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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 2021

1. General Requirements

Pro Helvetia promotes professional, contemporary and future-oriented transdisciplinary work from Switzerland with a view to ensuring its diversity as well as its national and international reach. It supports the emergence of new transdisciplinary projects, the dissemination of Swiss artistic and cultural creation outside Switzerland as well as cultural exchange within Switzerland and worldwide. Transdisciplinarity is a cornerstone of innovation. Pro Helvetia defines transdisciplinarity as cooperation between persons from at least three disciplines (of which at least one must be outside the arts). At the same time, Pro Helvetia adopts various measures to promote greater diversity and equal opportunities in the cultural sector. As a national foundation, Pro Helvetia only supports projects of cross-regional or international significance 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

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 professional 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 funding for transdisciplinary projects

Pro Helvetia awards research and production funding for the creation of transdisciplinary projects. Funding is intended to enable Swiss artists and cultural practitioners to work on an emerging artistic project. As a rule, projects must involve persons from at least three disciplines (of which at least one must be outside the arts). Applicants must also demonstrate proven and nationally recognised artistic practice. Applications for projects for which other funding measures exist within the divisions of Pro Helvetia (e.g. music theatre, performance art, sound art, radiophonic art) must be submitted to the respective division.

Application deadlines: 1.3. and 1.9.; the first public performance, release or presentation may begin no sooner than four months after the application deadline (Jury)

2.1.2 Calls for applications

i. Calls for applications: thematic calls

Pro Helvetia launches thematic calls for applications that respond to current social developments and to support corresponding artistic debate. 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.

Calls for applications and the application deadlines are announced on the Pro Helvetia website

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.

Calls for applications and the application deadlines are announced on the Pro Helvetia website

2.1.3 Residencies

i. 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, India, Chile and Brazil. Residencies are aimed at artists and cultural practitioners from all disciplines promoted by Pro Helvetia. Submissions must meet the criteria and deadlines of the respective call. Applications must be submitted via the CERN website.

Calls for applications and the application deadlines are announced on the websites of Pro Helvetia and CERN

ii. Residencies and research trips

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.

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 national 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). Submissions must meet the criteria and deadlines of the respective call. Individual projects in the field of art and audience outreach are not eligible for support.

Calls for applications and the application deadlines are announced on the Pro Helvetia website

2.2.2 Releases in the field of diversity and equal opportunities

Pro Helvetia supports releases (e.g. guidelines, recommendations for action and publications) for Swiss cultural institutions and organisations that make a relevant contribution to the development of diversity practices. Support is available for releases that provide cultural institutions and organisations with useful and practice-oriented tools in order to actively address diversity and equal opportunities. The format may be analogue, digital or hybrid. To qualify for funding, applicants must demonstrate proven diversity competence. Funded releases must generate knowledge and insights in terms of content or methodology, have a pioneering character and thus enable transfer to cultural practice. To be eligible for support, releases must be of national significance and not only address a specialist audience. No funding is available for specialist books, purely scientific releases, activity reports and annual reports.

Application deadlines: see Section 5.

2.2.3 Events

i. Events at the intersection of art, science and technology

Pro Helvetia supports collaborative events (e.g. discussion series, workshops, networking events and systematic networking formats) within and outside Switzerland that fosters networks between actors from arts, science and technology. In Switzerland, collaborative events will be supported provided they present projects by persons of national interest. Outside Switzerland, collaborative events will be supported provided they present Swiss projects. The format may be analogue, digital or hybrid. To qualify for funding, applicants must demonstrate appropriate professional aptitude. Funded events must generate knowledge and insights in terms of content or methodology and must have a pioneering character. To qualify for support, events must be of national significance and not only address a specialist audience.

Application deadlines: see Section 5.

ii. Diversity and equal opportunities events

Pro Helvetia supports events (e.g. discussion series, workshops, networking events and mentoring programmes) in Switzerland that promote equal opportunities for Swiss artists and cultural practitioners from marginalised social groups in the cultural sector. The format may be analogue, digital or hybrid. To qualify for funding, applicants must demonstrate proven diversity competence. Funded events must generate knowledge and insights in terms of content or methodology, have a pioneering character and thus enable transfer to cultural practice. To qualify for support, events must be of national significance and not only address a specialist audience.

Application deadlines: see Section 5.

iii. Transdisciplinary events

Pro Helvetia supports transdisciplinary events (including festivals) that promote cooperation between persons from at least three disciplines (of which at least one must be outside the arts) within and outside Switzerland. In Switzerland, transdisciplinary events are supported provided they present projects of national interest. Outside Switzerland, transdisciplinary events will be supported provided they present Swiss projects. The format may be analogue, digital or hybrid. To qualify for funding, applicants must demonstrate appropriate professional aptitude. Funded events must generate knowledge and insights in terms of content or methodology, have a pioneering character and thus enable transfer to other transdisciplinary events. To qualify for support, events must be of national significance and not only address a specialist audience. 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.IV.

Application deadlines: see Section 5.

iv. 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, as well as being committed to gender equality and diversity. 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.

Factsheet for Support Recipients: see 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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