The ongoing transformations in the field of photography – whether driven by technical innovation or by transformations in media usage – has prompted calls for open strategies in support and funding. In a move to respond with greater rigour and versatility to the realities encountered by the profession, the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia, is presenting its new measures for the support and funding of photography.
The contemporary photography scene operates within a multifaceted and highly dynamic environment: various technologies and media encounter versatile forms of production and publication. Switzerland is home to a highly energetic photography scene rich in as yet untapped potential.
With a view to enhance the creativity and visibility of photography, Pro Helvetia has set out its three key priorities for support in 2023: optimising the measures for support, reinforcing both national and international networking, and promoting professionalisation among key practitioners.
Ascanio Cecco, Photography Specialist at Pro Helvetia, explains that these innovative measures were developed or reinforced following discussions among professionals from the scene:
‘This process of reflection and exchange facilitated more precise identification of the specific needs within the field, most notably centring on the necessity to support photography in all its forms and to actively foster networking both within Switzerland and at the international level.’
Photography has been integrated into all funding measures that the Swiss Arts Council has to offer in the field of visual arts. Optimising the scope of support for photography is directed at photo books and alternative types of digital publication, for which applications may be submitted over the course of the year. The funding and support of photography takes into account the entire spectrum of the medium, namely, both artistic and documentary aspects, as well as various other applied practices.
In the second half of 2023, a further open call for photography projects featuring a specific thematic focus is scheduled to be launched. The annual shift of focus is in each case determined in consultation with experts.
Frequent participation in national and international forums such as festivals and exhibitions, facilitates among Swiss photographers the pursuit of targeted networking activities. With this aim in mind, Pro Helvetia is set to further reinforce its cooperation with international forums and to establish new partnerships over the forthcoming two-year period. Support and funding of photography go hand in hand with the current implementation of new offers for career promotion and professionalisation.
In the words of Katharina Brandl, the newly appointed Head of Visual Arts at Pro Helvetia:
‘Photographs constitute one of the pivotal features of contemporary visual culture. This new strategy pays tribute to their outstanding social and artistic value. By anchoring photography more firmly to our activities, we aim to initiate discussion as to how best to position photography at the various levels of the Swiss funding system.’