The ZKB Prizes

The ZKB Audience Prize CHF 10,000.-

Two years ago, the Zürcher Kantonalbank successfully launched the ZKB Audience Prize of 10 000 Swiss Francs. Ever since, both the expert jury and the audience have the opportunity to cast their vote for productions nominated for the ZKB Patronage and the ZKB Acknowledgement Prize. The spectators at those shows are handed out a ballot on which they can rate what they have seen. While in 2016, the Australian acrobatic company Gravity & Other Myths clearly won the audience’s approval, the 2017 prize, following a head-to-head race, went to the Mexican performer Lukas Avendaño for his touching solo «No soy persona. Soy mariposa».

Seize the opportunity again this year and cast your vote for one of the nominated productions. This is a winwin situation as not only young, deserving artists can benefit from this, but you can too. All voters automatically enter a raffle for one of the following three prizes :

  • a ZKB savings account with a credit of 1000 Swiss Francs
  • a VIP package for two persons for the award ceremony and tickets for a performance
  • and a dinner voucher worth 200 Swiss Francs for the restaurant L’Andis at the festival

The ZKB Patronage Prize CHF 30,000.-

The ZKB Patronage Prize is awarded annually to an artist or a company working in independent theatre, dance theatre or performance art, who have distinguished themselves and shown innovation in the creation of new work. The aim of this prize is to support the chosen recipient in their future projects. The criteria for candidates is that the significant work for which the award is actually given has had its premiere within the past three years.

The festival board nominates five to seven productions from the festival’s current programme. Precedence is given to artists who the board feel have yet to receive a level of public recognition that is commensurate with their achievements. Former winners of the prize are excluded from nomination.

The ZKB Acknowledgment Prize CHF 5000.-

The Acknowledgment Prize allows for additional recognition and support of a nominee whose work is considered to be outstanding. It is awarded to a company or an artist for extraordinary achievement in such areas as choreography, dramaturgy, audience participation or acting.

Since 2012 all productions presented in «Short Pieces» have been nominated for the Acknowledgment Prize, unless the artists have not previously been nominated for the ZKB Acknowledgment Prize.


An independent jury, consisting of five experts, decides on awarding the prizes. The jury panel is chosen by the festival management and is presided by one of its members. This person is not entitled to vote. The jury consultations are not public; the decision for the awarded production is substantiated. The jury’s decisions are announced on the last weekende of the festival at the occasion of an award ceremony.


(*1993) Cultural manager. Since 2016, executive manager and assistant curator of D-CAF Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival in Cairo, the only international multidisciplinary cultural festival in Egypt.


(*1989) Dance and theatre theorist and dramaturge. Assistant since 2017 at the Institute for Theatre Studies, University of Berne, with a focus on dance.


(*1977) Theatre scholar and journalist. Since 2015, manager of Scene/Asia Project, a platform for Asian performing arts. Consultant of the Asia programme of Spielart Festival 2017 in Munich.


(*1970) Curator, dramaturge and scout for the performing arts. Since 2015, curator of international projects for the platform Movimento Sur in Chile. Curator of the international, transdisciplinary festival Verão Azul 2018 in Portugal.


(*1987) Director, arts activist and project manager. Founding member of the transdisciplinary artist collective Neue Dringlichkeit. Participant at the 2015 «watch&talk» programme. From 2015 to 2017, co-curator of the Zentralbühne at the Zürcher Theater Spektakel.

The idea

During the run-up to the 1996 festival, Markus Luchsinger, artistic director of the festival from 1990 to 2001, who passed away untimely last summer, approached the Zürcher Kantonalbank, one of the festival’s main sponsors, with the idea of a patronage prize. He wasn’t thinking of an award for lifetime achievement or special accomplishment. Instead he had focused on recognition of a young, innovative, hitherto little-known individual or company. A substantial prize would be awarded annually at the festival. This would represent a significant financial contribution towards future productions involving the prize-winner. Briefly, it was to be a prize with long-term effects.

Markus Luchsinger’s proposal resonated ideally with the ZKB’s idea of sustainable cultural commitment. The criteria for nomination, the jury board and the award ceremony were discussed fruitfully with the result that the ZKB Patronage Prize of 20'000 Swiss Francs (today 30'000 Swiss Francs) was awarded that very year at the festival.

Today we look back with joy, gratefulness and pride. There is continuity: A long-term cultural commitment such as the ZKB Patronage Prize is not to be taken for granted: it enables the festival board to develop a perspective for the promotion of young talent in a way that reaches beyond the annual festival itself. In addition there is sustainability: The list of former prize-winners confirms that the prize has fulfilled its purpose: Stefan Pucher, 400asa, Sarah Michelson, The Living Dance Studio, 600 HIGHWAYMEN, Eisa Jocson, Omar Abusaada & Mohammad al Attar have all triumphed with their subsequent artistic creations and have justified the faith invested in them. Festival audiences were equally given an opportunity to see that the original productions were not a flash in the pan as the majority of prizewinners returned to the festival with new productions.

And finally there is the impact: The Patronage Prize has added profile to the festival program as the denotation «nominated for the ZKB Patronage Prize» has become synonymous with riveting productions of promising young artists. In this spirit, the ZKB and the festival board invite you to give the nominees your special attention. They deserve it.

Award Ceremony 2018

The award ceremony takes place on Saturday 1 September. The prizes will be handed over by Corine Mauch, City Mayor, and Dr. János Blum, presidium member of the Zürcher Kantonalbank. The event is moderated by the Swiss actress Tuna Beren. In addition to the prize money, the winners will receive a bronze sculpture by Swiss artist Max Grüter, which symbolises the Zürcher Kantonalbank’s cultural commitment.

Former Prize Winners


Patronage Prize: Wojtek Ziemilski & Nowy Teatr, Poland: Jeden gest (One Gesture)
Acknowledgement Prize: Fatoumata Bagayoko, Mali: Fatou t'as tout fait
Audience Prize: Lukas Avendaño, Mexico: No soy persona. Soy mariposa


Patronage Prize: Omar Abusaada & Mohammad Al Attar, Syria: While I Was Waiting
Acknowledgement Prize: Sorour Darabi, Iran: Farci.e
Audience Prize: Gravity & Other Myths, Australia: A Simple Space


Patronage Prize: 600 HIGHWAYMEN, USA: Employee of the Year
Acknowledgement Prize: Mallika Taneja, India: Thoda Dhyan Se (Be careful)

For a complete list of prize winners 1996–2017 please check here