Criteria for funding – What can cultural funding achieve in the fight against discrimination? – Culture


On January 8th, the anti-discrimination clause was presented in Berlin. Anyone who wants to receive cultural funding in the future must speak out against anti-Semitism. How is this handled in Switzerland?

What is the debate about? In the future, Berlin cultural workers will only receive funding from the state if they sign the anti-discrimination clause and thereby declare their opposition to anti-Semitism. In an open letter they express their anger about this and speak of a “compulsory confession”. What is particularly controversial is the definition of anti-Semitism that the clause refers to.

How is anti-Semitism defined? In 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) a definition was drawn up for anti-Semitism. This has been recognized in Switzerland – the Swiss Association of Israelite Communities is also committed to it and recommends it to organizations. “The IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism essentially states that anti-Semitism combines a certain perception of Jews, which can be expressed as hatred towards Jews,” explains its general secretary Jonathan Kreutner. Examples are also shown that explain what can be understood as anti-Semitism.

What do cultural workers criticize about the new clause? The main criticism is that there is a lot of room for interpretation as to what can and cannot be viewed as anti-Semitic. Kreutner sees the definition of the Berlin Clause more as a guide that cannot be applied to every individual case. Kreutner explains that you have to examine every case of anti-Semitism with a sense of proportion: “Not everything is always clear, but in many cases you can apply the definition in the clause.”

Are there already anti-discrimination criteria in the area of ​​cultural funding in Switzerland? The Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia processes 6,000 applications for cultural funding every year. With the “Anti-Harassment Policy”, the foundation has created guidelines for a safe working environment that are based on the Swiss Federal Constitution. A ban on discrimination is anchored in the constitution.

What is this policy supposed to achieve? The aim of the policy is to educate and create awareness, explains Pro Helvetia director Philippe Bischoff. That also works, says Bischoff. However, it is clear that such an issue cannot be resolved overnight. Changes must, above all, be thought of in the long term. In principle, Pro Helvetia could also imagine tightening the requirements for cultural funding. However, there is currently no need for this in Switzerland.

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