Pro Helvetia promotes literature from Switzerland, with a focus on diversity as well as on national and international appeal. It supports the creation of literary works, the dissemination of Swiss literature abroad, cultural exchange within Switzerland as well as audience outreach of Swiss literature. As a national institution, Pro Helvetia supplements the promotional activities of Swiss cantons and municipalities and supports only cross-regionally or internationally recognised projects.
To qualify for support from Pro Helvetia, a 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. publishers / event organisers).
Criteria fulfilled? Below you will find an overview of what our Culture and Society division promotes.
What we support: Scope of promotion
Pro Helvetia supports the creation of literary works (including children’s and youth literature, playwriting, Spoken Word performances as well as comics) by means of work grants to Swiss authors writing in any of the four national languages. To qualify for a work grant, the author in question must have had at least one work already published by a recognised publishing house (no works published at the author’s own costs) or by a digital medium that includes editing services. In the case of Spoken Word performances the author must have performed on stage at renowned venues in the past.
Recipients of work grants must submit the manuscript to Pro Helvetia within five years and must wait four years before they may apply for another grant. In the Spoken Word area, the production needs to be performed on stage within two years. Spoken word artists may apply again after two years.
Pro Helvetia’s Literature section supports:
- the translation of contemporary works of literature written by Swiss authors (all genres, including children’s and youth literature, illustration work, comics, graphic novels, and drama);
- surtitles for performative literary productions by Swiss authors;
- copy-editing/proofreading work by Swiss publishers in the case of particularly demanding projects, in connection with a regular application for translation support (two per year and publisher at most);
- promotional measures planned by Swiss publishers in connection with a regular application for translation support (2 per year and publisher at most);
- translation-related events (incl. appearances by translators);
- offers regarding networking and the enhancement of professional qualification for translators (incl. workshops and work residencies in connection with current translation projects);
- (on request by Swiss translators): the translation of international literature and major translation projects in the field of Swiss literature;
- research by translators for the creation of a presentation dossier (incl. sample translations) and for its referral to a publisher willing to purchase the publishing rights for a translation (two per year and translator at most);
- Swiss publishers for the creation of sample translations of their publications (into a Swiss national language, English or Spanish).
Pro Helvetia supports publishers by means of contributions to the costs of publication of works by recognised Swiss authors. Support can be applied for in the case of:
- fiction in Italian or Rhaeto-Romanic;
- complete editions of literary works;
- well-recognised cultural and artistic journals;
- French-language paperbacks as part of «Poche Suisse».
Pro Helvetia supports organisers in connection with:
- reading and other literary tours by Swiss authors in foreign countries or Swiss linguistic regions other than their own;
- events about translated Swiss books;
- literary festivals presenting more than one of Switzerland’s linguistic regions;
- adaptation, transport and insurance costs of literary exhibitions, which are displayed in other linguistic regions of Switzerland or abroad.
Pro Helvetia fosters the international exchange of knowledge among literary practitioners and translators. Eligible for support are specialists who contribute to the content of public events outside of Switzerland on topics connected with Swiss literature, folk culture or everyday culture. As a rule, the amount of support is measured against the travel expenses. The application is to be submitted by the event organiser.
Pro Helvetia supports the promotion of the Swiss book outside of Switzerland. In addition to its presence at the most important international book fairs (several years of support agreements with the publishers associations), Pro Helvetia makes twice a year a contribution for the international promotion of the Swiss book and its translation. This funding is aimed at professional publishers, publishing groups, associations and event organisers in the book and literature field.
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.
Pro Helvetia supports residencies and research trips of Swiss authors and translators in China, India (or other south Asian countries), Russia, Egypt (or other Arab countries) and Southern Africa.
Book distribution and book exhibitions
Pro Helvetia’s book service distributes literary works and non-fiction books about Swiss culture to foreign libraries. On request, the book service can put together compilations of thematic books for cultural congresses, book fairs and symposia.
The book service can only accept requests from Swiss embassies and consulates as well as from major foreign libraries.
Promotion of aspiring artists
Pro Helvetia supports aspiring artists primarily in collaboration with recognised institutions in Switzerland and abroad (publishing houses, festivals, art colleges, etc.). The promotion is aimed at authors and translators with outstanding artistic potential and prospects of a national or an international career. Aspiring authors and translators are supported during the first five years of their professional artistic career either after they have obtained their corresponding 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 author in a professional environment at national and international level are eligible for support.
Head of Literature
Literature Specialist (German)
Literature Specialist (Italian)
Aurélia Maillard Despont
Literature Specialist (French)
Literature Specialist (German)