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Guidelines for Applicants: Innovation & Society

These guidelines set out the procedure for submitting a funding application in the area of innovation and society to the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia. They also explain the assessment criteria, procedures, deadlines and appeals process. These guidelines supplement the Grant Ordinance of 27 November 2019 of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, as well as the Federal Act of 11 December 2009 on Culture Promotion and the Ordinance of 23 November 2011 on Culture Promotion.

Status: January 2022

1. General Requirements

Pro Helvetia promotes the production and dissemination of transdisciplinary projects from Switzerland with a view to diversity as well as national and international reach. Such projects are also meant to enhance transdisciplinary knowledge exchange and to provide society with creative stimulus and access to critical thinking. At the same time, Pro Helvetia adopts various measures to promote greater diversity and equal opportunities in the cultural sector, is committed to raising the visibility of marginalised groups, and aims to provide sustainable support and guidance to initiatives and organisations in this field in Switzerland. As a national foundation, Pro Helvetia supports international cultural exchange and exchange between Switzerland’s various linguistic regions, and supplements the promotional activities of Switzerland’s cantons and cities.

To be eligible for funding, projects must

  • have a clear connection to Switzerland
  • be of nationwide importance
  • be adequately co-funded by other public or private sponsors (including publishers/event organisers)

2. Funding Measures

Applications may be submitted by artists and cultural practitioners or event organisers. The formats for which applications can be submitted are explained in the sections below (2.1. for artists and cultural practitioners, 2.2. for event organisers).

2.1 Artists and cultural practitioners

Pro Helvetia defines artists and cultural practitioners as both natural and legal persons who are actively involved in the arts. Such persons include individual artists, collectives and independent groups.

The following funding instruments are aimed at artists and cultural practitioners who have Swiss citizenship or permanent residence in Switzerland and who are present on the Swiss art and cultural scene.

2.1.1 Research and production grants for transdisciplinary projects

Pro Helvetia supports the creation of experimental transdisciplinary projects. Funding can be granted for both research and production. Projects are understood to be transdisciplinary if several disciplines are linked in a novel way. As a rule, projects must involve persons from at least three disciplines (of which at least one must be outside the arts). The focus is on knowledge exchange and active collaboration between artists and cultural practitioners on the one hand and representatives of social or scientific fields (politics, ethnology, ecology, psychology, medicine, etc.) on the other. Applications for projects for which other funding measures exist within the divisions of Pro Helvetia (e.g. monodisciplinary projects, music theatre, performance art, sound art, radiophonic art) must be submitted to the primarily responsible division.

More information: Transdisciplinarity

Application deadlines: 1 March and 1 September; the first public performance, release or presentation may begin no sooner than four months after the application deadline. These applications are evaluated by a jury.

Decision timeline: within four months of the application deadline.

Submission in accordance with call for applications: Transdisciplinary research and production grants (jury).

2.1.2 Calls for applications

i. Calls for applications «Critical reflection»

Each year up to 2024, Pro Helvetia is launching a theme-based call for projects that are intended to stimulate opinion forming and critical discussions on the role of art and culture in society. Eligible for support are exemplary, multidisciplinary projects that seek new forms of critical reflection on contemporary art production and art criticism, and that appeal to different types of audiences.

Application deadlines: 1 March; the first public performance, release or presentation may begin no sooner than four months after the application deadline. These applications are evaluated by a jury.

Decision timeline: within four months of the application deadline.

Submission in accordance with call for applications: Multiply Perspectives (jury).

ii. Calls for applications «Arts, science and technology»

Pro Helvetia launches recurring calls for applications at the intersection of art, science and technology in cooperation with scientific partner institutions, in order to enable artists and cultural practitioners to explore scientific and technological concepts in their artistic work. Calls are aimed at artists and cultural practitioners from all disciplines that are promoted by Pro Helvetia. Submissions must meet the criteria and deadlines of the respective call.

More information: Arts, Science and Technology

Application deadlines: PolARTS: 31 January, NanoARTS: 31 May. These applications are evaluated by a jury.

Decision timeline: within four months of the application deadline (PolARTS: 31 January; NanoARTS: 31 May).

Submission in accordance with call for applications: PolARTS (jury) and call for applications: NanoARTS (jury).

2.1.3 Residencies and research trips

i. Countries and regions covered by the six liaison offices

Pro Helvetia supports residencies and research trips by Swiss artists and cultural practitioners whose work has a transdisciplinary focus to the countries covered by its six liaison offices as well as to other selected regions (Arab region, China, Russia, South America, South Asia, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa). Pro Helvetia also supports residencies and research trips to Switzerland by artists and cultural practitioners from specific countries whose work has a transdisciplinary focus.

