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Arts' backers join forces to secure future

Who pays the piper ... arts funding is up in the air until new laws are drafted next year

(Keystone)

Switzerland's two bodies charged with promoting the arts are seeking a clear mandate on how to conduct their activities.

In an unusual show of unity, the arts council, Pro Helvetia, and the Federal Office for Culture held a joint press conference on Monday to put forward their case.

The two institutions, often seen as competitors, hope that by presenting a united front they will persuade parliament to clarify their roles relative to each other.

Pro Helvetia is represented in 15 countries but its ambitions are currently on hold until draft legislation is presented to parliament at the beginning of next year.

The bill will lay out who is responsible for promoting cultural activities.

Both Pro Helvetia and the Culture Office were keen to stress on Monday that they intended to work closely together and share resources to improve that cooperation.

Pro Helvetia has called for SFr180 million ($132.4 million) in public funding over the next four years, but the government has proposed granting it only SFr137 million.

Expo.02

Pro Helvetia supported more arts projects last year than ever before.

It received a record 4,568 requests for assistance, with 46 per cent of them receiving financial support totaling almost SFr21.3 million.

The national exhibition, Expo.02, was the biggest beneficiary, receiving SFr1.5 million. The money was spent on a series of musical, literary and dance events.

The smallest sum of SFr100 went to the cantonal school of Zurich Enge for a film screening.

Some 890 contributions were for sums between SFr5,000 and SFr20,000, and 34 were for amounts bigger than SFr50,000. The contributions represent only a fraction of the sums asked for.

Financial support

In 2001, 1,942 projects benefited from financial support at a cost of SFr19.6 million

The growing number of requests for financial assistance is partly due to the fact that more artists are qualified to apply for grants.

Pro Helvetia said the standard of applications for assistance had also improved dramatically.

There are also more and more requests for projects involving Swiss artists abroad.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Pro Helvetia received a record 4,568 requests for arts projects last year.
The organisation spent SFr21.3 million ($15.7 million) and supported 2,129 projects.
The national exhibition, Expo.02, was the biggest beneficiary, receiving SFr1.5 million.
The smallest sum of SFr100 went to the cantonal school of Zurich Enge for the showing of a film.

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