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Guidelines for Applicants Culture and Society

The Arts Council’s criteria for support as well as information about the procedures for submitting an application and the deadlines are contained in the Guidelines for applicants.

1. General conditions

Status: January 2018

In the field of culture and society, Pro Helvetia promotes projects with a theme-based focus. Support in the form of financial contributions to printing and translating non-fiction (incl. e-books) as well as to theme-based exhibitions, events and innovative cultural formats is granted to cultural projects that foster discourse on topics relevant to Switzerland and that are capable of providing fresh cultural impetus. Projects that contribute to a better understanding between regional, linguistic and cultural communities in Switzerland are also eligible for promotion.

To qualify for support from Pro Helvetia, the project must

  • be clearly connected to Switzerland;
  • be of nationwide importance;
  • be publicly accessible;
  • be adequately co-financed by other public or private sponsors (incl. event organisers).

2. Scope of promotion

2.1 Project grants

2.1.1 Publications

Pro Helvetia supports publishers by means of contributions to the printing costs of non-fiction books by professionally qualified Swiss authors. Support can be applied for in the case of:

  • publications in the fields of cultural anthropology and everyday culture dealing with Swiss topics from a contemporary perspective;
  • publications on Swiss topics in any arts discipline from a contemporary perspective;
  • well-recognised cultural and artistic journals (for specific criteria, please consult the factsheet on magazine promotion).

Factsheet on the promotion of non-fiction book projects

2.1.2 Translations

On request by Swiss or international publishers, Pro Helvetia supports the translation of theme-based works by Swiss authors on socially relevant cultural topics. The topics of works by Swiss authors do not necessarily have to relate to Switzerland.

Factsheet on the promotion of non-fiction book projects

2.1.3 Exhibitions and events on topics of everyday and folk culture in Switzerland

Pro Helvetia supports exhibitions and events dealing with aspects of everyday culture and folk culture in Switzerland as well as their transfer to other linguistic regions in Switzerland and to other countries.

Contributions may be made to:

  • thematic exhibitions and events that give a new cultural stimulus to social themes relevant to Switzerland;
  • projects involving cooperation between local and regional museums in Switzerland;
  • adaptation, transport and insurance costs of exhibitions to be shown in other linguistic regions of Switzerland or abroad.

Pro Helvetia fosters the international exchange of knowledge. Eligible for support are specialists who contribute to the content of public events outside of Switzerland on topics connected with Swiss literature, folk culture or everyday culture. As a rule, the amount of support is measured against the travel expenses. The application is to be submitted by the event organiser.

2.1.4 Book promotion

Pro Helvetia supports the promotion of the Swiss book outside of Switzerland. In addition to its presence at the most important international book fairs (several years of support agreements with the publishers associations), Pro Helvetia makes twice a year a contribution for the international promotion of the Swiss book and its translation. This funding is aimed at professional publishers, publishing groups, associations and event organisers in the book and literature field.

Factsheet on book promotion

3. Exclusions

Pro Helvetia provides no support if:

  • the same part of the project is already supported by other Federal institutions (e.g. Swiss Federal Office of Culture, Presence Switzerland, Swiss National Science Foundation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation);
  • the project is part of a school, college or university curriculum or a training course (incl. research projects, theses, dissertations, diploma projects, scholarship projects, etc.);
  • the support is intended for infrastructure or equipment costs, or for the operational costs of cultural institutions, archives or collections;
  • the project is not dependent on financial support.

Moreover the Culture and Society division cannot accept applications for support in connection with:

  • self-publication of books or publication against payment;
  • printing costs of translations;
  • reprints, books in print or books already published;
  • anthologies, works of reference, specialist books, scholarly publications and events, secondary literature, honorary and anniversary publications, bibliophile editions;
  • adaptations (audio books, publications of talks);
  • presentations by moderators;
  • book launches, promotional tours organised by publishers;
  • archive and library exhibitions;
  • events and exhibitions taking place in the context of schools and universities.

4. Dossier contents

An application to Pro Helvetia must contain the following items:

  • description of the project;
  • place and date of the event(s);
  • information on the authors, translators and curators involved;
  • media clips;
  • budget and finance plan including specification of the contribution requested from Pro Helvetia.

