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EACEA National Policies Platform


8. Creativity and Culture

8.4 Promoting culture and cultural participation

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Reducing obstacles to young people's access to culture
  2. Disseminating information on cultural opportunities
  3. Knowledge of cultural heritage amongst young people

Reducing obstacles to young people's access to culture

Legal basis for policies

Article 1 of Book 8 of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch – Kinder- und Jugendhilfe, SGB VIII), also known as the Child and Youth Services Act (Kinder- und Jugendhilfegesetz, KJHG), states that every young person has a right to cultivate their personal development and to develop into a responsible and socially competent individual. In addition to the responsibility of parents, it emphasises the responsibility of the state: Under Article 1 (3), child and youth services are required to implement the law in accordance with paragraph 1 in particular by promoting the personal and social development of young people and helping to prevent or break down barriers. SGB VIII identifies cultural youth education in Article 11 (3) as a key focus of youth work and a specific service to be provided by child and youth services. SGB VIII is the legal basis in Germany for child and youth activities by the government, the federal states, towns/cities and districts and for the structure of child and youth services.


The key programmes for promoting cultural participation and cultural education also strive to bring about structural change (institutions, organisations) and to support programmes for cultural education for children and young people at federal (national), state and community level. The programmes usually offer funding for the initiation of alliances, as well as organisational work and training and development for full-time and volunteer staff:

National (Bund) level
  • As the federal agency with supreme authority, the Federal Youth Ministry (Bundesjugendministerium) encourages activities by child and youth services and offers funding provided they are of supra-regional importance and cannot be funded effectively by the federal state alone. The Federal Youth Ministry does this on the basis of the Child and Youth Plan of the Federal Government (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes, KJP), prior to 1994 known as the National Youth Plan (Bundesjugendplan) adopted in 1950 (cf. BMFSFJ 2016). KJP is the central funding instrument for child and youth services at federal (national) level and has the biggest budget of all of the Federal Youth Ministry’s funding initiatives. One area of child and youth services covered by the Plan refers to cultural education in accordance with Article 11 of Book 8 of the Social Code – Child and Youth Services (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch – Kinder- und Jugendhilfe, SGB VIII).
  • The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) has been supporting local education alliances across Germany since 2013 through its Culture builds strength. Alliances for education (Kultur macht stark – Bündnisse für Bildung) funding programme. Under such alliances, various local stakeholders (music groups, sports clubs, foundations, libraries, drama and youth groups, schools/child day care centres, etc.) join forces to provide extracurricular programmes in various areas of cultural education to educationally disadvantaged children. The programme aims to reach educationally disadvantaged families and provide them with further opportunities for education, as well as to establish a strong local network of education stakeholders and encourage civic engagement in the field of (cultural) education. As BMBF has no responsibility for schools themselves, the programme is implemented by national associations and initiatives for extracurricular education. On 30 July 2021 the new funding rules were published on support for extracurricular cultural education projects for children and adolescents from 2023.
  • The Minister of State for Culture (Kulturstaatsministerium) provides funding through the cultural education (Kulturelle Vermittlung) programme for “pilot projects that can contribute to greater diversity in cultural institutions, across personnel, programmes and the public alike”. The goal is to reach people who previously seldom or never made use of cultural offerings, irrespective of their age, social background or ethnicity. Funding of up to 300,000 euros per measure for up to four years is awarded to pilot projects with participatory formats. The programme is part of regular funding for state-funded institutions and memorial sites, and aims to establish greater diversity across audiences, staffing and programmes. Ultimately, the goal is, “to support culture ‘for all’ – and, increasingly, culture ‘with all’ and ‘by all’”.
  • The action programme to help young people catch up after Covid-19, “Aufholen nach Corona für Kinder und Jugendliche”, aims to safeguard a carefree upbringing for young people and help them to catch up on lost schooling and social difficulties brought about by the pandemic. The federal government is making 2 billion euros available under the programme. Measures range from language skills-oriented child day care centres and the Federal Foundation for Early Childhood Intervention (Bundesstiftung Frühe Hilfen), to topping up the Federal Child and Youth Plan budget, paying out financial assistance for children in the form of the “Kinderfreizeitbonus”, setting up family holiday facilities, and providing leisure activities for children and adolescents. The programme also provides funding for social work and volunteering schemes. The Länder are responsible for implementing a portion of the measures. To this end, the Federation waives an additional portion of VAT for the Länder, and in return the Länder commit to implementing the measures.
  • Cultural education institutions and organisations, including youth art schools, youth circuses, media workshops, drama and dance groups etc., organise and host cultural youth exchange schemes. They put on around 100 activities for some 2,000 participants every year, with support from organisations such as the international youth culture service (JugendkulturService International) of the German Federation for Cultural Youth Education (Bundesvereinigung Kulturelle Kinder- und Jugendbildung, BKJ), and with funding from the Federal Youth Ministry (Bundesjugendministerium, BMFSFJ), the Foundation for German-Russian Youth Exchange (Stiftung Deutsch-Russischer Jugendaustausch) and both the Franco-German Youth Office (Deutsch-Französisches Jugendwerk, DFJW) and the German-Polish Youth Office (Deutsch-Polnisches Jugendwerk, DPJW). Other specialist organisations, especially those devoted to education in music, act as nationally recognised central bodies and also coordinate financial funding for cultural youth exchanges.

