
Inauguration of «COINCIDENDIA – Swiss & South American Cultural Exchanges»
Swiss literature at the Frankfurt Book Fair «Francfort en français»
Philippe Bischof is the new director
Preface by Charles Beer, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
A COLLABORATIVE APPROACH AND CLEAR PRIORITIES
In 2017, Pro Helvetia underwent major renewal at several levels of the organisation, from management to the Board of Trustees. This transition was successfully mastered, backed by the solid processes and well-anchored activities that the Arts Council can build on in Switzerland and across the world. The year 2017 was also marked by significant progress in implementing the new features of the Federal cultural policy statement for 2016–2020.
In 2017, Pro Helvetia’s Management, Board of Trustees and Committee of Experts underwent major changes. The implementation of these changes underscored the Arts Council’s trademark ability to operate collectively, on the basis of shared values, clear priorities and an institutional agenda identified with across the organisation.
Sabina Schwarzenbach, interim director since December 2016, succeeded in harnessing Pro Helvetia’s resources, thus ensuring that projects could not only be pursued but also continue to evolve. We are delighted that Philippe Bischof joined Pro Helvetia’s management last autumn, and that the organisation will benefit from his in-depth knowledge of cultural policy, his experience in managing complex organisations, his openness and his interest in innovation – all of them indispensible characteristics in view of the tasks he has been entrusted with. The changes on the Board of Trustees are due to the term limits applicable. Finding appropriate successors for the three outgoing members Anne-Catherine Sutermeister (Vice-President), Felix Uhlmann and Guillaume Juppin de Fondaumière represented a significant challenge, both in terms of the skills required and the regional and gender balance that needed to be maintained. We are very pleased to welcome the following new members: Françoise König Gerny from Basel, Marie-Thérèse Bonadonna from La Chaux-de-Fonds and Hannes Gassert from Zurich, all of whom share the values of Pro Helvetia and its collaborative approach.
I am especially proud to report that we are well on track in implementing the new features of the 2016–2020 Federal cultural policy statement. While the previous year’s focus had been primarily on research and conceptual work, we were able to put new measures into practice in the year under review. For instance, we awarded the first work grants – to be conferred twice a year – in the visual arts domain, and launched the first calls for interactive media and design projects as part of our «New models of collaboration – Culture and Business» programme. We also completed and consolidated our support measures for emerging artists, set up our new promotional structures in Berlin and London, and launched COINCIDENCIA, our new cultural exchange programme with South America, in October 2017.
We are already now looking ahead to the possible implications of the next Federal cultural policy statement (2021–2024) and are preparing for future challenges and new themes. Pro Helvetia must constantly reassess its activities and draw appropriate conclusions to be properly equipped for the medium and long term future. In so doing, our institution can rely on one of its traditional strengths: the ability to strike the right balance between stability and innovation.
Sabina Schwarzenbach, Interim director until 31 October 2017
Philippe Bischof, Director since 1 November 2017
«UNDERSTANDING, LEARNING, DEVELOPING»
Promoting cultural diversity and cultural exchange are two of Pro Helvetia’s principal tasks to which we devoted intense efforts in 2017. In a turbulent world, in which divisive worldviews and exclusion are on the rise, we see it as our responsibility to foster art as a means of promoting dialogue on different value systems and their influence on liberal society, and thus to contribute to mutual understanding between cultures in Switzerland and abroad.
Understanding is also an act of translation. This makes it all the more surprising that the importance of literary translation is still not universally recognised. It is often forgotten that translation is an artistic activity in its own right and that translators play a significant role as intermediaries. In multilingual Switzerland, this is a crucial aspect, since the exchange of information across language boundaries is a prerequisite for a sustainable sense of togetherness. The book industry alone is rarely in a position to take the financial risk involved in translating high-quality literature that lacks bestseller potential. This is one of the reasons why Pro Helvetia has substantially increased its funding of translation from 2017 onwards. We want to make a significant contribution to ensuring that a larger range of works from one linguistic region in Switzerland becomes available to another in the form of translation.
