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Guidelines for Applicants Visual Arts

The Arts Council’s criteria for support as well as information about the procedures for submitting an application and the deadlines are contained in the Guidelines for applicants.

1. General conditions

Status: January 2020

Pro Helvetia promotes Swiss arts, with a focus on diversity as well as on national and international appeal. It supports the dissemination of Swiss artistic work abroad, cultural exchange within Switzerland and audience awareness of the arts. As a national institution, Pro Helvetia supplements the promotional activities of Swiss cantons and municipalities and supports only projects that are cross-regionally or internationally recognised. Pro Helvetia’s emphasis is on contemporary art. In the field of visual arts, Pro Helvetia promotes the fine arts, photography, new media, performance and architecture.

To qualify for support from Pro Helvetia, the project must

  • be clearly connected to Switzerland;
  • be of nationwide importance;
  • be publicly accessible;
  • be adequately co-financed by other public or private sponsors (incl. event organisers).

2. Scope of promotion

2.1 Work grants

Pro Helvetia supports the creation of works in the field of visual arts (incl. performance, new media, artist’s books, photography as well as comics) by means of work grants. The support measures are aimed at Swiss artists whose work enjoys cross-regional recognition. Eligible artists have a proven track record in their field, and the project in question must represent a significant step in their artistic development. Applications can be submitted only by the artists involved.

Factsheet on work grants in the field of visual arts

Factsheet on work grants for comics

2.2 Project contributions

2.2.1 Events in Switzerland

Pro Helvetia promotes cultural exchange between the linguistic regions of Switzerland by supporting exhibitions and performances by Swiss artists at renowned arts institutions and art spaces in Switzerland. As a rule, the minimum duration of an exhibition must be four weeks. The applications must be submitted by the art institution or the organiser. Organisers are expected to make an appropriate contribution to local costs and fees.

Contributions can be provided towards:

  • transport and insurance costs;
  • rental costs of equipment;
  • material costs for temporary art works;
  • travel expenses (economy, excl. accommodation);
  • fees in the case of performances.

2.2.2 Events abroad

Pro Helvetia supports exhibitions and performances by Swiss artists at internationally renowned art institutions and art spaces abroad.

As a rule, the minimum duration of an exhibition must be four weeks. The applications must be submitted by the art institution or the organiser. Organisers are expected to make an appropriate contribution to local costs and fees.

Contributions can be provided towards:

  • transport and insurance costs;
  • rental costs of equipment;
  • material costs for temporary art works;
  • travel expenses (economy, excl. accommodation);
  • fees in the case of performances.

On request from a renowned organiser, Pro Helvetia supports international exchange of knowledge abroad. Eligible for support are specialists who contribute to the content of public events on topics connected with Swiss art. As a rule, the amount of support is measured against the travel expenses.

2.2.3 Publications and translations

On request from a reputed publishing company from Switzerland or abroad, Pro Helvetia contributes to the costs of printing and/or translation of theme-based publications of national significance with a clear art-historical connection to Switzerland, as well as monographs and œuvre catalogues of Swiss artists, irrespective of the author’s nationality.

Contributions may be granted to publications that:

  • contain a substantial art-historical or art-critical text;
  • deal with the artist concerned and / the theme whilst taking into account new scholarly insights;
  • have a clear and well-researched art-historical connection to Switzerland;
  • in the case of monographs: document a period of artistic creation of around ten years.

Applications for artist’s books can be submitted in connection with work grants (cf. Factsheet on work grants in the field of visual arts), applications for photo books can be submitted in connection with the promotion of photo books (cf. Factsheet on the promotion of photobooks).

Further information on the support of translations

Further information on the support of well-recognised cultural and artistic journals

2.2.4 Arts and audience projects

Pro Helvetia supports arts and audience projects in Switzerland that engage audiences in personal encounters with professional artistic creation and thereby heighten their awareness of artistic works and presentations. Projects can be considered for promotion if they contain an innovative approach to outreach and education in practice and therefore are of nationwide exemplary nature or if they focus on more than one linguistic region in Switzerland.

Factsheet promotion of arts and audience outreach

2.2.5 Residencies

Pro Helvetia supports residencies and research trips of Swiss arts practitioners in China, India (or other south Asian countries), Russia, Egypt (or other Arab countries) and Southern Africa.

Guidelines Residencies

2.3 Promotion of aspiring artists

Pro Helvetia supports aspiring artists primarily via partnerships with recognised institutions in Switzerland and abroad. The promotion is aimed at artists with outstanding potential and prospects of a national or an international career. Aspiring artists are supported during the first five years of their professional artistic career either after they have obtained their artistic degree or following the first public presentation of their work. The upper age limit for support is 35. Only projects that are conducive to establishing the artist in a professional environment at national and international level are eligible for support.

