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EACEA National Policies Platform


8. Creativity and Culture

8.5 Developing cultural and creative competences

Last update: 9 February 2022
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  1. Acquiring cultural and creative competences through education and training
  2. Specialised training for professionals in the education, culture and youth fields
  3. Providing quality access to creative environments

Acquiring cultural and creative competences through education and training

Promoting cultural and creative competences is an aim of all cultural education initiatives in Germany, irrespective of whether they are formal or non-formal programmes. All of the legal frameworks, political strategies and funding initiatives work with this goal in mind. While schools tend to focus on teaching knowledge, cultural institutions in particular offer opportunities to experience artistic works or cultural heritage. Non-formal cultural education for children and young people mainly encourages them to develop their own creativity. Opportunities are available across all genres, including (new) media, which allow children and young people to get artistically and culturally active. However, this description makes a rough distinction that does not necessarily apply in all cases.

Recognition of the value of cultural education in youth work or other areas of child and youth services, at nursery level and in schools and other educational areas has risen a lot in the last 20 years. Since then, the question of what this means, which concepts are suitable, and what the right approach is to give more young people the opportunity to participate has (once again) become the subject of fierce debate in various social and professional groups and across several political arenas. A particularly strong argument is that cultural education generates secondary and transfer effects that contribute to the development of young people’s skills, to their professional prospects and to social cohesion. The 15th child and youth report (15. Kinder- und Jugendbericht) notes that “cultural education opportunities are an important learning environment for young people. They convey artistic abilities, creativity, expressiveness, tolerance and social skills – key conditions for participation and social integration.” (cf. BMFSFJ 2017, page 18).

At federal state (Länder) level in particular, there are programmes to promote young people’s talents (see “Developing entrepreneurial skills through culture”).

Specialised training for professionals in the education, culture and youth fields

Teachers must complete professional studies before they can teach at schools. In order to start teacher training in an artistic discipline, individuals must pass an artistic aptitude test as stipulated in the study regulations of the higher education institutions (cf. Keuchel 2013).

Teacher training

Further training for qualified teachers is offered in specific subjects by various providers in the federal states. According to the 2021 coalition agreement (Koalitionsvertrag), the Federation and the Länder intend in future establish a joint “Coordination office for teacher training” (Koordinierungsstelle Lehrkräftefortbildung) to coordinate nationwide continuing and professional development schemes (cf. Social Democratic Party of Germany [SPD]/Alliance 90/The Greens/Free Democratic Party [FDP] 2021, page 96). Further training is also available as part of special programmes. Some programmes also address the promotion of collaboration between schools and external cultural education partners.


Examples of further teacher training available in the federal states:

  • Baden-Württemberg: The Rotenfels Castle academy for school art, school theatre and amateur dramatics (Akademie für Schulkunst, Schul- und Amateurtheater Schloss Rotenfels) is the state’s central teaching and training academy for artistic disciplines. It sees itself as a practice-based meeting place for teachers, pupils, artists and experts from all areas of school and cultural life. The Academy helps schools to develop aesthetic-cultural projects through further training and school-related events. It aims to act as a liaison and advisor for schools and cultural institutions/cultural partners. The Academy is an official teacher-training provider in Baden-Württemberg, offering teacher-training events that look at the practical and creative as well as theoretical and reflective aspects of the visual arts, and at the substance of theatre, dance and neighbouring areas.


Extracurricular cultural child and youth education

Almost all professional bodies and state associations for cultural child and youth education (Fachverbände und Landesvereinigungen Kulturelle Kinder- und Jugendbildung) offer further training in extracurricular cultural child and youth education. There are also training academies for cultural education or specific artistic genres in the federal states, such as the 23 federal and state music academies (Bundes- und Landesmusikakademien) or the theatre education centres. This is in addition to three national training academies:

  1. Academy of Arts Education of the German Government and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (Akademie der Kulturellen Bildung des Bundes und des Landes) in Remscheid,
  2. Federal academy for cultural education in Wolfenbüttel (Bundesakademie für Kulturelle Bildung Wolfenbüttel),
  3. Federal academy for musical youth education in Trossingen (Bundesakademie für musikalische Jugendbildung Trossingen).

