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Guidelines for Applicants: Visual Arts

These guidelines set out the procedure for applying for visual arts funding 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 the professional contemporary Swiss visual arts with a view to ensuring their diversity as well as their national and international reach. It supports the creation of new artistic works, the dissemination of Swiss art and culture outside Switzerland and cultural exchange in Switzerland. As a national foundation, Pro Helvetia supplements the promotional activities of Swiss cantons and municipalities and supports only projects that are cross-regionally or internationally recognised.

In the visual arts, Pro Helvetia supports fine arts, photography, new media, performance and architecture.

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 sponsors (including publishers/event organisers)

2. Funding Measures

2.1 Artists

As a national foundation, Pro Helvetia supports artists with Swiss nationality or with permanent residence in Switzerland, who are firmly established on the Swiss cultural scene and who regularly exhibit their work at recognised art venues with cross-regional reach.

Emerging artists: see the information on Pro Helvetia’s specific funding measures, chapters 2.1.3 / 2.1.4 / 2.2.3 / 2.2.4

2.1.1 Productions

i. Work grants

Pro Helvetia supports the creation of new works in the visual arts. To be eligible for funding, applicants must provide a track record of independent, proven and cross-regionally recognised professional practice as well as have completed professional training. The work should contribute to advance the applicant’s artistic practice.

1. Contributions towards research

Research funding offers artists the opportunity to pursue in-depth research and implementation processes. Artists may apply for grants of up to max. CHF 5,000. All the steps of a creative process potentially arising in connection with a new project (in-depth research, materials acquisition, material studies and other measures to facilitate the production of a work of art) are considered for funding.

Application dossier

  • Description of the planned project, realisation plan, budget and financing plan (a single PDF)
  • Portfolio including links to videos etc., curriculum vitae including list of previous exhibition activities (a single PDF)

Funding
Maximum research contribution: CHF 5,000

2. Contributions towards production

Contributions towards production support the creation of a new work. Artists may apply for grants up to max. CHF 25,000. Support is given to projects that are characterised by high artistic originality and quality, feasibility and the importance of the work in the applicant’s artistic development.

Application dossier

  • Description of the planned project, realisation plan, budget and financing plan (a single PDF)
  • Portfolio including links to videos etc., curriculum vitae including list of previous exhibition activities (a single PDF)

Funding
Maximum research funding: CHF 25,000.

3. Contribution towards production including presentation

Contributions in this area support the production of a new work as part of its first public presentation. Artists may apply for contributions up to max. CHF 25,000. Supported projects are characterised by their high artistic originality and quality, the importance of the work in the applicant’s artistic development and a convincing strategy for ensuring the public presentation of the work.

Application dossier

  • Description of the planned project, realisation plan, budget and financing plan (a single PDF)
  • Portfolio including links to videos etc., curriculum vitae including list of previous exhibition activities (a single PDF)
  • Confirmation of event organiser

Funding
Maximum production funding including presentation: CHF 25,000.

Application deadlines: 1.3. and 1.9.; projects may begin no sooner than four months after the application deadline (Jury)

ii. Comic creation grants

Pro Helvetia awards work grants in the field of comics and graphic novels to Swiss authors and illustrators.

Grants are intended to enable work on an emerging project. The project must be completed no earlier than nine months and no later than two years after the applications deadline. Rejected projects may not be resubmitted.

In addition to the usual information, application dossiers must contain the following supporting documents: Project description, synopsis and extract of the scenario, sketches and research material, at least four completed pages and the most recent publication.

Comic creation grants are awarded following the recommendation of a jury. Comic creation grants: maximum CHF 20,000.

Application deadline: 1.9., at latest 9 months prior to first publication (Jury)

iii. Cahiers d’Artistes

Pro Helvetia’s «Cahiers d’Artistes» enables artists to publish their first monographic work. Funding is awarded following the recommendation of a jury. Selected artists subsequently design the publication in close collaboration with a graphic design studio, a Swiss publisher and Pro Helvetia.