See Residencies and Research Trips for possible destinations for Swiss artists and cultural practitioners whose work has a transdisciplinary focus, as well as for the countries of origin of foreign artists and cultural practitioners whose work has a transdisciplinary focus.

ii. «Arts, science and technology» residencies

Pro Helvetia supports residencies at the intersection of art, science and technology in cooperation with CERN in Geneva, South Africa and Chile. Residencies are aimed at artists and cultural practitioners from all disciplines promoted by Pro Helvetia.

Application deadlines: Connect: from approx. September. These applications are evaluated by a jury.

Decision timeline: within four months of the application deadline.

Submission in accordance with call for applications: Connect (jury). Applications must be submitted via CERN.

2.2 Event Organisers

Pro Helvetia supports the projects of cultural institutions and organisations with a multi-annual national and/or international programme and with a cross-regional reach.

2.2.1 Calls for applications: diversity and equal opportunities

Pro Helvetia launches calls for applications in order to increase diversity and equal opportunities within cultural institutions and organisations. Eligible for submission are publicly funded Swiss cultural institutions and organisations with a long-term strategy for changing their structures (staff, programme, audiences).

More information: Diversity and Equality in the Cultural Sector

Application deadline: Tandem Diversity: 15 April. The applications for Tandem Diversity are evaluated by a jury.

Decision timeline: within one month of the application deadline

Submission in accordance with call for applications: Diversity Tandem (jury).

2.2.2 Knowledge transfer and networking in the field of diversity and equal opportunities

i. Guidelines, tools and knowledge transfer formats for «Diversity and equal opportunities»

Pro Helvetia supports the development of guidelines and tools for Swiss cultural institutions and organisations that make a relevant contribution to the development of diversity practices. Support is available in particular for participatory or process-oriented projects that provide cultural institutions and organisations with useful and practice-oriented tools in order to actively address diversity and equal opportunities. Within this context, support may also be granted to formats (e.g. discussion series, workshops, etc.) that take a deeper look at diversity issues and convey diversity practices to the cultural sector. The formats may be analog, digital or hybrid. To be eligible for funding, project participants must demonstrate proven diversity competence and the project must be of an exemplary nature for the cultural sector.

Application deadlines: see Section 5.

2.2.3 Networking, knowledge transfer and events with a transdisciplinary aspect

i. Networking and knowledge transfer of «Art, science and technology»

Pro Helvetia supports dialogue formats (e.g. discussion series, workshops, networking events) in Switzerland and abroad that originate from a joint initiative among artists on the one hand and representatives from the fields of science and technology on the other, and that strengthen links between the two. To be eligible for support, formats must involve persons from the arts, science and technology and ensure that they all participate as equals. The format may be analog, digital or hybrid.

Application deadlines: see Section 5.

ii. Events and festivals transdisciplinarity

Pro Helvetia supports transdisciplinary events and festivals in Switzerland and abroad. Events and festivals are understood to be transdisciplinary if several disciplines are linked in a novel way. As a rule, projects must involve persons from at least three disciplines (of which at least one must be outside the arts). The focus is on knowledge exchange and active collaboration between artists and cultural practitioners on the one hand and representatives of social or scientific fields (politics, ethnology, ecology, psychology, medicine, etc.) on the other. Funding requests for discipline-specific events must be submitted to the responsible division of Pro Helvetia, while submissions for events that combine artistic disciplines must meet the requirements set out in Section 2.2.3.III EVENTS COMBINING ARTISTIC DISCIPLINES.

Application deadlines: see Section 5.

iii. Events combining artistic disciplines

This category refers to events or festivals that present productions from various artistic disciplines. As a rule, productions from at least three disciplines must be envisaged. Otherwise, applications must be submitted to the division primarily responsible for the event. Events combining different artistic disciplines are assessed according to the same criteria regarding form and content that apply to discipline-specific events. Particular importance is given to the criteria of the disciplines of which the productions are part of. Events combining artistic disciplines are supported in and outside Switzerland. In Switzerland, they are supported provided they present productions from Switzerland’s other language regions. Outside Switzerland, support is given to these events that present Swiss productions.

Application deadlines: see Section 5.

3. Restrictions

Pro Helvetia is unable to consider funding requests if

  • the same part of the submitted project is already receiving funding from other federal bodies (e.g. Federal Office of Culture, Presence Switzerland, Swiss National Science Foundation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation);
  • the project is part of a school or university curriculum/basic training or continuing education programme (including dissertations, diploma projects, university scholarships, etc.);
  • funding is intended to cover infrastructure and equipment costs, as well as the costs of operating cultural facilities, archives and collections;
  • the project does not depend on funding from Pro Helvetia.