All three academies offer further training programmes for various professions in schools, nursery/child day care, youth work and culture.

Providing quality access to creative environments

Cultural education in youth work

Book 8 of the Social Code, specifically Article 11 (3) (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch – Kinder- und Jugendhilfe, SGB VIII), identifies cultural youth education as a key focus of youth work and a specific service to be provided by child and youth services.
Cultural youth education can hence form part of any kind of youth work and youth association work. Within the youth work field, there are organisations and institutions that specialise in cultural education for children and adolescents. The around 70,000 individual organisations and institutions at the local level are in turn affiliated with 57 nationwide umbrella organisations and more than 900 state-level organisations. They focus on a wide range of subjects, ranging from literature, music, theatre, dance and rhythm, to the visual arts, photography, media, play and circus artistry. These organisations have their own facilities, such as youth music schools, youth art schools, literary organisations, child and youth theatres, mobile facilities (play buses) and other organisations that have no venue of their own (usually clubs and associations).


Cultural education in school education

The right to education, guidance and personal advancement, as well as to cultural participation, is laid down in all target paragraphs of the state school acts (Schulgesetze), such as in this example taken from North Rhine-Westphalia's school act (Schulgesetz Nordrhein-Westfalen). Article 1 (1) states that every young person, irrespective of their financial situation, background or gender, has a right to school education, guidance and personal advancement, and that this right is guaranteed within the framework of this law. Article 2 (4) covers the mandate of schools to provide education and guidance, which says that schools must teach the knowledge, skills, abilities and values needed to fulfil their educational and guidance mandate. In doing so, the school must take the individual requirements of the pupils into consideration. The school gives pupils the ability to be responsible citizens of social, societal, economic, professional, cultural and political life and to shape their own lives.

Cultural participation/cultural education in schools is ensured via the curriculum, mainly in the range of subjects taught. Cultural subjects at school are usually: music lessons, art lessons (focus on visual arts), German lessons (literature), and in some federal states and selected types of school also performing art (theatre), dance or representation and expression. In addition, all-day schools offer afternoon activities in all artistic genres – drama, circus artistry, photography, drawing/painting and many more besides – as well as dedicated project days and weeks.

Schools have a certain amount of flexibility within the legal framework to broaden their programme or establish a profile as a cultural school. As part of their development into cultural schools, for example, they might award art and culture subjects a special status (for example by allocating a greater portion of school hours) or offer optional art/culture subjects and extracurricular work groups. Regular extracurricular opportunities in cooperation with external partners such as institutions and organisations that provide cultural education for children and young people, or with cultural institutions or individual artists, are also widespread. This form of school development is integrated into lesson planning and organisational and staff development.

Cultural education in the cultural sector

Cultural education – in addition to other tasks – is also seen as a (social) mandate of public cultural institutions in Germany. However, it is not anchored in law or established nationwide. The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (Grundgesetz) states that the funding of art and culture is a voluntary task of the federal states (cultural sovereignty, or Kulturhoheit), which must also establish the necessary legal frameworks and provide funding.

A wide range of stakeholders and cultural institutions cover the area of art and culture in Germany. These include libraries, theatres, museums, orchestras, choirs, publishing houses, the film industry, television, radio and digital media, as well as privately and publicly run music schools and adult education centres, and artists from all genres. The educational mandate is interpreted and implemented in a wide variety of ways, ranging from a systematic focus on visitor numbers to reach as many people as possible, through to educational programmes. Art education in cultural centres has come on a great deal in recent years. In particular, large museums, theatres and concert halls now have in-house departments and education programmes with experts offering educational activities for children and adolescents.

The fact that support for culture and the arts is a voluntary task for the public sector is not without its critics in Germany and there continue to be repeated calls for its inclusion in the Basic Law (Grundgesetz): “Despite the fact that it has not yet found its way expressly into the Basic Law (…), multiple top-level rulings by the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) and Article 35 of the German Unification Treaty describe Germany explicitly as a 'nation of culture'. The cultural educational mandate derives from this” (BPB 2010). For this reason, the German public authorities provide about two billion euros in funding per year for art and culture on a federal (national), state and community level, covering around 17% of all spending in this area.