Pro Helvetia faces sweeping reforms

Pro Helvetia boss, Yvette Jaggi, wants to focus on core activities Keystone

The Arts Council of Switzerland - Pro Helvetia - is facing what could be its biggest administrative shake-up since it was created in 1939.

This content was published on July 6, 2000 - 12:54

At stake are two proposals, one for a radical reform of the foundation, the other for a gradual modernisation process. Both have for months been the subject of lively debate within Pro Helvetia, whose Board of Trustees is to meet in Zurich on Thursday to decide which course to pursue.

The foundation's pro-reform president, Yvette Jaggi, wants the board to delegate some of its decision-making powers to lower levels of management and concentrate more on the funding of projects.

Writing in two leading Swiss newspapers, Le Temps and the Tages Anzeiger, Jaggi recommended that the board concentrate on broader strategy. She said delegating decisions would also free it up to consider more complex and controversial projects.

Critics of Pro Helvetia's current structure say too much money is spent on running the organisation. They point out that of the 30 million Swiss francs it receives annually from the federal government, only two-thirds goes directly to artistic and cultural projects.

At present, the allocation of a grant as small as Sfr300 has to be considered by the board, whose members are paid Sfr150 an hour. Another criticism is that there's a lack of clarity in the sharing out of responsibilities between the Federal Culture Office and Pro Helvetia.

In 1999, the foundation approved 2,000 of the 3,600 applications it received from groups and individuals for projects involving the arts.

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