Detailed information on the «Cahiers d’Artistes Collection» will be available from autumn 2021: cahiers.ch.

Application deadline every two years according to the call for applications

iv. Contributions towards research and production for transdisciplinary projects

Pro Helvetia provides contributions towards research and production for the creation of transdisciplinary projects. 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 Photography books and digital publication formats

The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia supports the publication of photography books and digital publication formats. The selection of projects should represent the diversity of photographic work. Funding is awarded following the recommendation of a jury.

Funding criteria

«Photography Book Funding» is available for artists or photographers who are either Swiss nationals or with permanent residence in Switzerland and who work in the field of artistic, documentary, augmented or applied photography.

Funding is only available for previously unpublished books and digital formats that convince through the quality of the concept, the relevance of the topic addressed and a contemporary visual language.

Application dossier (PDF, except mock-up)

  • Photographer’s curriculum vitae
  • Work portfolio
  • Mock-up
  • Editorial concept (table of contents, texts, graphic design)
  • Detailed budget and financing plan for the publication and its distribution, including details of the funding requested from Pro Helvetia
  • Copy of the publisher-photographer agreement (self-published books require appropriate justification)
  • Details on the diffusion/distribution of the publication

Funding

Project contribution: maximum CHF 25,000.

Application deadline: 1.3., the book may be published at the earliest four months after the application deadline

 

2.1.3 Emerging artists projects: launch funding for photographic projects

Pro Helvetia supports emerging photographers in launching new projects, in order to position themselves in artistic, documentary, augmented or applied photography. Funding includes coaching by experts in the context of mentoring meetings (organised by Pro Helvetia).

Emerging artists

Pro Helvetia promotes emerging artists in cooperation with established institutions in Switzerland and abroad. The projects supported must be aimed at artists and cultural practitioners who demonstrate great artistic potential with a view to a national or international career and help them establish themselves firmly in the national and international professional environment. Support can be granted to projects that enable artists in the first five years of their artistic career, either after completing their professional training or presenting their first work in public.

Projects

  • must involve new photographic research, which serves to deepen the artist’s professional experience
  • must demonstrate the needs of photographers in terms of professional support
  • must lead to public presentation (exhibition, publication, edition, etc.)
  • are characterised by a convincing and relevant concept and an independent visual language

Application dossier

  • Photographer’s portfolio and CV (a single PDF)

Funding

  • CHF 5,000 per project
  • Professional coaching

 

Application deadline: 1.9., at the latest eight weeks prior to the start of the project

2.1.4  Emerging artists projects: residencies

In cooperation with various partners, Pro Helvetia supports specialised residency programmes that offer young artists and curators mentoring programmes, access to networks and other initial exhibition opportunities.

Emerging artists

Pro Helvetia promotes emerging artists in cooperation with established institutions in Switzerland and abroad. The projects supported must be aimed at artists and cultural practitioners who demonstrate great artistic potential with a view to a national or international career and help them establish themselves firmly in the national and international professional environment. Support can be granted to projects that enable artists in the first five years of their artistic career, either after completing their professional training or presenting their first work in public.

Further information: Promotion of aspiring artists Visual Arts

Currently, residencies are possible with the following partners

Check our website for calls and application deadlines for residencies

2.1.5 Residencies and research trips

Pro Helvetia supports residencies and research trips by Swiss visual arts practitioners (fine arts, photography, new media, performance and architecture) to the countries covered by its six liaison offices and to other selected regions (Arab region, China, Russia, South America, South Asia, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa). In addition, Pro Helvetia supports residencies and research trips to Switzerland by visual arts practitioners from specific countries. See Residencies and Research Trips for possible destinations for Swiss visual arts practitioners and for the countries of origin of foreign visual arts practitioners.

In addition, Pro Helvetia offers residencies in New York for Swiss visual arts practitioners in cooperation with the Swiss Institute in New York.

Check our website for calls and application deadlines for residencies

Funding is also available for residencies at the intersection of art, science and technology in all the artisticdisciplines supported by Pro Helvetia.

