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1. General conditions

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. Pro Helvetia also makes financial contributions to cultural projects in the area of literature and society that focus on social policy issues and provide new cultural stimulus, as well as projects that enhance understanding between different regional, linguistic and cultural communities in Switzerland.


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). 

Pro Helvetia supports projects by Swiss folk culture associations that promote talented young folk artists, the development of folk culture, or folk culture related exchange within Switzerland. Support is provided by means of a blanket loan to be administered by IG Volkskultur (cf. information sheet).

2. Scope of promotion

2.1 Work grants

Pro Helvetia supports the creation of literary works 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. 


The manuscript must be submitted to Pro Helvetia within 5 years.

Recipients of work grants must wait four years before they may apply for another grant.


2.2  Project grants


2.2.1 Translation grants

On request by Swiss or international publishers, Pro Helvetia supports the translation of:

  • contemporary individual works of fiction by Swiss authors;
  • children’s and youth literature by Swiss authors. Pro Helvetia assumes, in addition, at most 50% of an advance payment towards the licence fee;
  • works by Swiss authors on topics of Swiss culture, art and folk culture; 
  • Swiss plays. When independent theatre groups perform in a linguistic region other than their own, Pro Helvetia also supports the surtitling. (Cf. Theatre guidelines).

On request by Swiss translators, Pro Helvetia supports:

  • the translation of Swiss fiction that requires significant editorial work (complete oeuvre, editorial report);
  • the translation of international fiction;
  • work residencies in connection with ongoing translation projects.

To qualify for a translation grant, the translator in question must have had at least one literary translation already published by a recognised publishing house. 


2.2.2 Grants for publications

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;
  • publications in the fields of cultural anthropology and everyday culture dealing with Swiss topics from a contemporary perspective; 
  • publications on Swiss topics in any arts discipline from a contemporary perspective; 
  • well-recognised cultural and artistic journals (for specific criteria, please consult the Factsheet on magazine promotion);
  • French-language paperbacks as part of «Poche Suisse». 

2.2.3 Literary events

Pro Helvetia supports organisers in connection with: 

  • literary tours by Swiss authors in foreign countries or Swiss linguistic regions other than their own Factsheet reading tours to foreign countries;
  • 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. 

2.2.4 Book promotion

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. This funding is aimed at professional publishers, publishing groups, associations and event organisers in the book and literature field.


Information sheet book promotion


2.2.5 Arts and audience projects

Pro Helvetia supports arts and audience projects in Switzerland that engage audiences in personal encounters with the arts 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, or if they focus on more than one linguistic region in Switzerland.

Guide for the promotion of arts an audience outreach (PDF)


2.2.6 Knowledge exchange

Pro Helvetia fosters international exchange of knowledge among literary writers, translators and other cultural specialists. Eligible for support are specialists who contribute to the content of public events outside of Switzerland on topics relating to Swiss literature, everyday and folk culture. As a rule, the amount of support is measured against the travel expenses. The application is to be submitted by the event organiser.


2.2.7 Exhibitions and events on topics of everyday and folk culture in Switzerland 

Pro Helvetia supports exhibitions and events dealing with aspects of everyday culture and folk culture in Switzerland as well as their transfer to other linguistic regions in Switzerland and to other countries. 

Contributions may be made to:

  • thematic exhibitions and events that give a new cultural stimulus to social themes relevant to Switzerland;
  • projects involving cooperation between local and regional museums in Switzerland;
  • adaptation, transport and insurance costs of exhibitions to be shown in other linguistic regions of Switzerland or abroad.

2.3 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 of outstanding talent with 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.



Promotion of aspiring artists at Pro Helvetia


2.4 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.  





3. Exclusions

Pro Helvetia provides no support if:

  • the same part of the project is already supported by other Federal institutions (e.g. Swiss Federal Office of Culture, Presence Switzerland, Swiss National Science Foundation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation);
  • the project is part of a school, college or university curriculum or a training course (incl. research projects, theses, dissertations, diploma projects, scholarship projects, etc.);
  • the support is intended for infrastructure or equipment costs, or for the operational costs of cultural institutions, archives or collections;
  • the project is not dependent on financial support.

Moreover the Literature and Society division cannot accept applications for support in connection with: 

  • the publication of works of fiction in German or French;
  • self-publication of books or publication against payment;
  • printing costs of translations;
  • reprints, books in print or books already published;
  • anthologies, works of reference, specialist books, scholarly publications and events, secondary literature, honorary and anniversary publications, bibliophile editions; 
  • adaptations (audio books, radio plays, dramatisations, works put to music, publications of talks);
  • scenic readings;
  • presentations by moderators;
  • book launches, promotional tours organised by publishers;
  • archive and library exhibitions;
  • knowledge exchange and exhibitions taking place in the context of schools and universities.

