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*** 23. April 2021 ***

In September 2020 we organized the first exchange in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. You can find a summary of the event on the SAY HI! website. In April 2021 we invited a group of 35 people to meet digitally and pick up where we left off. The afternoon started out with several input-speeches, followed by discussions in different smaller groups and further time for exchange. The following topics were the basis of the discussions:

  • How can we present the field of current music in a meaningful way in the context of the Swiss Music Prize? What are the most important topics that one would like to communicate there? Is there a need for a think tank (as in 2018 within the framework of Label Suisse organized by FOC & Pro Helvetia), where we can exchange ideas with people from culture, society and politics with input speeches and discussions in an official setting?

  • How could one initiate a bottom up networking platform (like RFV Basel, FCMA, Other Music Luzern) for the Italian speaking part of Switzerland where the important regional and national associations, institutions, foundations and the political side can participate financially and ideally. This would be important to achieve more visibility and equal opportunities and thus ensure a sustainable development of current musical trends also in the Italian part of Switzerland.

Our goal was to determine a focus point for an exchange originally planned within the framework of the Swiss Music Prize in Lugano in September 2021. Unfortunately, due to the current pandemic situation as well as organizational uncertainty, we had to postpone the event. We are looking at organizing a further exchange in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland in 2022, and hope the inputs concerning the SMP can still be of use. There were many interesting inputs given at this digital edition of SAY HI! which we would like to share with you. Here is an overview of some of the notes that were made. We would like to thank everyone who participated for their contribution and time.

Political Awareness

Many politicians in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland do not even know that there are other styles of music besides classical music and conventional jazz. By not including the other styles in their considerations they aren’t giving enough attention to the younger generations.

In the Italian speaking part of Switzerland there is a lack of awareness for cultural support and promotion. If we want movement this would require a drastic change in awareness. The cultural scene needs to put pressure on the key players in local politics, then the administration will have to move.

It would be interesting to bring together politicians from other cantons with a lot of experience in cultural funding with politicians from Ticino and let them exchange.

The situation in Ticino is reminiscent of Helvetiarockt. They had an extremely hard start and established themselves within 10 years. Even if it is not the same topic, Helvetiarockt could be an inspiration. It is important to get involved in politics and convince them.

Associations should put their heads together to figure out what they want to express to the political side; it is true that it has to come from the Ticinese scene itself, but external help is probably necessary as it needs resources. Fabio Pinto has a 15% mandate from Sonart; more resources will be needed for sure, maybe m4music, Petzi, Pro Helvetia, others?

Sophie Hunger's prize of 100'000 CHF at SMP was quite controversial. For example, compared to classical musicians who have always been dependent on subsidies. In classical music it is accepted that musicians are paid via subsidies whereas in popular music, there is the expectation that people should funktion economically.

The different levels need to meet

In 2018, there was a think tank organized by the BAK and Pro Helvetia as part of the Swiss Music Awards. This was interesting.

One of the main outcomes of "Say Ciao" in the Blenio Valley in September 2020 was that an exchange between the musicians in Ticino, but also beyond the cantonal borders is missing. This would be a chance at the SMP to organize meetings and gatherings between the scenes, in which also politicians and representatives of the authorities can participate.

At the SMP, a panel discussion should be organized regularly with the politicians and people from the administration involved. This would have to be the starting point of a discussion with people involved.

What is really important, for exchange between all people involved (musicians, festivals, radios etc.), is that it is not separated. You have to come together. Not just the older cultural workers, like here, but open up to younger generations. New formats. How, where can you do that? Mostly we talk to the people we know does e.g. a Tik Tok Artist work today?

IG Musik Basel has had good experiences talking to classical musicians. They agree that the current situation is unfair.

The different scenes within Ticino have to come together for the first time in order to work together and create pressure and build up a network.

Two contact groups that absolutely must be reached: The young creative scene and politicians.

The role of the SMP

It is important to be seen and heard at the SMP. If you don't show up and are afraid to stand up and make your point, it's a missed opportunity. The SMP jury also has a hard time including pop music in the awards, which is another sign that it should be promoted more - we need a voice.

Right now, the SMP is all about giving an award. However, just awarding prizes to individual musicians is also criticized, as it can give a false impression that musicians are doing well financially. It ignores the precarious conditions many musicians have to work under, before they can perhaps receive such a prize. The SMP seems to be interested in further developing its platform to open up also for a sustainable exchange between musicians and political lobby.

Who and what is the Swiss Italian speaking scene?

Fabio Pinto (responsible at SONART for Italian speaking Switzerland) is working on a survey of the scene to get an overview. The main problem is that there is no club where a scene can form.

It was also discussed that coworking and cultural places like Neubad Lucerne or Progr Bern would help the current music scene to have a headquarters, where they can exchange and interact with like-minded people and where people from the outside can feel the importance and power of independent, creative work. This is certainly an issue for the urban and economic development department in any region.

It is necessary to involve people who are not necessarily directly involved in cultural work, and thus make them aware of culture. For example, teachers. Culture is much more than just listening to music. Culture is education and politics.

There is also a lack of role models. There is a lack of awareness that being a musician is a profession. There are no role models, such as a club / cultural institution that cooperates with the city or canton to promote the current music scene in a meaningful way.


Julia Foster, Fri-Son

Giadia Marsadri, Schweizer Musikpreise

Damiano Merzari, Musiker / Buskers Lugano / Pussywarmers

Philipp Schnyder, m4music Festival / Migros Kulturprozent

Yvonne Meier, Helvetiarockt

Gian-Andrea Costa, Musiker / RSI

Stoph Ruckli, Musiker / Other Music Luzern

Johannes Rühl Kurator, Jury Schweizer Musikpreise

Jean Zuber, Swiss Music Export

Sandro Bernasconi, Kaserne Basel

Nik Fischer, Klangwelt Toggenburg / Glad we met

Fabio Pinto, Musiker (Monte Mai) / Sonart

Niklaus Riegg, Popkredit Zürich

Alain Schnetz, RFV Basel

Muriel Ryhner, Musikerin / Helvetiarockt

Dominika Jarotta, B-Sides / Dampfzentrale Bern

Christoph Trummer, Musiker / Sonart

Cegiu Voser, Musikerin / Other Music Luzern

Johannes Rickli, IG Kultur Ost / Palace St. Gallen

Barbara Lehnhoff, Musikerin / On the Camper Records

Marcel Bieri, SAY HI! / B-Sides Festival

Jonatan Niedrig, Petzi

Philippe Weizenegger, B-Sides / Neubad

Fabienne Schmucki, Irascible / IndieSuisse

Daniel Fontana, Bad Bonn

Roberto Haçaturyan, Musiker / Artlink

Albane Schlechten, FCMA

Fabio Besomi, Musiker (Monte Mai)

Simone Bernadoni, Musiker / Focciamo la corte / Bitter Moon

Laurence Desarzens, Swiss Music Export / Jury SMP

Sevi Landold, Musiker / former IG Musik Basel

Zeno Gabaglio, Musiker / Suisa

Marlon McNeill, Musiker / IndieSuisse / A Tree in a Field

Jennifer Jans, SAY HI! / B-Sides Festival



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