Factsheet on the promotion of aspiring artists «Support for Art Spaces»

Factsheet on the promotion of aspiring artists «Support for Presentations at Art Fairs»

Factsheet on the promotion of aspiring photographers

Dossier «Promotion of aspiring artists Visual Arts»

3. Exclusions

Pro Helvetia provides no support if

  • the same part of the project is already supported by other Federal institutions (e.g. Swiss Federal Office of Culture, Presence Switzerland, Swiss National Science Foundation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation);
  • the project is part of a school, college or university curriculum or a training course (incl. research projects, theses, dissertations, diploma projects, scholarship projects, etc.);
  • the support is intended for infrastructure or equipment costs, or for the operational costs of cultural institutions, archives or collections;
  • the project is not dependent on financial support.

Moreover the Visual Arts department cannot accept applications for support in connection with:

  • exhibitions of private collections;
  • exhibitions at commercial art galleries*;
  • projects in connection with art fairs*;
  • knowledge exchange and exhibitions taking place in the context of schools and universities;
  • exhibition catalogues, honorary publications, works of reference, bibliophile editions, as well as reprints and revised new editions of existing publications;
  • self-publication of books or publication against payment.

* With the exception of support for presentations at art fairs in the context of the promotion of aspiring artists.

4. Dossier contents

An application to Pro Helvetia must contain the following items:

  • description of the project;
  • information on the venue, including date of the event(s);
  • information on the Swiss artists involved in the project, including biographies;
  • visual documentation of the Swiss artists’ works;
  • budget and finance plan including specification of the contribution requested from Pro Helvetia.

In addition in the case of project grants:

  • transport and insurance offers

Additional items in the case of publications:

  • list of contents, complete text or essential parts of the text;
  • visual material, layout and/or dummy;
  • copies of publisher’s contracts with author, editor, translator;
  • excerpt from the translation and cost estimate.

Pro Helvetia accepts applications exclusively via myprohelvetia.ch.

5. Application deadlines and time until decision is taken

Decisions on applications will be taken within the following deadlines:

Application typeApplication deadline / Processing timeBeginning of event / Date of printing
Applications which are reviewed by a jury, irrespective of the amount of the contribution (e.g. work grants)1 September / 4 monthsfrom 1 January
1 March / 4 monthsfrom 1 July
For all other applications:
Applications of up to CHF 25`000 ongoing, at the latest eight weeks before the beginning of the event or date of printing / 8 weeks
Applications between CHF 25`001 to 50`000 ongoing, at the latest four months before the beginning of the event / 4 months
Applications over CHF 50‘000 1 September / 4 monthsfrom 1 January
1 December / 4 monthsfrom 1 April
1 March / 4 monthsfrom 1 July
1 June / 4 monthsfrom 1 October
Photobooks1 March / 4 monthsfrom 1 May
Promotion of aspiring artistsPlease refer to the relevant information sheets (section 2.3 in these Guidelines)

6. Processing of applications

6.1 Pre-assessment

Pro Helvetia decides to process an application only if

  • the project in question fulfils the general criteria for support (cf. section 1);
  • there is no reason for exclusion (cf. section 3);
  • the application is complete and has been submitted on time (cf. sections 4 and 5).

6.2 Qualitative evaluation

Pro Helvetia assesses whether

  • the project fulfils the requirements of high artistic and technical quality;
  • the project is executed in accordance with professional standards;
  • the costs are proportionate to the impact expected;
  • the project is likely to have a long-term Impact.

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.
  • Applications which are not reviewed by a jury (in the case of multi-year support agreements, the amount of funding per year is decisive):
    • The decision on applications of up to CHF 25‘000 is taken by the responsible division at Pro Helvetia.
    • The decision on applications between CHF 25‘001 and 50‘000 is taken by the responsible sector head at Pro Helvetia.

6.4 Notification of a decision

A decision is communicated without detailed reasons being given. 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 of support from Pro Helvetia

A pledge of support by Pro Helvetia places certain obligations on the applicants. If the applicants do not fulfil these obligations, Pro Helvetia is entitled to reduce the amount of support accordingly or demand a refund of support payments already made.

Factsheet for Grant Recipients

6.6 Disbursement

Pro Helvetia makes the support payments only after a final report, including the accounts, has been examined. Advance payments are possible on request. Unless the applicants notify Pro Helvetia of any delays, funding expires at the latest one year after the project’s closing date specified in the application dossier. If no closing date has been specified, Pro Helvetia sets deadlines itself.

6.7 Appeals

Decision statements from Pro Helvetia can be appealed within 30 days of the date of receipt. The appeals must be lodged with the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht). An appeal must include the original application as well as the reasons for the appeal, including 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 are to be submitted to:
CH-9023 St. Gallen

7. Purpose of the guidelines and legal basis

The guidelines explain what is needed to submit a complete application for support from Pro Helvetia for an artistic or a cultural project, what the criteria for the evaluation of an application are, what deadlines and procedures apply, and what legal steps can be taken. The guidelines supplement the Grant Ordinance (Verordnung über Beiträge der Stiftung Pro Helvetia) adopted by Pro Helvetia’s Board of Trustees on 27 November 2019 as well as the Arts and Culture Promotion Act (Kulturförderungsgesetz) of 11 December 2009 and the Arts and Culture Promotion Ordinance (Kulturförderungsverordnung) of 23 November 2011. These legal documents can be accessed (in German, French and Italian) on Pro Helvetia’s website at



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