Pro Helvetia shies away from radical reform

François Wasserfallen is to take over as assistant director of Pro Helvetia Keystone

The Arts Council of Switzerland - Pro Helvetia - has come out in favour of a gradual modernisation process, ruling out a radical restructuring plan that could have seen 35 board members axed.

This content was published on July 7, 2000

In what was billed as Pro Helvetia's biggest potential administrative shake-up since it was created in 1939, its Board of Trustees gave the green light to the "PH 2500" project and rejected the more ambitious "New Beginning" alternative.

Reforms to the institution include a restructuring of the board which must be completed by the end of 2001. Other reforms will be overseen by an outside body.

The trustees named François Wasserfallen, who is personal advisor to the interior minister, Ruth Dreifuss as an assistant director.

Two members of the board resigned with immediate effect after the decision not to introduce radical reforms.

The foundation's pro-reform president, Yvette Jaggi, had wanted the board to delegate some of its decision-making powers to lower levels of management and concentrate more on the funding of projects.

Critics of Pro Helvetia's current structure say too much money is spent on running the organisation. They point out that of the SFr30 million it receives annually from the federal government, only two-thirds goes directly to artistic and cultural projects.

At present, the allocation of a grant as small as SFr300 has to be considered by the board, whose members are paid SFr150 an hour. Another criticism has been that there is a lack of clarity in the sharing out of responsibilities between the Federal Culture Office and Pro Helvetia.

In 1999, the foundation approved 2,000 of the 3,600 applications it received from groups and individuals for projects involving the arts.

swissinfo with agencies

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