Guidelines for Applicants: Literature
Important information for applicants
- Factsheet «Requirements for support recipients»
- Information sheet social security for cultural practitioners
- Legal regulations
- Logo Pro Helvetia
- 1. General Requirements
- 2. Funding Measures
- 2.1 Literary professionals (authors and translators)
- 2.1.1 Productions
- i. Literary creation grants
- ii. Comic creation grants
- iii. Research grants for literature
- iv. Literary translation grants
- v. Grants to translators for the creation of a promotional dossier
- 2.1.2 Emerging artists projects
- 2.1.3 Residencies and research trips
- i. Residencies (duration of up to six months)
- ii. Research trips (duration of up to four weeks)
- iii. Co-creation
- iv. Art, science and technology
- v. Writing in residency
- 2.1.4 Critical reflection
- 2.2 Event organising institutions
- 2.2.1 Events in Switzerland
- 2.2.2 National and international mobility
- i. Mobility of authors and translators
- ii. Mobility of literature and comics exhibitions
- 2.2.3 Emerging artist projects
- 2.2.4 International promotion
- 2.2.5 Surtitling
- 2.2.6 Publications and other contextualising formats
- 2.2.7 Events combining artistic disciplines
- 2.3 Publishers
- 2.3.1 Translations
- i. Literary translations
- ii. Mentorship for young Swiss translators
- iii. Sample translations
- 2.3.2 International promotion
- 2.3.3 Promotion projects of publishers from Italian-speaking Switzerland
- 2.3.4 International presence of Swiss authors
- 2.3.5 Publications
- i. Publications and other contextualising formats
- ii. Magazines
- 3. Restrictions
- 4. Application Dossier
- 5. Application Deadlines and Decision Timelines
- 6. Application Processing
- 6.1 Preliminary assessment
- 6.2 Assessment of content and quality
- 6.3 Decision-making bodies
- 6.4 Decision notification
- 6.5 Obligations of recipients
- 6.6 Disbursement
- 6.7 Appeals
- Having questions regarding the application process or our scope of promotion?
These guidelines set out the procedure for submitting a funding application in the field of literature 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 professional contemporary Swiss literary creation with a view to ensuring its diversity as well as its national and international reach. Not eligible in this context are non-fiction books, except those mentioned in Section 2.2.6. Pro Helvetia supports the creation of new literary works and their translation, the dissemination of Swiss literature outside Switzerland, international cultural exchange and exchange between Switzerland’s various linguistic regions. 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 support, 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 literary professionals, event organising institutions or publishers. The formats for which applications can be submitted are explained in the sections below (2.1. for literary professionals, 2.2. for event organising institutions, 2.3 for publishers).
2.1 Literary professionals (authors and translators)
Pro Helvetia defines literary professionals as both natural and legal persons who are active as creators of works and/or as performers in the fields of fiction, poetry, playwriting, children’s and young adult literature, literary translation, spoken word, comics or illustration.
The following funding instruments are aimed at professional writers who are either Swiss citizens or permanent residents of Switzerland and actively involved in the Swiss literary scene. To qualify for funding, applicants must have published at least one literary work with a professional publisher or in a digital medium with editorial supervision. Playwrights must have published a work with a professional publisher or provide evidence of a world premiere at a recognised performance venue. Applicants in the spoken word field must provide evidence of previous performances in a professional setting. Applicants in the comics field must have published at least one comic strip in a recognized publishing house or in an editorially supervised digital medium or equivalence in magazines. Support measures aimed at emerging artists and the criteria applicable are outlined in Section 2.1.2.
i. Literary creation grants
Literary creation grants aim to support authors and writing collectives in their work on an emerging project (including children’s and youth literature, drama and spoken word). Literary projects in all languages are eligible. Projects must be completed no sooner than nine months and no later than three years after the application deadline. Performance projects must be realised at the earliest six months after the application deadline and at the latest two years after this deadline.
Recipients of literary creation grants may only re-apply for funding after completing the project. Rejected projects may not be resubmitted.
In addition to the biographical information, application dossiers must contain the following anonymised documents: project description and 20 pages of the planned text; applications for poetry projects must include fifteen poems; for illustrated texts, four to eight panels and a meaningful textual excerpt; for spoken word projects, five pages plus sound and visual material.
Literary creation grants are awarded following the recommendation of a jury. The applications are submitted to the jury in anonymised form. Maximum funding: CHF 15,000 for a performative literature project; CHF 25,000 for a writing project.
Application deadlines: 1 March and 1 September; first public event no sooner than six months and publication no sooner than nine months after the application deadline. The applications are evaluated by a jury.