4. Application Dossier

Funding applications submitted to Pro Helvetia must contain:

  • Details on the persons involved in the project
  • Project description in conceptual and organisational terms
  • Place and date of public performance, release or presentation
  • Detailed cost and financing plan including information on all financial assistance requested from third parties
  • Details on the amount requested from Pro Helvetia and cost justification
  • In the case of exclusively virtual projects, evidence of a convincing national or international online dissemination strategy must be provided

Applications must be submitted via www.myprohelvetia.ch

5. Application Deadlines and Decision Timelines

Unless otherwise stated (see Section 2), the following application deadlines apply:

Application typeApplication deadlineDecision timeline
Funding requests up to CHF 25,000ongoing, up to eight weeks prior to the event/publicationwithin eight weeks
Funding requests between CHF 25,001 and 50,000ongoing, at the latest four months prior to the event/publicationwithin four months
Funding requests over CHF 50'0001 September, at the latest four months prior to the event/publicationwithin four months
1 December, at the latest four months prior to the event/publicationwithin four months
1 March, at the latest four months prior to the event/publicationwithin four months
1 June, at the latest four months prior to the event/publicationwithin four months

6. Application Processing

6.1 Preliminary assessment

Pro Helvetia will only consider funding applications if

  • the submitted project meets the general funding requirements (see Section 1);
  • there is no valid reason for exclusion (see Section 3);
  • the application dossier is complete and has been submitted on time (see Sections 4 and 5).

6.2 Assessment of content and quality

Within the scope of its available funds, Pro Helvetia prioritises projects that most comprehensively meet the criteria for support.

Pro Helvetia establishes whether

  • the project corresponds to the funding activities described in Section 2
  • the project demonstrates high artistic and professional quality
  • the project is implemented according to professional standards
  • the costs are commensurate with the expected impact
  • a lasting impact can be expected

Pro Helvetia prioritises support projects in the field of contemporary art and culture according to their degree of originality and professional competence as well as their social and thematic relevance.

In assessing applications, Pro Helvetia attaches great importance to applicants using resources in an ecologically responsible manner. Pro Helvetia may assume related additional costs (e.g. CO2 compensation for flights). Such costs must be contained in the budget.

Pro Helvetia also expects event organisers to be committed to gender equality, diversity and equal opportunities. In addition, Pro Helvetia expects the involved artists to receive commensurate fees.

The Innovation & Society Sector also assesses whether projects:

  • demonstrate innovative originality, i.e. introduce and implement new methods. Priority is given to projects that dare to experiment (i.e. new formats, collaborations or productions);
  • provide fresh impetus for the arts and culture sector, so as to stimulate debate at the intersection of artistic and social issues. Key prerequisites are the attitude adopted towards and the level of reflection on such issues;
  • actively promote greater diversity and equal opportunities in the cultural sector and provide structural access for marginalised social groups;
  • have a pioneering transdisciplinary character and future-oriented social relevance and therefore cannot fall back on established funding.

6.3 Decision-making bodies

Applications which are reviewed by a jury: The decision on applications is taken by the director of Pro Helvetia on recommendation of a jury. The following regulations apply to all other  applications:

  • Applications up to CHF 50,000: Decisions are taken by the Innovation & Society Sector
  • Applications over CHF 50,000: Decisions are taken by the director of Pro    Helvetia at the request of the committee of experts

In the case of multi-annual performance agreements, the amount of funding requested per year is decisive.

6.4 Decision notification

Funding decisions are communicated without a statement of reasons. 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

The awarding of funding entails obligations for recipients. Pro Helvetia reserves the right to reduce the amount of funding or to demand that disbursed grants be restituted if recipients fail to meet their obligations. See Factsheet «Requirements for support recipients» (blue box above).

6.6 Disbursement

Pro Helvetia disburses funding only after examining the final report, which must include a statement of account. Advance payments are possible on request. Unless applicants notify Pro Helvetia of any delays, funding shall expire at the latest 6 months after the project’s closing date as per the application dossier.

6.7 Appeals

Funding decisions taken by Pro Helvetia may be appealed within 30 days of receipt. Appeals must be filed with the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht). Appeals must include the original application, as well as the grounds of the appeal and 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 must be submitted to: Bundesverwaltungsgericht, Postfach, CH-9023 St. Gallen


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