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Guidelines for Applicants Theatre

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

Pro Helvetia promotes Swiss theatre, with a focus on diversity as well as on national and international appeal. It supports the creation of theatre productions, the dissemination of Swiss theatre abroad, cultural exchange within Switzerland and audience outreach of theatre. As a national institution, Pro Helvetia supplements the promotional activities of Swiss cantons and municipalities and supports only projects that are cross-nationally or internationally recognised.

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 Work grants

Pro Helvetia supports the creation of new theatre and music theatre productions with contributions to:

  • productions by independent theatre groups from Switzerland and co-productions by Swiss and foreign theatre groups. A production is eligible for support only if at least ten performance dates have been confirmed at two different transregionally renowned venues in Switzerland. Revivals of productions are eligible for support if the production involved is particularly significant, if at least ten performances have been confirmed, and at least four years have passed since the same production was last staged;
  • productions by independent music theatre ensembles from Switzerland and co-productions by Swiss and foreign ensembles. A condition for support is that several performance dates at at least two transregionally recognised venues have been confirmed, and that at least one of these venues is in Switzerland.

Pro Helvetia supports writers of plays via work grants provided by the Literature division (cf. Guidelines Literature) or in connection with author promotion programmes. The latter are advertised on the Pro Helvetia website and in the specialist media.

2.2 Project contributions

2.2.1 Guest performances in Switzerland

Pro Helvetia supports guest performances by independent theatre groups and by theatre institutions at nationally recognised venues and festivals in a linguistic region of Switzerland other than the group’s or institution’s own.

The Artists – Theatre – Organisers Association of Switzerland (ktv) provides support for domestic tours in the area of cabaret and variety shows (Kleinkunst) on behalf of Pro Helvetia: www.ktv.ch.

2.2.2 Guest performances abroad

Pro Helvetia supports guest performances by independent theatre groups and by theatre institutions at internationally recognised venues and festivals providing appropriate financial conditions. Tours comprising several performances and cities are prioritised. As a rule, the amount of support provided is measured against the travel and transport expenses involved. To raise the international competitiveness of independent dance and theatre groups, Pro Helvetia can grant an additional contribution for diffusion work in connection with tours in Europe.

In the case of productions performed by theatre groups with a transregional impact at a renowned venue, festival or platform abroad or in a linguistic region in Switzerland other than their own, Pro Helvetia can also support the translation/surtitling.

Further information on the support of translations

2.2.3 Viewing trips

Pro Helvetia assumes the hotel expenses of programme and event organisers coming from other linguistic regions in Switzerland or from abroad to view productions by independent Swiss theatre groups.

2.2.4 Travel grants

Pro Helvetia supports touring managers of independent dance and theatre groups in their international networking at important festivals and other relevant events outside Switzerland by means of travel grants. To be eligible for such grants, the groups represented must receive regular support from Pro Helvetia. Touring managers of groups with a Cooperative funding agreement are not eligible. The amount of support provided is measured against the travel and accommodation costs.

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

2.2.5 Folk theatre

Pro Helvetia supports folk theatre projects in Switzerland which stand out through a high relevance of content and artistic realisation and which address a cross-regional audience.

Factsheet support for folk theatre projects

2.2.6 Arts and audience projects

Pro Helvetia supports arts and audience projects in Switzerland that engage audiences in personal encounters with professional artistic creation and thereby heighten their awareness of artistic works and presentations. Projects can be considered for promotion if they contain an innovative approach to outreach and education in practice and therefore are of nationwide exemplary nature or if they focus on more than one linguistic region in Switzerland.

Factsheet on the promotion of arts and audience outreach

2.2.7 Residencies

Pro Helvetia supports studio and research residencies of Swiss theatre practitioners in China, India (or other south Asian countries), Russia, Egypt (or other Arab countries) and Southern Africa.

Guidelines Residencies

2.2.8 Publications and translations

Pro Helvetia supports the publication of work by professionally qualified Swiss authors dealing with Swiss topics of Swiss theatre production from a contemporary perspective.

Pro Helvetia also supports the translation of theme-based publications dealing with topics of Swiss theatre production from a contemporary perspective. The authors do not necessarily have to be Swiss.

In the case of productions performed by theatre groups with a transregional impact at a renowned venue, festival or platform abroad or in a linguistic region in Switzerland other than their own, Pro Helvetia can also support the translation/surtitling.

Factsheet on the promotion of non-fiction book projects

2.3 Promotion of aspiring artists

Pro Helvetia supports aspiring artists primarily in collaboration with recognised institutions in Switzerland and abroad (production sites, festivals, art colleges, etc.). The promotion is aimed at theatre artists with outstanding potential and prospects of a national or an international career. Aspiring theatre artists are supported during the first five years of their professional artistic career either after they have obtained their artistic degree or following the first public presentation of their work. The upper age limit for support is 35. Only projects that are conducive to establishing the artist in a professional environment at national and international level are eligible for support.

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 Theatre division cannot accept applications for support in connection with:

  • engagements of individual artists for productions abroad;
  • scenic readings;
  • theatre sports projects;
  • cabaret, comedy, mime and clown productions; except in the case of significant tours abroad.

4. Dossier contents

An application to Pro Helvetia must contain the following items:

  • description of the project;
  • places and dates of the events and confirmation from the venues;
  • information on the theatre group or the theatre institution and all key persons involved in the project;
  • media clips and video documentation;
  • detailed budget and finance plan including specification of the contribution requested from Pro Helvetia.

Also required in the case of productions and co-productions:

  • staging concept;
  • text of the play (if available).

Also required in the case of translations:

  • cost estimate for the translation

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 the events
Work grants (Productions and co-productions)1 Septemberfrom January to June
1 Marchfrom July to December
Project grants up to CHF 25‘000 towards events in Switzerland and abroadongoing, up to 8 weeks before the first event
Project grants of over CHF 25‘000 towards events in Switzerland and abroad
1 Septemberfrom 1 January
1 Decemberfrom 1 April
1 Marchfrom 1 July
1 Junefrom 1 October

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

  • Work grants: The decision on applications is taken by the directorate of Pro Helvetia on recommendation of a jury.
  • Project contributions: The decision on requests for up to CHF 25,000 is taken by the specialist division; for requests 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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Felizitas Ammann
Head Theatre ad interim


Larissa Bizer


Thibault Genton


Anne Maurer