Skip to main content


EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


8. Creativity and Culture

8.4 Promoting culture and cultural participation

On this page
  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 VIII 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 promote different structures (institutions, organisations) and programmes for cultural education for children and young people at federal (national), state and community level. They usually offer funding for alliances, organisational work, training and development for full-time and volunteer staff:

National (Bund) level

  • Funding via the Child and Youth Plan of the Federal Government (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes, KJP) 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 federation (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes, KJP), prior to 1994 known as the National Youth Plan [Bundesjugendplan]) adopted in 1950. 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 VIII of the Social Code – Child and Youth Services (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch – Kinder- und Jugendhilfe, SGB VIII).
  • Since 2009, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (Staatsministerin für Kultur und Medien) awards the annual BKM prize for cultural education (BKM-Preis Kulturelle Bildung) to recognise projects that promote art and culture in an innovative and sustainable way – and which focus especially on under-represented target groups. This award is currently being updated in line with the coalition agreement (Koalitionsvertrag 2018), which foresees a “national alliance for inclusive cultural education” (gesamtstaatliches Bündnis der inklusiven kulturellen Bildung) under which existing cultural education initiatives such as the BKM award are brought together and strengthened. The Commissioner provides funding for exemplary projects that promote diversity in terms of personnel, programming and audiences and continue to strengthen cultural teaching and education. The amount earmarked for such projects in 2019 is around 2.7 million euros.

One such award was presented in 2017 to the Youth Museum in Berlin for its exhibition All included! Museum and school for sexual diversity (All included! Museum und Schule für sexuelle Vielfalt). Under the headings “diversity”, “gender” and “love”, the show highlights a variety of lifestyles. Aimed at adolescents aged 10 and above as well as adults, it invites visitors to shift perspectives and examines the history of emancipation and the struggle for equality. In 2018, the organisation Spielen in der Stadt e.V. was awarded a prize for its project Stranger than – turning neighbours into strangers ("Stranger than - aus Nachbarn werden Fremde"), in which 22 youngsters from nine countries, some of them fleeing from war and terror, spent one year examining various aspects of the Nazi dictatorship. In 2020 the BKM prize was replaced by the award Kulturlichter, the German Award for Cultural Education (Deutscher Preis für kulturelle Bildung) of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. It is awarded in recognition of projects and ideas that use innovative digital formats to teach about art and culture.


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:

  • 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 for every child” (Jedem Kind ein Instrument), “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.
  • Live culture! (KULTUR_leben!) (Saarland): KULTUR_leben! aims to sustainably embed cultural education in all school subjects and daily school life. It also wants to establish regional networks between schools and cultural partners. These goals are to be implemented through inclusion on the curriculum and syllabuses, as well as congresses, teacher training, networking, best-practice work and collaboration with artists. A state-wide project, KULTUR_leben! is implemented as part of the framework programme "Creative potentials" (Kreativpotentiale), which is funded by the Mercator foundation (Stiftung Mercator). Mercator sees cultural education as key, and funds this programme to help the federal states to develop and implement concepts and tools for establishing cultural education. The project ran for three years and received funding of 500,000 euros each from Stiftung Mercator and the federal state of Saarland.
  • "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 2008. 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, the mayor 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). It currently (2019) covers schools in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Bremen, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. Every school cooperates with one or more cultural partners from their region.  

Disseminating information on cultural opportunities

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.

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

  • Booklet: “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).
  • "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.

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 in Berlin” (Wo ist was los! Kinder- und Jugendfreizeiteinrichtungen in Berlin) or the website "Youth culture service“ (JugendKulturService), also in Berlin.

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.