Decision timeline: within four months of the application deadline.
ii. Comic creation grants
Pro Helvetia awards creation grants for comics and graphic novels (including digital formats) to Swiss authors.
Grants should support recipients in their work on an emerging project.
The project must be completed no sooner than nine months and no later than three years after the application deadline. Rejected projects may not be resubmitted.
In addition to the biographical information, application dossiers must contain the following documents: project description, synopsis, sketches and research material as well as ten pages, of which at least four completed pages.
Comic creation grants are awarded following the recommendation of a jury and amount to a maximum of CHF 20,000.
Application deadline: 1 September; first publication no sooner than nine months after the application deadline. The applications are evaluated by a jury.
Decision timeline: within four months of the application deadline.
iii. Research grants for literature
Pro Helvetia provides grants to support research, content finding processes, the development of ideas and storyboards, experimental and multimedial approaches, learning new skills and testing various artistic approaches for a planned project.
In addition to biographical information, the application dossier must contain the following documents: description of goal, time schedule and place in the artistic career of the person concerned.
Pro Helvetia expects the process to be completed within one year. The same project may not be submitted for support twice. Recipients of a research grant may apply for a further research grant at the earliest two years after submitting their final report for the current project.
A research grant is independent of a creation grant. A project resulting after the end of the research in question is therefore eligible for a creation grant. However, support granted for a project does not imply any subsequent right to a creation grant.
A research grant may amount to CHF 5,000 at most. A maximum of 20 research grants are awarded per year.
iv. Literary translation grants
Professional Swiss translators may submit funding requests for literary translations. Applications for a supplement to the translator’s fee may also be submitted. In this case, Pro Helvetia will cover the difference between the publisher’s estimated fee and the usual translation rate in Switzerland (CHF 60 per 1,800 characters for prose; CHF 120 per poem for poetry). Applications must include a publishing contract.
A maximum amount of CHF 25,000 per translator and year may be applied for.
Funding requests for translations of contemporary Swiss literature must be submitted by the publisher (see Section 2.3).
v. Grants to translators for the creation of a promotional dossier
International and translators may apply for contributions towards the creation of a promotional dossier, including a sample translation of a work of contemporary Swiss literature, and for its placement with a licensed publisher (max. two per year and translator; max. amount of funding: CHF 800; requests should be submitted via e-mail). It must be clarified in advance whether the rights for the title in question are still available.
2.1.2 Emerging artists projects
Emerging artists projects help up-and-coming artists to establish themselves firmly in their professional environment at national and international level. Eligible for support are artists in the first five years of their artistic career, either after completing their professional training or after presenting their work in public for the first time. Pro Helvetia promotes emerging artists in collaboration with established institutions (festivals, ensembles, associations, etc.), whereby the funded projects must be aimed at Swiss authors or translators who demonstrate great artistic potential with a prospect of a national or international career.
Pro Helvetia also works with the following partner institutions: Promotion of aspiring authors
2.1.3 Residencies and research trips
i. Residencies (duration of up to six months)
Pro Helvetia supports residencies and research trips by literary professionals (e.g. publishers, authors, translators, event organisers) 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 literary professionals from Switzerland and from the regions covered by the liaison offices.
More information: Residencies of the liaison offices
ii. Research trips (duration of up to four weeks)
Swiss literary professionals may apply for research trips worldwide. Literary professionals from the regions covered by the liaison offices may apply for research trips to Switzerland.
More information: Research trips
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. Art, science and technology
Pro Helvetia supports residencies at the interface of art, science and technology in collaboration with CERN in Geneva, South Africa, India and Chile. These residencies are aimed at practitioners from all arts disciplines that are promoted by Pro Helvetia.
More information: Guidelines for Applicants Innovation & Society
v. Writing in residency
In addition to the countries and regions covered by Pro Helvetia’s liaison offices, Pro Helvetia’s Literature Division, in collaboration with partner institutions, offers residencies for Swiss authors and Swiss translators in various other countries (Germany, France, Austria, South Eastern Europe, USA). Residencies last between four and ten weeks.
More information: Writing in residency
2.1.4 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, transdisciplinary projects that seek new forms of critical reflection on contemporary art production and art criticism, and that appeal to different types of audiences.
More information: Dossier «Critical Reflection»
2.2 Event organising institutions
Pro Helvetia only supports projects by recognised cultural institutions with a multi-annual national and/or international curatorial programme and with cross-regional reach. To qualify for support, projects must ensure that the participating literary professionals receive commensurate fees.
