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Guidelines for Applicants: Performing Arts

These guidelines set out the procedure for submitting a funding application in the field of the performing arts 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 contemporary professional performing arts in Switzerland with a view to ensuring their diversity as well as their national and international reach. It supports the creation of new productions, as well as the dissemination of Swiss performing arts 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 funders (including event organisers)

2. Funding Measures

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

2.1 Performing artists

Pro Helvetia defines performing artists as both natural and legal persons who are artistically active in art forms such as dance, theatre, music theatre, contemporary circus or performances in public spaces. The field includes individual artists, companies and institutional ensembles.

2.1.1 Production and research grants

i. New productions

Pro Helvetia supports new productions (including digital and hybrid productions) by independent companies and artists from Switzerland. To be eligible for funding, applicants must provide evidence that their production can be performed several times at least at one cross-regionally recognised venue in Switzerland. The assessment process prioritises projects according to their artistic relevance, the number and quality of co-producers and performance dates, and touring potential.

Application deadlines:

  • 1 March for productions premiering between July and December
  • 1 September for productions premiering between January and June

These applications are evaluated by the performing arts jury.
Decision timeline: within four months of the application deadline.

ii. RESEARCH GRANTS

Pro Helvetia supports thematic and artistic research by independent companies and artists from Switzerland. To be eligible for support, the companies and artists must have been professionally active cross-regionally and/or internationally for several years and regularly receive grants for tours from Pro Helvetia (see Factsheet: Performing Arts Research Grants).

Application deadlines:

  • 1 March for research starting between July and December, at the latest four months before the research begins
  • 1 September for research starting January to June of the following year, at the latest four months before the research begins

These applications are evaluated by the performing arts jury. Decision timeline: within four months of the application deadline.

III. FOLK THEATRE

Pro Helvetia supports productions by Swiss folk theatre associations that are characterised by innovative artistic handling of relevant traditional material, historic events or traditional customs. The productions must have a professional artistic director with experience in folk theatre, include lay participants in leading roles (not merely as extras or choir members) and have a cross-regional appeal.

Application deadlines: see Section 5

iV. RESEARCH AND PRODUCTION GRANTS FOR TRANSDISCIPLINARY PROJECTS

Pro Helvetia supports the creation of experimental transdisciplinary projects. Funding can be granted for research and/or production. As a rule, projects must involve persons from at least three disciplines (of which at least one must be outside the arts).

More information: Guidelines for Applicants Innovation & Society

2.1.2 Guest performances outside Switzerland

Pro Helvetia supports guest performances at internationally recognised venues and festivals. The event organisers are expected to pay appropriate fees and assume the authors’ rights and the accommodation costs. Funding by Pro Helvetia is, as a rule, based on the amount of travel and transport costs. In the case of guest performances without travel costs (e.g. digital or hybrid productions), the funding may cover some of the realisation costs (e.g. for technology or adaptation). Independent groups and artists can also apply for a lump sum for diffusion work. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, this sum may amount to between CHF 500 and CHF 2,000 per guest performance venue.

For reasons of sustainability, Pro Helvetia gives priority to tours that string together several venues, in particular if large distances need to be covered.

Application deadlines: see Section 5

2.1.3 Translation and language adaptation

As part of tour funding confirmed by Pro Helvetia, support can also be granted for the translation of stage texts and the necessary implementation (arrangement of surtitling, language adaptations, etc.).

Application deadlines: see Section 5

2.1.4 Resumed rehearsals for tours

As part of tour funding confirmed by Pro Helvetia, support can also be granted for rehearsals resumed at least six months after the production in question was last performed. The funding may cover three rehearsal days at most.

Application deadlines: see Section 5

2.1.5 Networking trips

Pro Helvetia supports the international networking of the touring managers of independent companies and artists at major festivals and platforms in Switzerland and abroad. To be eligible for funding, the represented companies and artists must be receiving regular support from Pro Helvetia. Funding is based on the amount of travel and accommodation costs.

Application deadlines: see Section 5

 

2.1.6 Invitations to event organisers

Pro Helvetia covers the accommodation costs of event organisers who travel either from another Swiss language region or from outside Switzerland to watch productions by independent companies and artists.