Federal state (Länder) and community (Kommune) level

Extracurricular cultural education is also funded at federal state and community level as part of basic child and youth work in accordance with SGB VIII. The budgets are determined largely by the state youth (funding) plans (Landesjugendpläne) and municipal funding plans for children and young people. Special programmes are also set up in the federal states depending on demand. Examples at federal state level:


  • The Cultural Education Project Fund (Kubinaut – Berliner Projektfonds Kulturelle Bildung) in Berlin has a budget of around at least 2.9 million euros which goes to support cultural projects with the active participation of children, adolescents and young adults up to the age of 27. Eligible projects must take an artistic, educational and participatory approach to tackling socially relevant issues and deal with the realities and issues facing young people. Since 2008, Kubinaut has completed over 2,700 projects involving 200,000 young people in more than 1,500 schools, child day care centres and child and youth facilities. To be considered for funding, projects must be a collaboration between at least one partner from the arts/culture and at least one partner from education and/or youth services.
  • The state funding initiative for cultural education and participation (Landesförderprogramm kulturelle Bildung und Partizipation) in Brandenburg is for local communities as well as child day care centres, schools, cultural institutions, clubs and associations with projects to bring access to cultural education to the people of Brandenburg, especially projects tackling intercultural diversity and integration. A minimum of 2,500 euros in funding is provided for one-year projects, while multi-year structure-building activities receive around 20,000 euros per year. The funding initiative is coordinated by the Brandenburg platform for cultural education (Kulturelle Bildung Brandenburg), with decisions on applications made by an independent panel of judges comprising representatives from the fields of cultural education and integration.
  • Culture case (Kulturkoffer) (Hesse): The Hessian State Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts (Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst, HMWK) is providing funding via this pilot project to broaden the cultural education landscape in Hesse. Funded by HMWK, the project aims to give all children and young people in the state of Hesse access to art and culture, irrespective of their background, location or environment. Kulturkoffer aims to benefit in particular young people aged from 10 to 16 who live in rural areas, socially vulnerable areas or in underdeveloped city districts and who until now have only had limited or no access to art and culture. The project promises greater opportunities for participation and and offers cultural activities for this target group either free or at a reduced price. Kulturkoffer funding is available to cultural education institutions, mainly public and charitable art and culture institutions, as well as initiatives that have worked in the current calendar year with at least one cooperation partner (e.g., socio-spatial partners, education providers, private funders or foundations) on a joint project in the area of cultural education.
  • Cultural Backpack North Rhine-Westphalia (Kulturrucksack NRW): The Cultural Backpack programme ties in with existing programmes like “Artists visit child day care” (Künstler in die Kita), “An instrument, dancing or singing for every child” (Jedem Kind Instrumente, Tanzen, Singen), “Culture and school” (Kultur und Schule), “Culture scouts” (KulturScouts) or “Culture kids” (Kulturstrolche), which are already offered in child day care centres and schools across North Rhine-Westphalia. It is for young people aged between 10 and 14. The aim is “to open the door to art and culture for all children and young people as early and as wide as possible”. Kulturrucksack wants to offer them opportunities to learn about institutions and organisations from the areas of art and culture and about cultural education, and to make use of the opportunities available. Local communities in which more than 3,500 young people aged from 10 to 14 are living can take part directly; smaller towns and communities can apply jointly with others. The federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia provides Kulturrucksack communities with 4.40 euros/year per person in the age group mentioned. More than 230 municipalities with over 70 Kulturrucksack venues are signed up the programme.