Increasing not only the number, but also the quality of translations pays off twice over. Not only does this contribute to disseminating Swiss literature at home, but it also raises the likelihood of authors from Switzerland becoming noticed internationally. At this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, France, as guest of honour, invited Pro Helvetia to present literature from French-speaking Switzerland as part of its «Francfort en français» programme. The event met with great interest and highlighted the importance of literature from French-speaking Switzerland in the Francophone world as a whole.
«Dans la vie, rien n’est à craindre, tout est à comprendre.» What Marie Curie said about the natural sciences is also perfectly applicable to our mission: nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understand. As part of its mission to promote cultural exchange with other countries, Pro Helvetia aims to contribute to such understanding. In 2017, we accomplished two important milestones in our cross-cultural work:
In February, following the four-year exchange programme «Swiss Made in Russia – Contemporary Cultural Exchanges », we opened our liaison office in Moscow. The new office enables us to present Swiss art and culture in the world’s largest country, and it also offers Swiss and Russian artists the opportunity to address different cultural and social contexts through joint dialogue.
In October, Pro Helvetia launched «COINCIDENCIA – Swiss & South American Cultural Exchanges» in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia. The new programme examines the possibilities of closer cultural exchange between Switzerland and countries in South America. Establishing new contacts and cooperation opportunities is a wish shared by many Swiss cultural practitioners seeking more intense exchange with this emerging region.
In the course of the management transition, we set ourselves the internal goal of gaining a fresh understanding of each other and of the work we do. The director’s baton was handed over on 1 November following an interim management phase. Understanding, learning, developing: this is a leitmotif in 2018 for our fostering of a diverse and successful Swiss art and culture scene, a fostering in which Pro Helvetia plays a leading and connecting role.
Our activities in Switzerland
In 2017, Pro Helvetia supported some 1,500 artistic and cultural projects across Switzerland. Important milestones include the launch of the first call for design and interactive media projects as part of the «New models of collaboration – Culture and Business» programme, and the expansion of support for emerging artists.
In 2017, Pro Helvetia awarded work grants to Swiss artists to enable original creations in the disciplines of visual arts, music, dance, theatre and literature. Funding was, for example provided for Shahryar Nashat’s installation shown at Kunsthalle Basel and for the production of the interdisciplinary performance «Orlando New Paradigm Opera» under the artistic direction of Julie Beauvais.
Supporting creation: Granting financial support to artists to help them produce original works of art.
Exchange and promotion
In 2017, Pro Helvetia supported, for example, a tour of ten jazz bands, which performed in 25 clubs across Switzerland as part of the travelling «Suisse Diagonales Jazz» festival. It also supported the travelling exhibition «Niklaus von Flüe – Unterwegs», which toured across all cantons and was put on show at no fewer than 31 locations.
Exchange and promotion: Supporting artistic projects that promote exchange between regions and advance social cohesion.
Supporting emerging artists
In 2017, Pro Helvetia collaborated with five renowned theatre festivals (Festival d’Avignon, Theatertreffen Berlin, FTA Montreal, Bienal Arte Joven Buenos Aires, FITA Singapore) to offer Swiss artists the opportunity to participate in international meet-ups of young stage professionals. It also launched a new support scheme for curators who work on projects with young artists.
Supporting emerging artists: Enabling emerging artists to access the professional arts scene.
In 2017, in connection with its «New models of collaboration – Culture and Business» programme, Pro Helvetia launched the pilot phase for a new support scheme in the fields of design and interactive media. The aim is to accompany the entire creative process, from project conception to market launch. An example in the field of design was the production grant awarded to Stefan Rechsteiner and Patrick Rüegg of Velt for their first collection of women’s bags.
Stimulating culture: Supporting innovative projects with a high cultural stimulus potential.
In 2017, Pro Helvetia supported, for example, the «Musée Imaginaire Suisse», a transregional platform and collaborative network seeking to foster independent reflection on works of art. Pro Helvetia also provided funding for the second season of an outreach initiative involving a multidisciplinary arts programme as the basis for peer-to-peer exchange among audiences not well acquainted with the cultural scene.
Cultural outreach: Supporting exemplary and innovative projects that facilitate and encourage
engagement with the arts.
Our activities abroad
In 2017, Pro Helvetia supported over 4,000 artistic and cultural projects in 102 countries worldwide. In particular, it strengthened its presence in Europe by developing flexible promotional structures in London and Berlin, and in South America with the inauguration of its COINCIDENCIA cultural exchange programme.
In 2017, Pro Helvetia supported, for example, Balthasar Burkhard’s «Corpus», a travelling exhibition presented, among other places, at the Folkwang Museum in Essen. It also initiated a tour of four dance and theatre companies in Asia that involved over 50 performances in eight countries, from Bangkok via Hanoi to Hong Kong. Pro Helvetia also supported around 200 translation projects in 2017 in order to disseminate Swiss literature in the international market.
Dissemination: Strengthening the international presence of Swiss artists and the dissemination of their works abroad.
In 2017, Pro Helvetia promoted Swiss arts and culture by launching platforms such as PERFORMINGARTS-SELECTION.CH or SWISSMUSIC.CH, or through promotional meetings. As a case in point, Pro Helvetia supported the Swiss Contemporary Dance Days in Geneva, during which 300 event managers from 38 countries were able to discover Swiss choreographic production. In the field of interactive media, Pro Helvetia enabled Swiss video game studios to present themselves at major trade fairs, for instance at Gamescom in Cologne, the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and the VR Days Europe in Amsterdam.
Promotion: Helping Swiss cultural practitioners forge contacts abroad and raise their visibility among international event managers and culture specialists.
In 2017, in collaboration with ASDEL, Pro Helvetia accepted an invitation from France, the guest of honour at the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair, to present French-language Swiss literature at an event entitled «Francfort en français». In the field of pop music, Switzerland was the guest of honour at «The Great Escape», a festival showcasing new music in Brighton, which Pro Helvetia organised in association with Swiss Music Export.
Swiss participation: Enabling Swiss participations and special features on Swiss creation at internationally renowned events.
International cultural exchange
Pro Helvetia collaborates closely with its liaison offices and thus enables numerous cultural practitioners from various disciplines and regions to benefit from studio residencies abroad. One of them in 2017 was dancer and choreographer Chris Leuenberger, who spent a residency in Bangalore. In exchange, artists from the regions covered by the liaison offices are offered the same in Switzerland. Video artist Li Wei from Beijing, for example, benefited from a studio residency at Villa Sträuli in Winterthur.
International cultural exchange: Fostering knowledge exchange between Swiss and international arts practitioners.
New networks, regions and markets
In autumn 2017, Pro Helvetia inaugurated «COINCIDENCIA – Swiss & South America Cultural Exchanges» in the cities of São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Bogotà and Santiago de Chile. To enhance the visibility of Swiss art and culture in Europe, Pro Helvetia has created flexible promotional structures in London and Berlin. It has also launched a call for projects to promote European cooperation in the performing arts.
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 its liaison offices, the Centre culturel suisse run by Pro Helvetia in Paris, and several partner institutions.