2.2.1 Events in Switzerland
Pro Helvetia supports cross-regional literature festivals, comics festivals and reading series that either present works from several of Switzerland’s languages or refer to the country as a whole, as well as thematic events, including exhibitions in the field of comics, that promote exchange between Switzerland’s language regions.
2.2.2 National and international mobility
i. Mobility of authors and translators
Pro Helvetia supports the national and international mobility of Swiss literary authors and translators by covering
- the fees of cross-regional events in Switzerland
- the fees and travel costs for international events involving Swiss literary professionals.
- parts of the implementation costs (e.g. for technology) instead of travel costs in the case of digital or hybrid events.
Maximum daily fee for readings: CHF 600. Maximum contribution per new publication: CHF 5,000.
ii. Mobility of literature and comics exhibitions
Pro Helvetia also supports the mobility of literary exhibitions and exhibitions in the field of comics that are shown in other linguistic regions of Switzerland or abroad. As a rule, the required minimum duration of such an exhibition is four weeks.
Contributions may be granted towards
- a part of the adaptation, transport and insurance costs of contemporary literary and comics exhibitions
- exhibition-related fees and international travel costs of Swiss authors; in the case of digital or hybrid events, parts of the implementation costs (e.g. for technology) instead of travel costs
- material costs for temporary artwork.
2.2.3 Emerging artist projects
Pro Helvetia promotes emerging artists in cooperation with established institutions in Switzerland and abroad. Funding is aimed at projects that enable Swiss authors and translators who demonstrate great potential for a national or international career and helps them establish themselves firmly in the national and international professional environment. Support can be granted to projects (including digital and hybrid projects) that enable artists in the first five years of their career, either after completing their professional training or after presenting their work in public for the first time.
2.2.4 International promotion
Pro Helvetia supports the international promotion of Swiss literature. Twice a year, grants of max. CHF 25,000 are awarded to such promotion projects (including digital and hybrid formats). To qualify for funding, projects must involve several books respectively authors or translators. Swiss applicants are required to cooperate with local partners (cultural institutions) while foreign applicants must cooperate with Swiss partners.
Application deadlines: 1 March and 1 September; the first event may begin no sooner than 8 weeks after the application deadline.
Decision timeline: within two months of the application deadline.
Applications for surtitling grants should be submitted to the Performing Arts division.
2.2.6 Publications and other contextualising formats
Pro Helvetia supports projects that critically examine current Swiss literary creation or individual aspects of it from an overarching, contemporary perspective. Funded projects include publications, podcasts and exhibitions. To be eligible for support, projects must be of national importance and not only address a specialist audience. No funding is available for commemorative publications, monographs or purely scientific projects.
2.2.7 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.
More information: Events combining artistic disciplines
Pro Helvetia only supports projects by publishers with professional structures and a cross-regional reach. To qualify for support, projects must ensure that the participating literary professionals receive commensurate fees.
i. Literary translations
Pro Helvetia contributes to the fees for translating contemporary Swiss literature in accordance with the customary local translation rates. To qualify for support, the translator must already have undertaken a literary translation in the specific language combination. A decisive factor is the quality of the sample translation submitted.
In addition to the usual information, application dossiers must contain the following supporting documents: 20 proofread pages of translation, the corresponding pages in the original text, as well as the signed contract (licence agreement) and signed translation contract.
In the case of translations of illustrated children’s and young children’s and young adult literature, half of the licence costs (max. CHF 2,000) are covered in addition to the translation fees. In the case of comic translations, a share of the lettering costs is covered in addition to the translation fees.
In the case of translations from Rhaeto-Romanic, planned initial, bilingual publications may be considered for support, too.
Exception in regards to contemporary literature: Recently deceased Swiss authors, as well as the first translation of a deceased 20th-century author in a specific language area and/or by a publishing company that has not previously published Swiss literature. In addition, historical translations are eligible for support if the applicant can establish a well-founded, convincing connection with the present. The publishing company must feature international contemporary literature in its programme and demonstrate an active interest in the translation of contemporary works. There must be a potential for expanding Swiss literary creation in the target language area. Only one historical work per publisher will be supported.
- At the request of Swiss publishers, Pro Helvetia supports translation work and, twice a year, editorial work and projects in connection with translation applications (max. 2 per year and publisher at max. CHF 2,000 each).
- At the request of international publishers, Pro Helvetia promotes translation work and the international mobility of translated authors (Section 2.2.2).
