Switzerland/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy
2.3 Cultural policy objectives
Failing a single, unified national definition of culture, it is difficult to point to cultural policy objectives reflecting the attitudes of the major players in Swiss cultural policy (mainly the cities and cantons) at the same time.
Nevertheless, in the discussion on the new Federal Act on the Promotion of Culture, which was passed at the end of 2009 and enacted in January 2012, several papers outlining cultural policy objectives were developed. Thus, for instance, Article 3 of the new Act mentions the following objectives: "The promotion of culture by the federal government shall have the following aims: a) to strengthen the cohesion and cultural diversity of Switzerland; b) to promote a richly diverse and qualitatively outstanding range of cultural activities and offerings; c) to establish favourable conditions for cultural workers and cultural institutions; d) to provide the population of Switzerland with access to culture and to facilitate such access; e) to make Swiss cultural work known abroad." Accordingly, Article 8 establishes the following priorities: "The Confederation shall in the first instance support projects that a) provide the population with access to culture, or that facilitate access; and b) make a particular contribution to the safeguarding or development of cultural or linguistic diversity."
The Swiss Federal Council's Dispatch on Culture for 2016–2019 identifies the most important aims of the country's efforts to promote culture:
- to preserve Switzerland's tangible and intangible cultural assets, that is, archaeological sites, monuments, historic townscapes, and moveable cultural assets; to gather, record, preserve, and disseminate (print, audio, video, and web) information about Switzerland; to safeguard and breathe life into Switzerland's cultural heritage; to prevent the theft, pillaging, and illegal import and export of cultural assets; to lend specialised support to the professional documentation, archiving, and collection of cultural assets;
- to promote a rich and varied cultural life of a high quality: to foster the free development of professional artistic and cultural production in all sectors; to create favourable conditions for cultural institutions and organisations; to nurture artistic talent; to promote exchange between public, civil-society, and private cultural initiatives;
- to enhance the cultural participation of all population groups: to strengthen cultural and music education and intercultural skills; to enable equal access to culture for all population groups; to promote the cultural activities of laypersons and lay organisations; to foster art education and cultural education;
- to strengthen the social cohesion of a diverse population: to raise greater awareness among the Swiss population for the country's various cultures; to stimulate exchange between cultural and linguistic communities; to safeguard multilingualism as a hallmark of Switzerland; to protect the linguistic and cultural rights of minorities; to ensure linguistic freedom, and to preserve and promote minority languages; to nurture individual and institutional multilingualism in Switzerland's national languages;
- to ensure cultural exchange with countries abroad: to cultivate lively and balanced cultural exchange with other countries; to make known Switzerland's cultural production and cultural heritage abroad; to spread Switzerland's cultural production through international markets; to preserve Switzerland's interests, national communication, and image abroad; and
- to contribute to Switzerland's attractiveness as a location for business and education; to tap and utilise the creative, innovative, and economic potentials of culture; to improve and develop the conditions for the cultural industries; to convey the rich and varied cultural life of Switzerland to tourists and visitors (e.g., the diversity of museums and collections).
Similar formulations of these aims can be found in the various cantonal acts on culture. Importantly, these aims are not ranked in hierarchical order, but are assigned equal status. Both national cultural policy and the cultural policy of the Swiss Confederation must orient themselves towards these aims. Depending on changes in cultural policy and its conditions, individual aims can be strengthened or emphasised.
Chapter published: 12-11-2014