Cultural policy

Due to Switzerland’s federal structure, funding for culture comes from many different sources.

Studio at the Venice Biennale with visitors
The Venice Biennale, Pro Helvetia. © Andrea Avezzù

The promotion of culture in Switzerland includes support for the creation, production, broadcasting and archiving of works, which is provided both by the public authorities and by private institutions such as foundations, sponsors and patrons of the arts.

Public spending on culture comes to around CHF 3 billion per year. The lion’s share is funded by a handful of conurbations, namely the cantons of Zurich, Geneva, Bern, Vaud and Basel-Stadt, and their respective communes.

The annual federal arts budget is CHF 320 million. The culture policy of the Confederation is jointly implemented by the Federal Office of Culture and Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council.

The Federal Office of Culture (FOC) is responsible for federal cultural policy and for promoting, preserving and transmitting cultural diversity. It backs artistic creation in fields such as fine art and film, manages museums and collections, supports the preservation of historical monuments, and is involved in the provision of cultural education. The main offices of the FOC are in Bern.

The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia promotes the dissemination of Swiss culture abroad. At home it contributes to cultural exchanges between regions and promotes artistic creation. Its headquarters are in Zurich.

The FOC and Pro Helvetia, in collaboration with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), oversee Switzerland’s cultural activities abroad.