In 2017, Pro Helvetia Cairo supported for example the exhibition «WeltformatDXB», supplemented by poster design workshops, presentations and a publication. Having enjoyed great success in Cairo, the project was presented at Dubai Design Week in November. The exhibition is a collaboration between Tashkeel, Weltformat, a Lucerne-based design collective, designer Engy Aly and Mobius Design. prohelvetia.org.eg
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 Johannesburg
In 2017, Pro Helvetia Johannesburg supported for example «21 – Memories of Growing Up», a video project initiated by Mats Staub. After filming in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Serbia, the Swiss artist collaborated with Maia Marie and Nomonde Mbusi to create new portraits, which were presented in various cities in South Africa. prohelvetia.org.za
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 New Delhi
Pro Helvetia New Delhi, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2017, supported for example the presentation of «JINX 103» by the contemporary dance company Cie József Trefeli at the Expressions International Contemporary Dance Festival in Delhi and the Carter Road Amphitheatre in Mumbai. prohelvetia.in
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 Shanghai
In 2017, Pro Helvetia Shanghai, in partnership with Fotostiftung Schweiz and OCAT Shanghai, initiated and supported a residency that culminated in «Follow_Me – New narratives in contemporary photography», an exhibition of young Chinese and Swiss photographers curated by Peter Pfrunder (Switzerland) and Shi Hantao (China). prohelvetia.cn
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 Moscow
Pro Helvetia Moscow was inaugurated in February 2017. It supported Thom Luz’s «Unusual Weather Phenomena Project» and Boris Nikitin’s «Martin Luther Propagandapiece», two theatre productions staged in collaboration with the School of Dramatic Art Ensemble at the New European Theatre festival NET, known for its willingness to embrace experiment. prohelvetia.ru
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.
Centre culturel Suisse de Paris
In 2017, The Centre culturel suisse in Paris hosted, for example, the festival «Extra Ball» in collaboration with the Lausanne-based «Les Urbaines» festival. The latter was given carte blanche to mark its 20th anniversary, and offered Paris audiences numerous highlights from its transdisciplinary programme over the past years. www.ccsparis.com
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 39.8 million that Pro Helvetia spent in 2017, 88.1% went directly to culture. Administrative costs (11.9%) remain clearly below the strategic threshold of 15% prescribed by the Swiss Confederation. Pro Helvetia received more than 5,000 applications in 2017.
Culture – our top priority
Stimulus and exchange programmes
Projects of offices abroad
Projects resulting from applications
88.1% of the CHF 39.8 million spent by Pro Helvetia in 2017 went directly to culture. Administrative costs (11.9%), calculated on the basis of ZEWO standards, remained clearly below the strategic threshold of 15% prescribed by the Swiss Confederation.
Projects resulting from applications
Projects of offices abroad
Stimulus and exchange programmes
Amounts spent in CHF
Every four years, in the context of the Federal Cultural Policy Statement, Swiss Parliament decides on Pro Helvetia’s framework budget. For the period 2016–2020 (one-off five year period), Pro Helvetia was allocated a total of CHF 210.9 million. Due to budget cuts, the instalment of CHF 40.9 million for 2017 was reduced to CHF 40.1 million.
Overview of applications received
In 2017, Pro Helvetia received 5,020 applications in the fields it supports: visual arts, music, literature and society, theatre, dance and interdisciplinary projects. The latter include projects involving several disciplines or new media and technologies.
Increase in the number of applications
Percentage of applications accepted
The increase in the number of applications is attributable to newly introduced or intensified calls for projects, particularly in the fields of design and interactive media. It is also the result of a change in the administrative procedure regarding the submission of projects, especially in the context of the support for emerging artists in the fields of dance and theatre.
In 2017, and for the third consecutive year, no appeals were filed against Pro Helvetia.
Support granted with due emphasis on diversity
Swiss population by language region
Source: Federal Statistical Office (as at: 2016)
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 2017, Pro Helvetia contributed funds to 1,487 artistic and cultural projects in 214 locations across Switzerland, including peripheral regions such as Leukerbad, Orbe or Mendrisio, towns such as Chur, Solothurn and Neuchâtel, and densely populated urban areas such as Bern, Geneva, Basel and Zurich.
Promotion of Swiss culture around the world
In 2017, Pro Helvetia supported more than 4,000 Swiss artistic and cultural projects in 102 countries, in parallel with its activities in Switzerland.