Our Offices & Partners Abroad

Three of our liaison offices celebrate anniversaries.
To the festivities

Annual report 2017

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

February

Russia

Opening of the liaison office in Moscow

May

Berlin and London

New promotional structures in Berlin and London

June

Switzerland

First calls for interactive media and design projects

October

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia

Inauguration of «COINCIDENDIA – Swiss & South American Cultural Exchanges»

October

Germany

Swiss literature at the Frankfurt Book Fair «Francfort en français»

November
Philippe Bischof

Switzerland

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.

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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.

Directors’ report
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.

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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.

Selection

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: 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.

Selection

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: Enabling Swiss participations 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 its 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 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

  • Cultural information
  • 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 24.5 million
Projects of offices abroad 5.8 million
Stimulus and exchange programmes 3.6 million
Cultural information 0.4 million
Administration 4.6 million
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

  • Applications received
  • Applications accepted
  • 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.

Supported Projects

Organisational Chart

Annual report 2017 Print Download PDF
Organisation (As at 31 December 2017) Download PDF

Annual Report Archives 2016

The annual report has been produced in English since 2016. For previous years and for annual accounts, please consult the German, French or Italian pages.