More information: Guidelines for Applicants: Innovation & Society

2.2 Event Organisers

Pro Helvetia supports publicly accessible projects at renowned art institutions or established art spaces that have a multi-annual national and/or international curatorial programme and cross-regional reach.

To qualify for support, projects must ensure artists receive commensurate fees.

2.2.1 Events in Switzerland

Pro Helvetia promotes the presentation of contemporary Swiss artists at renowned art institutions and art spaces in Switzerland, provided that exchange between various language regions is ensured.

The minimum duration of an exhibition is usually four weeks, with the exception of events such as festivals. Applications must be submitted by the art institutions or the organisers. To qualify for support, projects must ensure that artists receive commensurate fees and that the event organiser contributes to covering local costs (accommodation, meals).

Funding is available for

  • Transport and insurance costs
  • Equipment rental
  • Material costs for temporary works of art
  • Artist fees
  • Travel expenses for artists (economy, without accommodation)

Application deadlines: see Section 5

2.2.2 Events outside Switzerland

Pro Helvetia supports the presentation of contemporary Swiss artists abroad at renowned art institutions and art spaces with an international reach.

The minimum duration of an exhibition is usually four weeks, with the exception of events such as festivals. Applications must be submitted by the art institutions or the organisers. To qualify for support, projects must ensure that artists receive commensurate fees and that the event organiser contributes to covering local costs (accommodation, meals).

Funding is available for

  • Transport and insurance costs
  • Equipment rental
  • Material costs for temporary works of art
  • Artist fees
  • Travel expenses for artists (economy, without accommodation)

Application deadlines: see Section 5

Knowledge exchange

Renowned event organisers may request funding to support knowledge exchange abroad. Funding is available for specialists and artists participating at public events (podiums, meetings, conferences, etc.) dealing with topics related to contemporary Swiss artistic creation ( fine arts, photography, new media, performance and architecture). Funding is only available for travel costs (economy, no accommodation).

Application deadlines: see Section 5

2.2.3 Emerging artists projects: grants for art spaces

Emerging artists

Pro Helvetia promotes emerging artists in cooperation with established institutions in Switzerland and abroad. The projects supported must be aimed at artists and cultural practitioners who demonstrate great artistic potential with a view to a national or international career and help them establish themselves firmly in the national and international professional environment. Support can be granted to projects that enable artists in the first five years of their artistic career, either after completing their professional training or presenting their first work in public.

Pro Helvetia supports curatorial projects involving emerging artists in self-organised art spaces and in small and medium-sized art institutions (hereinafter art spaces). This is intended to make it easier for emerging artists to enter the art scene and to gain initial exhibition experience.
Art spaces may apply to Pro Helvetia either with an annual programme (for grants of up to CHF 15,000) or for individual project grants (up to CHF 5,000).

Pro Helvetia welcomes applications from art spaces in Switzerland that meet the following criteria

  • Innovative and original curatorial approach and art outreach programme
  • High-quality programme
  • Continuous exhibition activities
  • Track record spanning at least two years
  • To be eligible for support, projects must ensure artists receive commensurate fees

Application dossiers for annual programmes must contain

  • Detailed description of the curatorial concept and the planned programme including financing plan
  • List of participating emerging artists from Switzerland known at the time of submission (including year of birth, biographies, information on university degrees and visual documentation)
  • Details on the art space: history, focus (general concept, goals, positioning in Switzerland and possibly internationally)
  • the annual programme and final account for the previous year

Application dossiers for project grants must contain

  • Project documentation
  • Information on the participating emerging artists from Switzerland (including year of birth, biographies, information on university degrees and visual documentation)
  • Details on the art space: history, focus (general concept, goals, positioning in Switzerland and possibly internationally)
  • Programme for the current and the previous year

Funding

Individual projects: CHF 5,000
Annual programme (based on performance agreement): CHF 15,000.

Funding is available for

  • Production costs
  • Transport and insurance costs
  • Equipment rental
  • Travel expenses for artists
  • Artist fees

No funding is available for infrastructure and operating costs.

