Federal Office of Culture

The Federal Office of Culture (FOC) is an administrative unit of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, based in Bern, Switzerland. The agency has two extensive areas of responsibility: promoting Swiss culture and preserving the country’s cultural heritage. In 2014, its total budget was close to 170 million francs. The FOC promotes culture in the fields of literature, theatre, dance, music, film, the visual arts and design. It helps preserve the cultural heritage by supporting the protection of monuments and archeological research, and it also maintains valuable collections, libraries, archives, and museums.

Federal Office of Culture
(in German) Bundesamt für Kultur
(in French) Office fédéral de la culture
(in Italian) Ufficio federale della cultura
(in Romansh) Uffizi federal da cultura
Agency overview
JurisdictionFederal administration of Switzerland
Minister responsible
Parent agencyFederal Department of Home Affairs

From 2005 to 2013, Jean-Frédéric Jauslin was director of the Federal Office of Culture. His successor, as of 1 November 2013, is Isabelle Chassot.


The Federal Office of Culture was established in 1975 as a simple administrative service to coordinate cultural activities. The Clottu-Report, commissioned by the Federal Department of Home Affairs and published in the same year, inventoried Switzerland’s cultural tools and assets and presented proposals for a cultural policy. The report recommended the creation of a new article in the constitution to define the authority of the federal government in the cultural domain. However, it was not until 1999, after a series of difficult referendums and in the context of the total revision of the Federal Constitution that the role of the federal government in arts and culture was inscribed in the constitution (Art 69 FC). To implement this "Culture Article", as it came to be known, the FOC drafted a Law for the Promotion of Culture. It was adopted by parliament on 11 December 2009, and became effective on 1 January 2012.

The cultural role of the federal government is defined in articles 69, 70, and 71 of the Federal Constitution.[1]

Whereas cultural affairs are generally the responsibility of the cantons (article 1 of the Federal Constitution), the federal government "may support cultural efforts of nationwide interest and promote art and music, especially in the field of education" (article 69). In doing so the federal government always takes into consideration the "cultural and linguistic diversity of the country" (article 69). The federal government is responsible for film (article 71) and the preservation and promotion of multilingualism (article 70). In the public interest the federal authorities also preserve and protect "landscapes, the overall appearance of towns or villages, historic sites, as well as natural and cultural monuments" (article).


The Federal Office of Culture is divided into two sections which disseminate culture and promote culture, respectively. The organization chart[2] shows the following internal departments:

  • Preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage
  • Cultural production and cultural diversity
    • Culture and society
    • Cultural production
    • Film

See also


  1. Federal Constitution
  2. organization chart


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