The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia is looking to support research-based and process-oriented programmes that foster exchange between art, science and technology involving organisations in Switzerland and across the world.
From hackathons to fellowships, from residencies to think tanks – the Synergies open call offers support of CHF 20,000 – CHF 150,000 for international collaborations and encourages programmes which spark new approaches, methodologies and connect knowledge from different contexts.
If the following applies to your envisioned programme, it fits the open call:
- You are looking for a frame in which you can test, build and further develop research- and process-oriented formats at the intersection of art, science and technology.
- Your programme enables meaningful international collaboration, besides developing and strengthening new and existing networks between art, science and technology.
- Your programme is aimed at artistic and cultural practitioners through activities such as networking, residencies, research and exchange formats.
The support is allotted to the conceptualisation, creation and implementation of the programme. This may include artists’ fees, travel costs, material costs, etc. Infrastructural costs (building, renting, etc.) and operational costs (salaries, insurances, etc.) of the organisations will not be supported.
Who can apply?
Proposals must be jointly submitted by a minimum of two organisations. The collaboration must consist of a Swiss arts or cultural organization with one or more partners from around the world. These can be, for example: music and exhibition venues, dance companies, literature platforms, cultural spaces or established networks and platforms.
Applying organisations must have a convincing track record and the necessary experience in working at the intersection of art, science and technology. We support various definitions of “art”, “science” and “technology” according to different geographical contexts and the plurality of knowledge systems.
To help find a potential partner organisation as well as inspiration, applicants are invited to browse organisations worldwide on the «Art, Science and Technology Directory», initiated by Pro Helvetia, where they can browse organisations worldwide. The directory includes examples of organisations with relevant experience and interest. Partners are not to be limited to organisations included in the directory. The directory is initiated and commissioned by Pro Helvetia. Content was compiled by December 2022 by independent consultants. The directory will be updated periodically.
- Each collaboration involves at least one Swiss artistic or cultural organisation.
- The activities are planned over a period of 1-2 years (starting earliest in March 2024).
- The proposed programme is situated at the intersection of art, science and technology.
- All organisations invest and contribute accordingly to their size, abilities and regional contexts (contributions can include overhead costs, infrastructure, accommodation, network, visibility, advice, etc.).
- A significant part of the proposed programme is open to the public (for example public events, showcasing, online presence, etc.).
- The proposed programme has a clear impact on the Swiss artistic and cultural scene, also on respective artistic and cultural scenes.
- The programme involves artistic disciplines supported by Pro Helvetia.
Excluded from funding:
- Programmes which are part of a school or university curriculum/basic training or continuing education programme (including dissertations, diploma projects, university scholarships, etc.)
- Programmes starting before March 2024
- Infrastructural costs (building, renting, etc.) and operational costs (salaries, insurance, etc.) of the organisations
- Programmes which already receive funding from Pro Helvetia
- Programmes involving and initiated by only one organisation
- Originality, quality and impact:Does the proposed programme suggest unique methods or outstanding content? Do the organisations have convincing track records? Will the proposed programme have a significant impact on the art, science and technology landscape?
- Research- and process-orientation:Is the proposed programme research-oriented? Does it provide a framework for experimentation?
- Equity within the collaboration: What mutual inspiration and added value lies in the collaboration across different disciplines? Do art and science meet at eye level and mutually enrich each other?
- Relevance: Is the proposed programme relevant for the intersection of art, science and technology? In what way does it fit the geographical, cultural and artistic context?
How to apply
One partner per programme hands in the application until October 2, 2023.
Applications must be in English and submitted exclusively via the portal myprohelvetia.ch. Only complete applications will be considered.
Applications must contain the following:
- A concept outlining the aims, format, content, and implementation of the programme specifying the milestones and the intended impact
- Information about all participating organisations: role in the programme, investment in the programme, responsible persons, involved artists, etc.
- Signed letter of intent of all participating organisations
- A budget and financing plan (with detailed information about the financial contributions of the partners) incl. specification of the amount requested from Pro Helvetia; The maximum total grant per programme is CHF 150,000 and cannot exceed 50% of the total budget.
