Switzerland's federal structure means that funding for culture comes from many different sources. Public spending on culture comes to around CHF 3 billion per year, much of it funded by the communes and the cantons.
The promotion of culture in Switzerland includes support for the creation, production, broadcasting and archiving of works, which are funded both by the public authorities and by private institutions such as foundations, sponsors and patrons of the arts.
State funding for culture
Public spending on culture comes to around CHF 3 billion per year. Almost half is funded by the communes, nearly 40% by the cantons and over 10% by the federal authorities. Of Switzerland's three levels of government, it is the communes which spend the biggest share of their total budgets on culture (over 3%), especially the cities of Geneva, Zurich and Basel. The cantons which spend the most on arts and culture are Zurich, Basel-Stadt, Vaud and Bern. The annual federal arts budget is over CHF 320 million.
The various sectors are supported by different federal, cantonal and communal authorities. Theatre and music, including music schools, are mainly funded by the communes and receive support from the cantons, while cinema and film receive federal funding. The preservation of monuments and cultural heritage is the responsibility of the cantons, while public funding for media outlets comes from the federal government and communes. Universities specialising in art and design receive most of their public funding from the cantons and federal government. Museums, the visual arts, libraries and literature receive support from all three levels of government.
Responsibility for cultural policy
The cultural 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 oversee Switzerland's cultural activities abroad in collaboration with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).