Application deadlines: see Section 5

2.1.7 Emerging artist projects

Pro Helvetia promotes emerging artists in cooperation with established institutions in Switzerland and abroad. The projects supported must be aimed at performing artists who demonstrate great artistic potential with a view to a national or international career and help them establish themselves in the national and international professional environment. To be eligible for funding, artists must be 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.

The calls for projects and the application deadlines are published on the Pro Helvetia website.

More information: Promotion of Emerging Artists: Performing Arts

2.1.8 Development grants

Pro Helvetia offers experienced and internationally active companies and artists from Switzerland the opportunity to reflect on their manner of working and to seek new paths. To be eligible for support, the independent companies or artists must have been touring cross-regionally and/or internationally for several years and regularly receive grants for tours from Pro Helvetia (see Factsheet: Performing Arts Development Grants)

Application deadline: 1 March for projects starting in July

Decision timeline: within four months of the application deadline.

2.1.9 Residencies and research trips

I. COUNTRIES AND REGIONS COVERED BY THE SIX LIAISON OFFICES

Pro Helvetia supports residencies and research trips by Swiss performing artists 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 performing artists from specific countries.

More information: Residencies & Research Trips

II. 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

2.1.10 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 reflexion on contemporary art production and art criticism, and that appeal to different types of audiences.

More information: Guidelines for Applicants: Innovation & Society

2.2 Event Organisers

Pro Helvetia defines event organisers as cross-regionally recognised venues and festivals with curated national and/or international programmes.

2.2.1 Guest performances in Switzerland

Pro Helvetia supports guest performances in the respective other language regions of Switzerland at cross-regionally recognised venues and festivals. The event organisers are expected to pay appropriate fees according to the recommendations of the respective professional associations and assume the authors’ rights and the accommodation costs. Funding by Pro Helvetia is, as a rule, based on the amount of travel and transport costs. In the case of guest performances without travel costs (e.g. digital or hybrid productions), the funding may cover some of the realisation costs (e.g. for technology or adaptation). With independent companies and artists, Pro Helvetia may also cover up to one third of artist fees.

Application deadlines: see Section 5

2.2.2 Guest performances outside Switzerland

Pro Helvetia supports guest performances at internationally recognised venues and festivals. The event organisers are expected to pay appropriate fees and assume the authors’ rights and the accommodation costs. Funding by Pro Helvetia is, as a rule, based on the amount of travel and transport costs. In the case of guest performances without travel costs (e.g. digital or hybrid productions), the funding may cover some of the realisation costs (e.g. for technology or adaptation).

For reasons of sustainability, Pro Helvetia gives priority to tours that string together several venues, in particular if large distances need to be covered.

Application deadlines: see Section 5

2.2.3 Invitations to event organisers

Pro Helvetia covers the accommodation costs of event organisers who travel either from another Swiss language region or from outside Switzerland to watch productions by independent companies and artists.

2.2.4 Publications and other contextualising formats

Pro Helvetia supports projects that critically examine the current Swiss performing arts or certain aspects of it from an overarching, contemporary perspective. Projects include analogue and digital publications (regardless of publication format) and presentations. To be eligible for funding, projects must be of national importance and not only address a specialist audience. No funding is available for commemorative publications, biographies or purely scientific projects.

Application deadlines: see Section 5

2.2.5 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 the respective other Swiss language regions. Outside Switzerland, support is given to these events that present Swiss productions.

 

Application deadlines: see Section 5

2.2.6 Transdisciplinary events and festivals

Pro Helvetia supports transdisciplinary events and festivals in Switzerland and abroad. As a rule, persons from at least three disciplines (of which at least one must be outside the arts) must participate in such an event or festival.

More information: Guidelines for Applicants: Innovation & Society

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 the public performance, publication or presentation including venue confirmation
  • 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 those projects that most comprehensively meet the funding criteria.

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 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.

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 25,000: Decisions are taken by the responsible division at Pro Helvetia
  • Applications between CHF 25,001 and 50,000: Decisions are taken by the responsible sector head at Pro Helvetia
  • 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 granting 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 six months after the project’s closing date as per the application dossier.

6.7 Appeals

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 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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