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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 2023

1. General requirements

Pro Helvetia promotes the production and dissemination of contemporary Swiss arts and culture projects with a view to diversity as well as national and international reach. Such projects are also meant to enhance knowledge exchange across artistic and non-artistic fields and to provide society with creative stimulus and access to critical thinking. At the same time, Pro Helvetia adopts various measures to promote greater ecological and social sustainability in the cultural sector. As a national foundation, Pro Helvetia supports only projects of cross-regional and/or international significance, and supplements the promotional activities of Switzerland’s cantons and municipalities.

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 means

2. Funding measures

Applications may be submitted by artists and cultural practitioners or event organising institutions. 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 organising institutions).

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 regularly present on the Swiss art and cultural scene.

2.1.1 Projects in collaboration with non-artistic fields

i. Tandems between arts practitioners and persons from non-artistic fields

Pro Helvetia supports tandems made up of arts practitioners and persons from non-artistic fields. Eligible are tandems who meet regularly over a period of 3 up to 12 months and maintain an exchange on theme-based topics and as part of an artistic process.

Composition of the application dossier

  • Description of the planned tandem, to be submitted as joint application (incl. motivation and outline of the potential of the collaboration), realisation plan, budget and financing plan (incl. information on all requests for financial support from third parties) in a single PDF document
  • Information on the persons involved (CVs, portfolios, etc.) und a signed letter of intent in a single PDF document

Contributions

A tandem grant is limited to a maximum of CHF 10,000 and can cover fees and administrative costs. Not eligible for support are tandems in which one person has an advisory role only or where the focus is primarily on coaching for artistic practitioners. Nor does Pro Helvetia make contributions towards infrastructure, equipment, operational or maintenance costs, or for the production of a work of art as a result of the tandem collaboration. Applications for follow-on artistic projects (i.e. after conclusion of the tandem project) may be submitted to Pro Helvetia as a regular grant application.

Application deadlines: see Section 5.

ii. Research grants and production grants for artistic projects

Pro Helvetia supports artistic projects that deal with current social issues and/or approach them with new methods. The focus is on active cooperation between arts practitioners and persons from various social or academic fields (e.g. ecology, technology, politics, anthropology, etc.). Funding can be granted for both conceptual research and production of an artistic project. Preconditions are topicality and social relevance of the content and a process-oriented approach involving two or more persons from different artistic and non-artistic fields. Eligible are Swiss arts practitioners from all disciplines supported by Pro Helvetia.

Composition of application dossier

  • Description of the planned artistic project in terms of concept and organisation, realisation plan, budget and financing plan (incl. information on all requests for financial support from third parties) in a single PDF document
  • Information on the persons involved (CV, incl. description of tasks and role in the project)

Contributions

One-off project grants of CHF 25,000 at most are awarded for conceptional research or for the production process of an artistic project. The amount granted by Pro Helvetia may not exceed 50% of the overall budget. No contributions are paid towards infrastructure, equipment, operational and maintenance costs.

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

Decision timeline: within four months of the application deadline.

iii. 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 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 deadline: 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: Expanding Perspectives (jury).

2.1.2 Residencies and research trips

i. Residencies (duration of up to three months)

Pro Helvetia supports residencies by arts and culture practitioners with a focus on collaboration between artistic and non-artistic fields, to and from the countries covered by its six liaison offices(Arab region, China, Russia, South America, South Asia, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa). Eligible are cultural practitioners from Switzerland and from the regions covered by the liaison offices.

More information: Residencies

ii. Research trips (duration of up to four weeks)

Swiss design cultural practitioners may apply for research trips all over the world. Cultural practitioners from the regions covered by the liaison offices may apply for research trips to Switzerland.

More information: Research trips

iii. Co-creation

With a pilot measure, Pro Helvetia supports co-creation projects between artists and cultural practitioners from Switzerland and from the regions covered by its liaison offices (Arab region, China, Russia, South America, South Asia, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, and Southern Africa).

The co-creation grant is aimed at tandems who want to develop project ideas further, building on exchanges from previous residencies, research trips or other experience of collaboration. Applications for co-creation grants can be submitted on an ongoing basis via myprohelvtia.ch.

More information: Co-creation Support

iv. «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 from all disciplines promoted by Pro Helvetia.

Application deadlines: Calls for applications and deadlines for these residencies are published regularly on our website.The applications are evaluated by a jury. Applications must be submitted via CERN.

Decision timeline: within four months of the application deadline.

2.2 Event organising institutions and organisations

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

i. Call for applications «Synergies»

Pro Helvetia launches a theme-based call for applications to foster cooperation between institutions and organisations at the interface of arts, science and technology. Support goes to projects lasting 1 to 2 years and involving national and international cultural institutions and organisations.

More information: Synergies

Application deadline: the call for applications is open from 1 March to 2 October. The first public performance, publication or presentation may take place at the earliest four months after the deadline of 2 October. The applications are evaluated by a jury.

Decision timeline: within four months of the application deadline (2 October).

2.2.2 Coaching and networking

i. «Diversity tandem» coaching

Pro Helvetia accompanies and supports processes intending 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 deadlines: Call for applications for «DIVERSITY TANDEM» workshop: 3 April. Applications for support in diversity processes may be submitted on an ongoing basis (for deadlines see Section 5.). Participation in the «DIVERSITY TANDEM» workshop is a precondition for such an application.

2.2.3 Networking and knowledge transfer

i. Tools and knowledge transfer formats for «Diversity and equal opportunities»

Pro Helvetia supports the development of tools (e.g. guidelines, checklists) 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 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) that take a deeper look at diversity issues. The formats may be analogue, 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.

ii. Tools and knowledge transfer formats for «Ecological sustainability»

Pro Helvetia supports the development of tools (e.g. guidelines, checklists) for Swiss cultural institutions and organisations that make a relevant contribution to the development of practices of ecological sustainability. Support is available in particular for projects offering practice-oriented tools to the cultural sector that raise the ecological sustainability in a cultural institutions and organisation’s operations or test new working methods. Also eligible for support are formats (e.g. workshops, counselling for arts practitioners or networking meetings) that deal with the topic of ecological sustainability. The formats can be analog, digital or hybrid. Projects or formats selected are characterised by the participants’ proven competence in ecological sustainability and the project must be of an exemplary nature for the cultural sector.

Application deadlines: see Section 5.

iii. Events «Art, science and technology»

Pro Helvetia supports events (e.g. discussion series, workshops, festivals) in Switzerland and abroad that focus on knowledge transfer and on connecting Swiss arts practitioners with representatives from the worlds of science and technology. The event format may be analog, digital or hybrid.

Application deadlines: see Section 5.

iv. Theme-based events

Pro Helvetia supports theme-based cultural events (e.g. discussion series, workshops, festivals) in Switzerland that potentially have a stimulating impact on the arts and culture scene. The events’ content must be topical and socially relevant and must involve participants from different artistic and non-artistic fields. Moreover, the events may not be aimed at a specialist audience. The format may be analog, digital or hybrid.

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. Composition of 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.

Pro Helvetia expects the remuneration of the participating artists to be in line with the recommendations of their professional associations.

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. journeys by train, CO2 compensation for flights). Such costs must be contained in the budget.

Pro Helvetia also expects event organising institutions and organisations to be committed to gender equality, diversity and equal opportunities.

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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