Application deadlines: 1.3. und 1.9.; project may begin at the earliest eight weeks after the application deadline

2.2.4 Emerging artists projects: contributions to presentations at art fairs

Emerging artists

Pro Helvetia promotes emerging artists in cooperation with established institutions in Switzerland and abroad. The projects supported must be aimed at artists and cultural practitioners who demonstrate great artistic potential with a view to a national or international career and help them establish themselves firmly in the national and international professional environment. Support can be granted to projects that enable artists in the first five years of their artistic career, either after completing their professional training or presenting their first work in public.

Pro Helvetia supports presentations by emerging artists at major art fairs to give them international visibility and market access.

Contributions to presentations at art fairs are aimed at galleries that are planning to present an emerging artist at an art fair. Funding is available for individual exhibitions and presentations that take up at least 50% of the exhibition booth.

Applications must be submitted by galleries. They can be submitted prior to applying to a specific art fair. In this case, funding will be subject to definitive confirmation of participation.

To qualify for support, galleries must meet the following criteria

  • Professional, full-time gallery
  • Regular exhibition activity with regular opening hours at one’s business premises
  • Mediation of and dealing with contemporary art
  • Active for at least two years prior to application
  • High-quality programme
  • Size of exhibition booth: max. 35m2

Application dossier

  • Project description including booth design
  • Copy of art fair application form
  • Details of the gallery and the art fair including event dates
  • Details of participating emerging Swiss artists (including years of birth, biographies including years of graduation and visual documentation)
  • Budget and financing plan including details of the funding requested from Pro Helvetia

Funding

Maximum funding: CHF 10,000.

Funding is available for

  • Booth rental
  • Transport and insurance costs
  • Equipment rental
  • Travel expenses for artists

Application deadlines: 1.3. und 1.9.; the trade show may begin at the earliest eight weeks after the application deadline

2.2.5 Transdisciplinary Events

Pro Helvetia supports transdisciplinary events (including festivals) that promote cooperation between at least three disciplines (of which at least one must be outside the arts) in and outside Switzerland.

More information: Guidelines for Applicants: Innovation & Society

2.2.6 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

2.3 Publishers

Pro Helvetia only supports projects by professional publishers with a cross-regional reach. To qualify for support, projects must ensure that the participating cultural practitioners receive commensurate fees.

2.3.1  Publications and other contextualising formats

Pro Helvetia supports projects that critically examine the current Swiss visual arts or individual 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 or purely scientific projects.

Pro Helvetia’s Visual Arts Division awards printing costs and/or translation grants for thematic publications of national importance and monographs on contemporary Swiss artists, irrespective of the nationality of the authors.

Publications must

  • contain a substantial art-historical or art-critical text
  • deal with the artist and/or the subject in light of new scholarly insight
  • have a clear and well-researched (art historical) reference to contemporary Swiss art
  • monographs ought to document a creative period of approximately ten years

Application dossier

  • Table of contents, complete text or essential parts thereof
  • Visual material, mock-up or sample
  • Copies of the publishing agreement with the author, editor, translator
  • Translation excerpt and cost estimate

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 received 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 Visual Arts Division is unable to consider funding requests for

  • Projects focusing on historical positions or on the positions of deceased artists
  • Exhibitions of private collections
  • Exhibitions by commercial galleries*
  • Knowledge exchange and exhibitions at schools, colleges and universities
  • Projects within the scope of trade shows*
  • Projects within the framework of prizes/awards and related events
  • Exhibition catalogues, commemorative publications, reference works, bibliophile editions as well as new and revised editions of publications
  • Self-published or paid publications

*With the exception of trade show participation grants as part of promoting emerging artists.

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, publication or presentation
  • Detailed cost and financing planning 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

Funding applications for event organisers/institutions must also contain

  • Tenders for transport and insurance services

For further divisional requirements, please see the corresponding formats

 

Applications must be submitted via 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 framework of the available funds, Pro Helvetia prioritises 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 for projects in the field of contemporary art and culture according to their degree of independence 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.

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 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. 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 (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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