Additional items in the case of publications:

  • complete typescript and publisher’s contract with the author.

Additional items in the case of translations:

  • Licence and translation contracts, as well as a significant part of the proofread translation manuscript and the corresponding original text.

Also required in the case of exhibitions:

  • content concept
  • information on scenography and exhibition narrative

Pro Helvetia accepts applications exclusively via www.myprohelvetia.ch.

5. Application deadlines and time until decision is taken

Applications not subject to a fixed deadline are decided on within eight weeks, those subject to a fixed deadline within four months.

Application typeApplication deadlineBeginning of events / Date of printing
Project grants up to CHF 25‘000 towards events and exhibitions in Switzerland and abroad, publications, translationsongoing, up to 8 weeks before the first event/the date of printing
Project grants of over CHF 25‘000 towards events and exhibitions in Switzerland and abroad, publications, translations1 Septemberfrom 1 January
1 Decemberfrom 1 April
1 Marchfrom 1 July
1 Junefrom 1 October
Book promotion1 Septemberfrom 1 January
1 Marchfrom 1 July

6. Processing of applications

6.1 Pre-assessment

Pro Helvetia decides to process an application only if

  • the project in question fulfils the general criteria for support (cf. section 1);
  • there is no reason for exclusion (cf. section 3);
  • the application is complete and has been submitted on time (cf. sections 4 and 5).

6.2 Qualitative evaluation

Pro Helvetia assesses whether

  • the project fulfils the requirements of high artistic and technical quality;
  • the project is executed in accordance with professional standards;
  • the costs are proportionate to the impact expected;
  • the project is likely to have a long-term Impact.

6.3 Decision-making bodies

  • The decision on requests for up to CHF 25,000 is taken by the specialist division; for applications in the range of CHF 25,000 to CHF 50,000, the decision is taken by Pro Helvetia’s Cultural Promotion department.
  • The decision on applications for more than CHF 50,000 as well as on several years of support agreements is taken by the directorate of Pro Helvetia at the request of the Committee of Experts and after consultation with the Management Board; decisions on applications for over CHF 300,000 must be approved by the Board of Trustees.

6.4 Notification of a decision

A decision is communicated without detailed reasons being given. On receipt of the decision, applicants can demand an official decision statement from Pro Helvetia against which an appeal can be lodged.

6.5 Obligations of recipients of support from Pro Helvetia

A pledge of support by Pro Helvetia places certain obligations on the applicants. If the applicants do not fulfil these obligations, Pro Helvetia is entitled to reduce the amount of support accordingly or demand a refund of support payments already made.

Factsheet for grant recipients

6.6 Disbursement

Pro Helvetia makes the support payments only after a final report, including the accounts, has been examined. Advance payments are possible on request. Unless the applicants notify Pro Helvetia of any delays, funding expires at the latest one year after the project’s closing date specified in the application dossier. If no closing date has been specified, Pro Helvetia sets deadlines itself.

6.7 Appeals

Decision statements from Pro Helvetia can be appealed within 30 days of the date of receipt. The appeals must be lodged with the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht). An appeal must include the original application as well as the reasons for the appeal, including appropriate evidence, and must be signed by the appellant. The decision statement being appealed against needs to be enclosed as evidence. Appellants bear the costs of this procedure.

Appeals are to be submitted to:
CH-9023 St. Gallen

7. Purpose of the guidelines and legal basis

The guidelines explain what is needed to submit a complete application for support from Pro Helvetia for an artistic or a cultural project, what the criteria for the evaluation of an application are, what deadlines and procedures apply, and what legal steps can be taken. The guidelines supplement the Grant Ordinance (Verordnung über Beiträge der Stiftung Pro Helvetia) adopted by Pro Helvetia’s Board of Trustees on 23 November 2011 as well as the Arts and Culture Promotion Act (Kulturförderungsgesetz) of 11 December 2009 and the Arts and Culture Promotion Ordinance (Kulturförderungsverordnung) of 23 November 2011. These legal documents can be accessed (in German, French and Italian) on Pro Helvetia’s website at


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Angelika Salvisberg
Head Literature and Society


Manuel Kaufmann
Culture and society / Thematic publications and events