Can’t go out? Donate instead!

Clubs have been closed and dancing banned for some time, and now the whole cultural scene is being hit hard by the tightening of Covid-19 restrictions. Bars are also struggling to survive with the introduction of a curfew from 7 pm. Covid-19 support has been extended, but some businesses and nightlife operators could still receive little or no financial assistance. In response to this dire situation, Zurich’s nightlife sector has come together to launch a fundraising campaign called ‘Ausgeben statt Ausgehen’ – encouraging people to donate money instead of going out.

Recent decisions by the canton of Zurich and the federal government have exacerbated the situation for Zurich’s nightlife and cultural operators. Now it is not only clubs that are affected, but also cinemas, theatres and bars, which have to close at 7 pm. Once again, politicians have failed to provide clarity. Instead of totally closing down these businesses and paying them compensation, they are progressively introducing stricter measures that threaten their very survival. This will lead to a flood of insolvencies because it is still unclear who is eligible for Covid-19 hardship payments, from what date, and how to go about claiming them.

Lives and livelihoods are at stake.

Zurich’s bars were already struggling, but now the situation is even worse. The lockdown measures themselves are understandable – after all, this epidemiological crisis has to be managed – but the political tragedy is playing out in the federal and cantonal governments. Of course, politicians are trying to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but they are also putting many businesses and jobs at risk.

There is a strong sense of solidarity.

Zurich’s nightlife scene is certainly in a critical situation, but there is a glimmer of hope. There is a strong sense of solidarity on all sides, and Zurich’s players are pulling together more than ever before. There is bound to be hardship, regardless of any support provided by the canton and the steps taken by the businesses themselves. That’s why Zurich’s nightlife operators have come together under the auspices of the Bar & Club Commission to launch the ‘Ausgeben statt Ausgehen’ fundraising campaign with the support of the agency The campaign aims to provide financial assistance where needed, but also to look to the future and help companies to attract vital investment.


There are three ways to donate, depending on the donor’s preferences. They can choose whether their money goes to the Zurich Night Culture Fund, the Bar & Club Commission, or is shared between the two. And because solidarity is essential in the era of Covid-19, 5% of the campaign donations will go to the Coronavirus Switzerland campaign run by Swiss Solidarity. Another 5% goes to Essen für Alle, a food charity set up by the Autonomous School Zurich and the Pfarrer Sieber Foundation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown even the most diehard sceptics why Zurich’s nightlife operators need a strong lobby in the form of the Bar & Club Commission. Its members need a strong association to provide the advice they need and give them a voice in political and public life.


The pandemic has brought the Zurich Bar & Club Commission a mountain of extra work in terms of lobbying, media work and providing its members with information and advice. The fundraising income earmarked for the BCC will initially cover the deficit resulting from the coronavirus. The remaining income will be used to administer the Night Culture Fund, the association, cover future expenses caused by Covid-19, and to continue building the association.

The Bar & Club Commission co-founded the fundraising campaign.

The new Zurich Night Culture Fund is a funding instrument that aims to support local nightlife going forward. The funds will be allocated according to specific categories to help nightlife businesses and initiatives based in the city of Zurich and individuals who live in the canton of Zurich. Funds are allocated according to a set of rules and the final decision made by an independent committee. This committee is made up of people from the culture, nightlife and beverage sectors. They are all independent, meaning they do not run their own businesses or hold a managerial position in one of the operations that may be eligible for funding.


In emergency situations like the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Fund’s resources can be made available in the form of grants to provide temporary liquidity. They do not have to be repaid, but proof of hardship must be provided. The business must credibly demonstrate what actions it has taken to ensure liquidity and prove that it is viable. Liabilities will only be assumed if they demonstrably place a business in financial distress. These may include outstanding invoices from artists, freelancers, suppliers, insurance premiums or social security contributions.

There is an urgent need to invest in Zurich’s nightlife.

The Night Culture Fund’s money will be used to promote investment, even once the pandemic is over. This will involve providing businesses with funding to work on their own projects relating to innovation and sustainability, such as soundproofing buildings and energy-saving refurbishments. In each case, the funding will constitute a maximum of 50% of the investment amount. It is also possible that co-financing will be provided for investing in Covid-19 mitigation measures, such as improved ventilation.


The Night Culture Fund will also provide funding for larger-scale projects, such as initiatives to promote Zurich as one of Europe’s top destinations for nightlife and culture. In terms of the pandemic, it is also possible that the Fund could invest in public health measures such as purchasing face coverings. These larger-scale projects could receive up to 100% funding at the outset if it is likely that the project could be self-supporting at a later stage or will generate no follow-up costs.

The forward-looking nature of the Zurich Night Culture Fund is vital for providing long-term support. Even if things return to normal, the crisis will continue for the nightlife sector. Without support, the debt that is piling up now could lead to investment being halted. But investment is urgently needed to ensure Zurich remains an attractive city for nightlife.

Now lovers of Zurich’s nightlife scene have a chance to show their solidarity by helping with the fundraising effort. They can either make a donation or help publicise the fundraising campaign. Because one thing is clear: the more money we raise now, the brighter the future will be for Zurich’s nightlife sector.