Support policy

Thanks to its precise support policy, always adapted to the field and to the needs of the artists, the Foundation has been able to support over 2000 one-time supports and 150 annual supports in the fields of the Performing Arts, Visual Arts and Music during its thirty years of activity.

Discover on this page the evolution of the Fondation Nestlé pour l’Art’ support policy in more detail.

The Foundation’s support policy over time :

  • The origin of the support criteria

    Since its creation, the Foundation has conducted a thorough reflection on its support policy. Particular attention has been paid to the selection of precise criteria, in line with the capital at its disposal. Thus, the Foundation’s approach has always been coherent and has allowed it to support a maximum number of artists’ projects.

  • Independence at the heart of its DNA

    Since the creation of the Foundation in 1991, its statutes have been drafted in such a way as to give the Board of Trustees the necessary freedom to develop a policy of support based on the principles of independence and openness to the needs of artists, offering the necessary flexibility to respond to the most unexpected developments. Thanks to experts in their field, with varied and complementary profiles, the Board has always remained in touch with the artists, attentive to their realities, their challenges and their issues.

  • Transparent criteria adapted to the needs of artists

    Since its inception, the real strength of the Fondation Nestlé pour l’Art has been to set itself apart from other foundations by supporting artists and projects that other grantmakers would not support. When Paul R. Jolles, the first president of the Foundation Board, invited the members to a first meeting, he specified: “It will not be a question of imitating in one way or another what others are doing (there are many art foundations in Switzerland), but rather of finding an original approach to promote activities that have been neglected up to now, as well as sectors that would lend themselves to a coordination of efforts between foundations pursuing the same goal”.

    This philosophy has allowed for an evolutionary approach to support, moving from an international outlook, from support for fields such as cinema or architecture or even classical plays, to the courageous and avant-garde support policy that has made the Foundation special:

    Support the emergence
    The Foundation has taken the gamble of believing in the next generation of artists and supporting them from the very beginning, focusing on promising first projects. It has thus encouraged experimentation and first creations – with the risks that this represents – and has stood by innovative spaces throughout Switzerland.

    Encourage transdisciplinarity
    The Fondation Nestlé pour l’Art quickly made its mark by emphasizing transdisciplinarity. Thus, in its first press release, in December 1991, it insisted on “promoting the idea that cultural activities form a whole and that relationships exist between its different modes of expression“. In 2003, when the Board was reorganized around three main disciplines, maintaining a cross-disciplinary perspective was the watchword. In a context of permeable separation of fields, this particularity has allowed hybrid projects to find funding and see the light of day.

    Two-speed support
    In 2003, the Fondation Nestlé pour l’Art conducted an in-depth reflection on its action. It observed that certain propositions were blocked by the inability to project beyond the next project. From 2005 onwards, artists or institutions, who were identified by the experts, were offered support for a period of one to three years, which allowed them to concentrate on their artistic work while cutting themselves off from the rhythm of fundraising for each project. In 2008, after an initial three-year partnership cycle, the Visual Arts sector also introduced a one-year junior formula. This was in response to the growing role of off-spaces. In Switzerland, these places, managed independently of institutional and commercial circuits, most often with little means and by artists, have experienced a revival of activity. As of 2011, off-spaces could also benefit from the standard two- or three-year partnerships. The Foundation has thus evolved through two distinct modes of support: one-time support and partnerships.

  • Stable supports at all times

    Adoption of counter-cyclical measures
    After twelve years of activity, the Fondation Nestlé pour l’Art has decided to stop linking its budget to the income from its capital. It has chosen to determine its expenses for the following year according to objectives rather than having these derived from budgets subject to the whims of the conjecture. In this way, it created the necessary conditions for countercyclical intervention, which was invaluable when support for artists was affected by the general economic situation. In 2007, the principle of a fixed amount for several years was adopted, reinforcing the Foundation’s ability to act with medium-term objectives.

    Support during a pandemic
    Between 2020 and 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation made the choice to maintain all of its support, whether projects were cancelled, postponed or could be shown. This measure was intended to provide support and relief to artists who were heavily affected by the health crisis. This period was also an opportunity for sustained exchanges between the foundations and the public authorities to seek solutions and common strategies to best support the cultural community in difficulty.