  • Cultural education in schools is the focus of the North Rhine-Westphalia state funding initiative for culture and schools (Landesprogramm Kultur und Schule). Since education is compulsory for school-age children, virtually all children and adolescents can be reached with creative activities. Participating artists encourage pupils to engage in artistic endeavours and take part in cultural activities. These activities are offered over the school year as 40 blocks of 90 minutes. The state funding initiative supports artists themselves, as well as cultural institutes and facilities providing artistic and cultural education. They can submit concepts to their local department for culture, which puts forward suitable projects to the district government.
  • JeKits – An instrument, dancing or singing for every child (JeKits – Jedem Kind Instrumente, Tanzen, Singen) in North Rhine-Westphalia was launched in 2014/15 to replace the “An instrument for every child” (Jedem Kind ein Instrument) programme. The new version was extended to include playing an instrument, dancing or singing, in order to offer access to the programme to the broadest possible audience across North Rhine-Westphalia. JeKits gives primary school children the chance to gain a cultural education, irrespective of their personal and/or socio-economic background. The programme is based on partnerships with external partners, such as music schools or dance studios. The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia provides annual funding of 11 million euros for the programme. More than 1,000 primary schools in 187 local communities in North Rhine-Westphalia took part in the programme in the 2018/19 school year.
  • "Culture researchers – children and young people on a voyage of discovery" (Kultur.Forscher – Kinder & Jugendliche auf Entdeckungsreise) (joint project by various federal states). School pupils have been learning actively about cultural aspects of their “lifeworlds”, or realities, as cultural researchers since 2009. They ask questions and then try to find the answers themselves using a range of methods, such as researching, observing, questioning, collecting, arranging, filming, painting and describing. They collect suggestions from artists, historians, sociologists, mayors and other experts. At the end of their research journey, they discuss their experiences, present their findings – and ask new questions. Kultur.Forscher is funded by the PwC Foundation (PwC-Stiftung). All Kultur.Forscher schools cooperate with one or more cultural partners from their region.
  • Diversity and participation in art and culture (Diversität und Teilhabe in Kunst und Kultur) in North Rhine-Westphalia is an NRW state initiative offering total funding of over 3 million euros for “action dedicated to making structural changes to improve diversity in the arts and culture sector”, e.g., through promotional programmes and mechanisms, support for diversity-aware change processes in cultural administrations at state and local level, associations and cultural institutions, and the promotion of under-represented artistic work. The goal is to reduce discrimination on the basis of skin colour, ethnicity, gender, age or sexual identity and to establish a culture of equality.
  • In the 2019/2020 school year, a talent school (Talentschulen) pilot project was introduced in North Rhine-Westphalia to look at how cultural education influences the development of language skills, how pupils see themselves, their individual potential and opportunities for participation. The programme, still running, aims to uncouple academic success from social background.