- Additional relevant documents (e.g. documentation of past projects, media reports, etc.)
Corresponding costs for ecologically responsible use of resources and protection of the environment (for example, expert advice for emission reduction, environmentally compatible alternatives, CO2 compensation) can be included in the programme budget.
A jury will be appointed to assess the submitted applications. All applicants will be contacted latest by February 2024.
The jury assessing applications for «Synergies» is made up of:
- Lilian Fraiji, curator, Head of LabVerde, Brazil.
- Ariane Koek, initiator of Collide@Cern, independent consultant in the fields of art, science and technology, UK.
- Radha Mahendru, curator, Senior Programme Manager and Curator at Khoj, India.
- Luc Meier, Director of La Becque, Switzerland.
- Ga Zhang, curator of media art, Professor and Vice-Dean at the Institute of Sci-Tech Arts, Central Academy of Fine Arts, China.
Questions regarding eligibilty
What is considered a programme?
A programme means that several different formats and customized sub-projects can be carried out with different participants. Examples for formats which can constitute a programme: residencies, fellowships, mentorships, think tanks, creative labs, networks, hackathons, workshops, events, research, digital exchange, fieldtrips, etc. In addition, significant parts of the programmes are open to the public (public events, showcasing, online presence).
Can we carry out an open call within our programme?
Yes, but the number of selected Swiss participants should be in accordance with the dimension of your programme. The larger the scale of your programme, the more Swiss participants are expected.
I am an individual artist/program maker/curator/etc. Can I apply?
As an individual, you do not count as an organisation and therefore cannot apply. However, your work can be part of the collaboration and included as cost in the budget.
We have an existing programme that meets the criteria. Can we apply?
Yes, as long as the funding by Pro Helvetia serves to further develop the existing programme in a new way – for example, by creating new collaborations or expanding the programme to new fields.
We have a great programme idea but no partner yet. Can we apply?
Unfortunately, no. Proposals must define all partners in detail at the time of the submission. To find a suitable partner, you can use the Art, Science and Technology Directory.
Are universities eligible as partners?
Yes, universities can participate. However, a Swiss university cannot be the only Swiss partner. There has to be at least one Swiss cultural or artistic organisation involved in the international collaboration. Furthermore, significant financial contribution to the programme is expected from universities.
Can actors from the industrial and tech sectors participate?
Yes, if they have a research and development department, are experienced in collaborations with artists and bring a financial contribution. Furthermore, the programme cannot be profit-oriented.
We are more than two organisations interested in collaborating. Can we apply?
Yes, the number of organisations is not limited. However, there has to be at least one Swiss cultural or artistic organisation involved.
What artistic disciplines are included in this call?
The call encompasses all disciplines that are supported by Pro Helvetia: design, interactive media, literature, music, performing arts, visual arts and architecture, as well as programmes that combine multiple disciplines both within and beyond the arts sector.
Questions regarding finances
Can Pro Helvetia be the only funding body?
Yes, but all organisations must invest according to their size and abilities (financial contribution or in the form of: overhead costs, infrastructure, accommodation, network, visibility, advice, etc.). Also, Pro Helvetia does not fund more than 50% of the total programme budget.
Do we need to provide an expense sheet?
Yes, an expense sheet will be part of the reporting requirements to Pro Helvetia at various review/funding moments during the programme. Payment of the grant will be made in instalments against reporting of actual expenses which should be supported by receipts.
We are planning to apply for a smaller amount than 150,000 CHF. Is that possible?
Yes. We suggest adapting the budget according to the size of the planned programme. Applications for smaller amounts are welcome.
Will any new concepts, formats or methodologies developed in a programme belong to Pro Helvetia?
No, all intellectual property rights belong to the programme partners.
Questions regarding the application process
Can we submit more than one application?
No, only one application per organisation is accepted.
Which partner should submit the proposal?
Any partner can submit the proposal. The submitting organisation will be the contact partner for Pro Helvetia.
Will Pro Helvetia evaluate the programme during its implementation?
Yes, you will be asked to submit a first evaluation 6 months after the start of the programme, as well as a final evaluation after the end of the programme.