  • At the artist’s side until the end

    Supporting the artists until the end
    During its last year, the Foundation was keen to support artists’ projects until it ceased to operate. Thus, applications for support could still be sent to the Foundation until June 30, 2022 for projects that were to premiere before the end of the year 2022. With this important decision, the Foundation has remained true to its motto “Artists’ projects, our most precious resource” until the end.

  • Criteria for one-time support

    This section informs you about the Foundation’s support criteria in recent years.

    Within the field of music, the Fondation Nestlé pour l’Art supported projects that were born out of a dialogue between different artistic domains and that enrich cultural life in Switzerland through innovative ideas. Of particular interest to the Foundation was artistic work in the field of contemporary classical music and in the related exploration of links between different domains that allow new forms of artistic expression to emerge.

    The foundation did not lend support to:
    – CD recordings;
    – concerts with a classical repertoire;
    – concerts of popular music;
    – foreign tours;
    – the purchase or provision of instruments.

    Performing Arts
    Together with the visual arts and music, the performing arts, in each of their contemporary forms of expression, represented an area extensively supported by the Fondation Nestlé pour l’Art. The Foundation could provide support for the first or second production of a young dance troupe just as well as for research into experimental theatre forms by experienced theatrical artists, with the main focus always on fostering exchange and collaboration between artists active in other fields, such as the visual arts and music.

    The foundation did not consider:
    – projects by established artists;
    – productions of amateur performances;
    – projects realized in an academic context;
    – repeat performances or tours in Switzerland and/or abroad;
    – projects created abroad;
    – workshops.

    Visual Arts
    The Foundation developed long-term support for exhibition spaces and museums that did excellent work in favor of contemporary art. It had followed with particular interest the work of venues in the periphery.


    Activities excluded from support
    In addition to the specific limitations set out in the sections covering the three supported areas, the Foundation:

    – did not finance major events. The Foundation was a patron of the arts and not a sponsor for commercial activities;
    – did not cover the costs of basic art training (scholarships or study trips abroad) or thesis projects;
    – did not finance scientific research or publications, seminars, conferences or round table discussions;
    – did not become a member of patronage associations or committees. Cooperation with other foundations could be considered on a case-by-case basis;
    – did not grant emergency subsidies or cover deficits already incurred;
    – did not own an art collection or make acquisitions.

    Geographical area covered by the Foundation
    The Foundation operated throughout Switzerland and granted support to Swiss individuals, associations and institutions and foreign artists involved in creative projects or communication activities that contributed to enhancing the cultural life of the country.

  • Criteria for annual supports

    Performing Arts, Music, Visual Arts
    While the Foundation responded to the numerous requests for support in the form of one-time financing through an application-based process, partnerships were initiated solely at the discretion of the Foundation.

    The Foundation offered one to three-year partnerships in the areas of the performing arts, visual arts and music for partners including artists, groups of artists, and institutions. The objectives of the partnership were defined by the Foundation and the partners prior to the launch of the project. This format allowed the Foundation to offer favorable conditions for creative initiatives that develop over the long term.

    Profil of the partners
    The Foundation’s focus on maintaining continuity governed all of its decisions and was clearly expressed in its choice of partners. Though not an absolute rule, in most cases its partners were artists or institutions that had already received one-off funding from the Foundation for a creative project and whose progress the Foundation followed with a great deal of attention.

    What the Foundation offered
    Annual substantial financial support was only one part of the agreement offered by the Foundation. In the Foundation’s eyes, a partnership consisted in sharing ideas, listening, asking questions, and suggesting solutions. The Foundation therefore committed itself to visiting member organizations, taking part in their programs, and following the work of artists or groups of artists in order to bring a critical eye to their projects.

    The Foundation could consult experts to share their knowledge and expertise with partners. It believed that creating networks among partners and organizing meetings provided important opportunities for everyone involved in the projects, as these actions helped nourish individual thoughts about their own projects or even initiate new collaborations.

    What the Foundation required
    The Foundation asked that its partners strived to attain the objectives stated in the agreement they had signed, to mention the partnership on all published supporting materials, including their websites, and to regularly send flyers, programs and invitations connected to their projects to the Foundation’s address in Lausanne.

    In addition, the partners had to provide an annual report and take part in an evaluation at the end of the year. This evaluation was based as much on the working methods employed throughout the project as on the final outcome.

To our one-time support

To our annual support