Disseminating information on cultural opportunities

Beyond the conventional channels, youth culture is often communicated dynamically and informally, away from the public eye. Young people become aware of cultural activities in a multitude of ways, often through experimentation and the result of a personal experience or the experience of friends (cf. EACEA 2008).

No centralised policy exists in Germany, either at federal (national) or state level, for informing children and young people about cultural opportunities. Information about cultural education opportunities is disseminated via schools and child and youth service organisations and the media, mainly at a community level.

General information on funding programmes is offered at the federal level for the wider public, such as on Culture builds strength (Kultur macht stark) or on the Child and Youth Plan of the Federal Government(cf. BMFSFJ 2016).

Other publications exist at federal state or local community level. Examples include:

  • The “Children, youth and culture – for a child- and youth-friendly North Rhine-Westphalia, state of culture” (Kinder, Jugend & Kultur – Auf dem Weg zum Kinder- und Jugendkulturland NRW) booklet published by the North Rhine-Westphalia State Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport (Ministerium für Familie, Kinder, Jugend, Kultur und Sport des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, MFKJKS) (cf. MFKJKS 2014).
  • "Culturenet – cultural education network in Hamburg" (Kulturnetz – Netzwerk kulturelle Bildung in Hamburg). The database of the Hamburg Ministry of Culture (Kulturbehörde), the Ministry of Schools and Vocational Training (Behörde für Schule und Berufsbildung), the state working group for child and youth culture (Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft Kinder- und Jugendkultur, LAG), the youth information centre (Jugendinformationszentrum, JIZ) and Hamburg city culture (Stadtkultur Hamburg) brings together teachers and trainers with cultural institutions, cultural initiatives and artists. It also makes suggestions on the use of cultural opportunities and projects to enhance lessons. The database lists opportunities in the areas: art, handicrafts/design, literature, media, music, dance/movement, history, world heritage and festivals/events, as well as ecology, the environment, nature, sport, social engagement and the economy.

In recent years, growing numbers of local authorities have set up digital platforms for cultural education in their cities and regions, e.g.:

  • Musenkuss Düsseldorf, Musenkuss Cologne, Musenkuss Munich

    The name Musenkuss was given to the database of cultural education activities as a nod to museums as a source of inspiration and as patrons of the arts since ancient times. The platform offers activities that encourage people to tap into, express and achieve their creative potential and be an active part of cultural life in the cities of Düsseldorf, Munich and Cologne. Musenkuss is a central source of information on state- and city-specific cultural education programmes, services and providers, a pool of artists, as well as resources and networks.
  • Cultural education in Bonn (Kulturelle Bildung in Bonn)

    The City of Bonn has a digital platform with information on educational activities for children and adolescents in the areas of music, drama, dance, literature, the visual arts and media, including affordable and free activities. It is also a central source of news on cultural education.
  • Cultural education for children and young people in Hanover (Kulturelle Kinder- und Jugendbildung in Hannover)

    The platform funnels activities from all genres of the arts, from concerts, plays and circus performances to school holiday activities – to watch and to participate.

Only a handful of information sources are directed specifically at young people, such as the booklet “What’s going on where! Recreational facilities for children and young people” (Wo ist was los! Kinder- und Jugendfreizeiteinrichtungen) (cf. State Association for Cultural Youth Education Berlin (Landesvereinigung Kulturelle Jugendbildung Berlin, LKJ Berlin [n.d.]) or the website Youth culture service (JugendKulturService), also in Berlin. Information on cultural activities in the region is also disseminated via city magazines like Känguru in Cologne and Bonn, and Libelle in Düsseldorf.

Knowledge of cultural heritage amongst young people

As already explained under “Main concepts”, “cultural heritage” is rarely mentioned in policy debates or the expert discourse in Germany. At all levels, cultural education always implies ties with art history, art heritage sites and artistic monuments. Cultural education for children and young people includes looking at art and culture throughout history as well as contemporary youth culture.