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Open Call

Folding the Axis: Seeking New Cultural Exchange Formats

Call for Applications

Apply now

For the past ten years, Pro Helvetia Shanghai has been dedicated to supporting and promoting Swiss art and culture in China. The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically reduced mobility and hindered the connection and exchange with art practitioners from other corners of the world. In this unprecedented time, the rules of the cultural sector are tested, and art activities of the year being shelved. The Swiss Arts Council would like to open a channel to understand the impact on and collect the needs of the local art scene whose members are actively seeking innovative strategies to bridge the distance and meaningfully change the traditional mechanisms of communication. Especially welcome are ideas that help sustain conversation in the times of pervading immobility, but also encourage professional exchanges and knowledge sharing geared towards the future.


  • Open to applicants from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan.
  • Open to all disciplines that are supported by Pro Helvetia: visual arts, design, interactive media, music, dance, theatre, literature, and interdisciplinary projects.
  • The applicant could be an individual artist or a collective, an art and cultural practitioner, or an arts organization.


  • New formats of exchange, international networks or platforms, experimental forms of artistic collaboration.
  • Could either be a wholly new idea, or a creative adaptation of an existing format. Not eligible are projects exclusively aimed at providing free access of a cultural production.
  • Should have a time-frame and reasonably defined budget. Pro Helvetia Shanghai holds the right to evaluate whether the project is carried out with benevolence and due effort.
  • The project does not necessarily need to be tied to a direct outcome or have Swiss participants, but the proposal should clearly illustrate how it will contribute to the future exchange and collaboration between the Swiss and Chinese cultural scenes and art practitioners.
  • Applicants must apply all recommended Covid-19 safety procedures for the safety of all artists and public involved in the project.

What we can offer

  • Each project up to CHF 8,000 of funding.
  • If needed, Pro Helvetia Shanghai can help connect artists and arts practitioners to a network of professionals in the local region and Switzerland, and give advices where needed during different stages of the project.

Application process

  • Apply via this link. Applications must be written in English.
  • The submission must include a PDF proposal (mails or CDs will not be accepted) describing your concept, time-frame, and implementation of the project.
  • A list of partners expected to be involved in facilitating this project.
  • CV and/or portfolio listing your qualifications or providing information about your organization.
  • A cost breakdown and financing plan including specifications of the amount requested from Pro Helvetia Shanghai.
  • Additional documents that may further illustrate your idea in digital format.

Call open until:

  • There are two application periods for the call. First period: 12 June – 15 August 2020;
    Second period: 16 August – 16 October 2020.
  • The project should be completed no later than 30 June 2021.

For any inquiries please contact shanghai@prohelvetia.cn.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Eligibility related questions

I am not a Chinese passport holder, am I eligible to apply?

None-Chinese artists are eligible to apply as long as they are recognized as active practitioners in the Chinese art scene for a few years.

I am not based in China, am I eligible?

As long as you are recognized as an active practitioner in the Chinese art scene, even if you are not based in China, you may apply.

Is it better to apply from an institution or as an individual/ art collective?

It doesn’t matter, both institutions and individuals/ collectives are eligible.

Can a person submit more than one application for the grant?

Yes, you can submit more than one application for the grant, but the proposals need to be different.

2. Projects related questions

My project does not have a Swiss partner or link, can I still apply?

Yes, you can still apply, but your proposal needs to outline in which ways the project can be developed in order to encourage exchange and collaboration between the Swiss and Chinese artists and artistic scenes in the future.

What are the eligible disciplines that “Folding the Axis” supports?

Visual arts, design, interactive media (including games), music, dance, theatre, literature, and interdisciplinary projects.

What are the recommended COVID-19 safety procedures?

COVID-19 safety precautions are consistently updated by WHO and the Chinese government, so please check it before any interaction takes place in the project.

Does the project topic have to be related to COVID-19?

No, creative processes are not expected to reflect on the current COVID-19 situation.

Can I apply with a project I have already started?

Yes, if it’s a long-term project carried out in different stages.

Why is the open call divided into two deadlines?

We have set up two application periods:

First period: 12 June – 15 August 2020;
Second period: 16 August – 16 October 2020.

We encourage applicants who wish to start their projects early to apply before the first deadline, in order to get into the review process early.

3. Expenses related questions:

Do I have to submit a detailed budget for my project?

Yes, a detailed budget is required.

4. Technical questions

Can I fill-in my application in Chinese?

Unfortunately, we only accept applications in English.

Do I have to include all the project participants’ names in my application or mine would be enough?

Yes, their information must be added to your application.

Can I send my application and the supporting documents by e-mail or by mail?

No, we only accept applications through our official platform via this link. You need to click the link directly instead of typing out the address.


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