A joint initiative of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and the Swiss Polar Institute

PolARTS projects funded in 2020 and 2022

The call for proposals 2023 opens on 2 October. The deadline for submission is on 31 January 2024 at 5:00 pm Swiss time. All application documents must be uploaded through the online application form. Please use the provided templates (application form A and B) to submit a proposal.

PolARTS is a joint initiative by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) to encourage exchange and to foster collaboration between art and science. The PolARTS initiative opens a space for new collaborative and explorative practices and supports the processes of transdisciplinary cooperation.


This call for proposals is aimed at artists and scientists who are interested in a collaboration. The PolARTS initiative supports up to three tandems composed of an artist and a polar scientist over a period of 12 to 18 months. The tandems will meet on a regular basis on different sites (laboratories, studios, scientific and artistic events, gatherings, etc.) and exchange information on their research, professional activities, career perspectives, work backgrounds, etc. The focus of PolARTS lies on exchanges and exploratory processes rather than tangible outputs.
Artists and scientists who are interested in forming a tandem are requested to propose a collaborative process over a period of approximately 12 to 18 months, defining format, objectives, and motivation. The tandem’s proposal must engage with topics and research linked to polar regions (the Arctic or Antarctic) or to remote high-altitude regions, such as the Andes or the Himalaya.


A tandem must be composed of one scientist and one artist.
The PolARTS initiative encourages the participation of scientists who meet the following criteria:

  • Level of seniority from PhD students onwards
  • Actively working on polar topics, including research from fields considered “non-typical” for polar sciences (e.g. engineering, material sciences, medicine, humanities, social sciences, etc.)
  • Affiliated to a Swiss public research institution
  • No previous funding by PolARTS

The PolARTS initiative encourages the participation of artists who meet the following criteria:

  • Convincing track record of professional artistic practice
  • Holding Swiss nationality or active in the Swiss artistic scene
  • Active in any of the disciplines supported by Pro Helvetia (Design, Interactive Media, Literature, Music, Performing Arts, Visual Arts)
  • No previous funding by PolARTS

The proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Connection between arts and science
    How does this project connect scientific and artistic research?
  • Benefits to the tandem partners
    What added value would this joint research bring to both tandem partners?
  • Transdisciplinarity of the proposal
    How does the proposal address the challenge of disciplinary boundaries, and does it generate synergies?
  • Relevance and originality of the proposal
    What are the relevant and original aspects of the proposals in an artistic and scientific context?


In addition, the artist can request support for a fieldtrip to polar regions or remote high-altitude areas. Such a fieldtrip should take place in the framework of the scientist tandem partner’s fieldwork (i.e. the artist would accompany the scientist and/or their team on already planned fieldwork). Undertaking a fieldtrip is optional. The timeframe for undertaking a fieldtrip is June 2024 until the end of the foreseen duration of the tandem (latest November 2025).
Artists who want to apply for support for a fieldtrip must submit a separate proposal (application form B). This proposal can be handed in at the latest two months prior to the proposed fieldtrip but can already be foreseen at the stage of the original proposal.


PolARTS grants funding to each tandem, which includes the following support:

  • Living expenses (artist only): up to 7’000 CHF
    Compensation will be paid to the artist for every day dedicated to the activities of the tandem, on a self-defined per diem basis (minimum of 12 half days are required). The artist can claim this support only under the condition of self-employment while working within the framework of the tandem.
  • Operational costs of the tandem (both artist and scientist): up to 5’500 CHF
    This, for instance, includes the transport costs of the tandem partners, or the purchase of consumables needed for scientific or artistic work (scientific experiments, material for creative activities, etc.).
  • Field trip to the polar regions, upon separate application (artist only): up to 10’000 CHF
    Funding for the field trip will be granted based on a separate budget. The exact sum of the funding will be defined in proportion to the size of the fieldtrip.
  • Field trip coordination fee: up to 3’000 CHF
    This compensation is intended for the scientific unit responsible for organising the field trip in which the artist is participating.


The selected tandem of the PolARTS programme will be expected to:

  • Engage in research based on the submitted proposal
  • Schedule and attend regular meetings and exchanges with their respective tandem partners
  • Participate in three PolARTS workshops organised by Pro Helvetia and SPI
  • Submit a brief report at the end of the tandem collaboration