- Translations into South-East European languages are supported through the Traduki partner network. Applications, whether for translations from German, French, Italian or Rhaeto-Romanic, should be submitted directly via traduki.eu/grants.
ii. Mentorship for young Swiss translators
Pro Helvetia enables aspiring young Swiss translators to work with a mentor within the scope of a specific translation project. Mentors are committed to providing professional support throughout the translation process. The focus lies on the educational character of the mentorship and on ensuring translation quality. Applications must include a contract (licence agreement) and be submitted by a publisher.
Pro Helvetia covers the fees of the Swiss translator and of the mentor. Subject to the participation of a Swiss mentor, the fee is CHF 80 per standard page and is split equally between the translator and the mentor.
iii. Sample translations
Pro Helvetia supports publishers in producing sample translations of Swiss contemporary literature (max. 4 per publisher per year; requests should be submitted via e-mail). Supported target languages: Switzerland’s national languages, English, Russian, Chinese and Spanish. Pro Helvetia funds translations at local rates up to a maximum of CHF 500 and reserves the right to apply priority criteria.
2.3.2 International promotion
Pro Helvetia supports the international promotion of Swiss literature. Twice a year, grants of max. CHF 25,000 are awarded for such promotion projects (including digital and hybrid formats). To qualify for support, projects must involve several books or authors. Swiss applicants must cooperate with recognised local partners, foreign applicants with Swiss partners.
Application deadlines: 1 March and 1 September; the first event may begin no sooner than 8 weeks after the application deadline.
Decision timeline: within two months of the application deadline.
2.3.3 Promotion projects of publishers from Italian-speaking Switzerland
Pro Helvetia supports promotion projects (including digital and hybrid projects) of Swiss publishers in connection with original publications in Italian by Swiss authors. In addition to the usual requirements (see Section 4), the manuscript must also be submitted.
2.3.4 International presence of Swiss authors
Pro Helvetia supports the international presence of Swiss authors at the request of Swiss and international publishers whose programme features a highly regarded new publication by a the authors concerned.
Support includes the payment of fees (CHF 600 at most per reading day) and international travel costs. In the case of digital or hybrid events, parts of the implementation costs (e.g. for technology) instead of travel costs may be assumed. A maximum of CHF 5,000 may be granted per new publication. A confirmation of the event(s) by the organisers is required.
i. Publications and other contextualising formats
Pro Helvetia supports projects that critically examine current Swiss literary creation or individual aspects of it from an overarching, contemporary perspective. Projects include publications, podcasts and exhibitions. To be eligible for support, projects must be of national importance and not only address a specialist audience. No funding is available for commemorative publications, monographs or purely scientific projects.
Pro Helvetia supports Swiss and international magazine projects (including digital magazines) that present and reflect Swiss literary creation. Priority is given to journals, magazines and periodicals that reach a broad audience, contribute to exchange between Switzerland’s language regions, are devoted to literary translation or offer a platform for emerging Swiss authors.
No more than two projects per magazine and per year can be supported.
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.
The Division of Literature is also unable to consider funding requests for:
- Printing costs for works of fiction
- Self-published or paid publications
- Contributions to the costs for printing translations
- New editions, books in print or published books
- Anthologies, works of non-fiction that do not deal with Swiss literary production, reference works, specialist books, scientific publications and events, secondary literature, festive and anniversary publications and bibliophilic publications
- Secondary exploitation (audio books, radio plays, dramatisations, dubbing, publication of lectures)
- Scenic readings
- Event facilitation and moderation
- Archive and library exhibitions
4. Application Dossier
Funding applications submitted to Pro Helvetia must contain:
- Details on the keypersons involved in the project
- Project description in conceptual and organisational terms
- Place and date of public performance, publication 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 type||Application deadline||Decision timeline|
|Funding requests up to CHF 25,000||ongoing, up to eight weeks prior to the event/publication||within eight weeks|
|Funding requests between CHF 25,001 and 50,000||ongoing, at the latest four months prior to the event/publication||within four months|
|Funding requests over CHF 50'000||1 September, at the latest four months prior to the event/publication||within four months|
|1 December, at the latest four months prior to the event/publication||within four months|
|1 March, at the latest four months prior to the event/publication||within four months|
|1 June, at the latest four months prior to the event/publication||within 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
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 assesses 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 for projects in the field of contemporary art and culture 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 organisers to be committed to gender equality, diversity and equal opportunities.
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 applications:
- Applications up to CHF 25,000: Decisions are taken by the responsible division of Pro Helvetia
- Applications between CHF 25,001 and 50,000: Decisions are taken by the responsible sector head
- 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).
Pro Helvetia disburses funding only after examining the final report, which must include a statement of account. Advance payments are possibleon request. Unless applicants notify Pro Helvetia of any delays, funding shall expire at the latest six (6) months after the project’s closing date as per the application dossier
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