4. Dossier contents

An application to Pro Helvetia must contain the following items: 

  • description of the project;
  • place and date of the event(s); 
  • information on the authors, translators and curators involved; 
  • media clips; 
  • budget and finance plan including specification of the contribution requested from Pro Helvetia.

Additional items in the case of translations:

  • excerpt from the proofread translation for assessment by experts and the associated original text; 
  • licence agreement, contract between translator and publisher including specification of translation fee; 
  • in the case of plays, a contract with a publisher or evidence that the play to be translated will be staged.

Also required in the case of work grants:

  • short curriculum vitae, 20 pages of the planned literary work or 20 representative pages which are closely linked to the planned literary work;
  • in the case of poetry projects: 15 poems;
  • a recent book publication by postal mail.

Also required in the case of publications:

  • complete typescript and publisher’s contract with the author. 


Pro Helvetia accepts applications exclusively via Exceptions may be made on request. 

5. Application deadlines and time until decision is taken

Applications not subject to a fixed deadline are decided on within eight weeks, those subject to a fixed deadline within four months.


Application type

Application deadline

Beginning of events / Date of printing

Work grants

1 March


from 1 June

Project grants up to CHF 25‘000 towards events in Switzerland and abroad, publications, translations

ongoing, up to 8 weeks before the first event/the date of printing

Project grants of over CHF 25‘000 towards events in Switzerland and abroad, publications, translations

1 September

from 1 January

1 December

from 1 April

1 March

from 1 July

1 June

from 1 October

Book promotion

1 September

from 1 January

1 March

from 1 July

6. Processing of applications

6.1 Pre-assessment

Pro Helvetia decides to process an application only if 

  • the project in question fulfils the general criteria for support (cf. section 1); 
  • there is no reason for exclusion (cf. section 3);
  • the application is complete and has been submitted on time (cf. sections 4 and 5).

6.2 Qualitative evaluation

Pro Helvetia assesses whether 

  • the project fulfils the requirements of high artistic and technical quality;
  • the project is executed in accordance with professional standards; 
  • the costs are proportionate to the benefits expected; 
  • the project is likely to have a long-term impact.

6.3 Decision-making bodies

  • Work grants: The decision on applications is taken by the director of Pro Helvetia on recommendation of a jury. 
  • Project contributions: The decision on requests for up to CHF 25,000 is taken by the specialist division; for applications in the range of CHF 25,000 to CHF 50,000, the decision is taken by Pro Helvetia’s Cultural Promotion department.
  • The decision on applications for more than CHF 50,000 as well as on several years of support agreements is taken by the director of Pro Helvetia at the request of the Committee of Experts and after consultation with the Management Board; decisions on applications for over CHF 300,000 must be approved by the Board of Trustees.

6.4 Notification of a decision

A decision is communicated without detailed reasons being given. On receipt of the decision, applicants can demand an official decision statement from Pro Helvetia against which an appeal can be lodged. 


6.5 Obligations of recipients of support from Pro Helvetia 

A pledge of support by Pro Helvetia places certain obligations on the applicants. If the applicants do not fulfil these obligations, Pro Helvetia is entitled to reduce the amount of support accordingly or demand a refund of support payments already made.   


Factsheet for grant recipients (PDF)


6.6 Disbursement

Pro Helvetia makes the support payments only after a final report, including the accounts, has been examined. Advance payments are possible on request. Unless the applicants notify Pro Helvetia of any delays, funding expires at the latest one year after the project’s closing date specified in the application dossier. If no closing date has been specified, Pro Helvetia sets deadlines itself. 


6.7 Appeals

Decision statements from Pro Helvetia can be appealed within 30 days of the date of receipt. The appeals must be lodged with the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht). An appeal must include the original application as well as the reasons for the appeal, including appropriate evidence, and must be signed by the appellant. The decision statement being appealed against needs to be enclosed as evidence. Appellants bear the costs of this procedure. 


Appeals are to be submitted to:
CH-9023 St. Gallen

7. Purpose of the guidelines and legal basis

The guidelines explain what is needed to submit a complete application for support from Pro Helvetia for an artistic or a cultural project, what the criteria for the evaluation of an application are, what deadlines and procedures apply, and what legal steps can be taken. The guidelines supplement the Grant Ordinance (Verordnung über Beiträge der Stiftung Pro Helvetia) adopted by Pro Helvetia’s Board of Trustees on 23 November 2011 as well as the Arts and Culture Promotion Act (Kulturförderungsgesetz) of 11 December 2009 and the Arts and Culture Promotion Ordinance (Kulturförderungsverordnung) of 23 November 2011. These legal documents can be accessed (in German, French and Italian) on Pro Helvetia’s website at



Status: January 2016

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The Guidelines as PDF: