Skip to main content


EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


8. Creativity and Culture

8.5 Developing cultural and creative competences

On this page
  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 and 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 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 (page 18) 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.”


At federal state (Länder) level in particular, there are programmes to promote young people’s talents. One example:

  • JeKits (North Rhine-Westphalia): JeKits – An instrument, dancing or singing for every child (JeKits – Jedem Kind Instrumente, Tanzen, Singen) is a primary school programme in North Rhine-Westphalia based on partnerships between schools and external partners (such as music schools or dance studios). The programme is open to all children at a JeKits school. JeKits offers three choices: instruments, dancing or singing. JeKits aims to give children the chance to experience making music, dancing or singing in a group as a way of expressing themselves. JeKits wants to reach as many children in North Rhine-Westphalia as possible, irrespective of their origins or their socio-economic background, to offer access to musical or dance education. JeKits wants to be a long-term enhancement to the local education landscape by systematically maintaining partnerships between schools and external partners. 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. The JeKits programme receives funding of over 11 million euros from the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia.


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, individual must pass an artistic aptitude test as stipulated in the study regulations of the higher education institutions.

Teacher training Further training for qualified teachers is offered in specific subjects by various providers in the federal states. 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.


Training for educators, youth workers and professionals in the cultural sector

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 e.V.),
  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.   Additionally, further training is available from training and advice centres and as part of special programmes. Examples:

  • North Rhine-Westphalia: ProQua, offered by the Academy of Arts Education of the German Government and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (project term: 2018-2022), offers specialist educational support for the national funding programme “Culture builds strength. Alliances for education” (Kultur macht stark. Bündnisse für Bildung) and organises conferences on cross-cutting subjects and general cultural education issues. The aim is to help train specialist staff and thus improve educational opportunities for disadvantaged children and adolescents. ProQua events are aimed at experts, multipliers and volunteers and focus on quality developments and the interests of local partnerships under the “Kultur macht stark” programme.
  • The German Federation for Cultural Youth Education (Bundesvereinigung Kulturelle Kinder- und Jugendbildung, BKJ) offers conferences and resources for improving quality. Its “” (jugend.kultur.austausch) department provides advice, funding and training on international youth culture and expert exchanges.

Providing quality access to creative environments

Cultural education in youth work

Book VIII of the Social Code (SGB VIII), 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 organisations (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 für das Land 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.  

In its “Recommendation on cultural education for children and young people” (Empfehlung zur kulturellen Kinder- und Jugendbildung) dated 10 October 2013, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz) put it thus: “Cultural education is crucial to the personal and character development of young people. It improves the conditions for attaining a successful educational profile and promotes the acquisition of cognitive and creative skills. It contributes to the emotional and social development of all adolescents and to their integration into the community, and is thus a basic condition for social participation.” The Federal Government’s 2012 report on education in Germany (Bildungsbericht der Bundesregierung)emphasised (page 157) that cultural education “helps individuals to lead a self-determined life, to discover and develop their expressive needs and to actively participate in culture. In a world where social, political and economic processes are shaped by a wealth of aesthetic media, music/aesthetic-cultural education will be a requirement for autonomous and critical participation in society and politics.” At the same time, cultural education is described as an educational area with independent goals (eigenständige Ziele).

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.

A curriculum analysis carried out as part of the “Mapping cultural education” project (mapping//kulturelle-bildung) found that in the 2007/8 school year the number of teaching hours allocated to cultural education in the individual states was about 72 hours on average. This equates to about 9.8% of total teaching hours. It is important to remember that the curriculum analysis only included subjects expressly designated as artistic, and that the amount of cultural education taught in schools is actually higher as cultural education is also relevant in other subjects. However, it is difficult to determine the exact portion of artistic and creative teaching that takes place, for example in language subjects or history class (relating to cultural history). “In addition to the curriculum, other cultural education services are available in schools on a voluntary basis, such as cultural opportunities outside of lessons, e.g., school libraries, school choirs, school orchestras, or theatre groups. The provision of additional programmes like these is not included in the statistical data on schools. However, the Youth Culture Barometer (Jugend-KulturBarometer) records past attendance at such programmes amongst 14- to 24-year-olds. According to the Barometer, 56% of young people had participated in an artistic or creative club at school at least once in their lives. If attendance at the Internet club (e.g., designing the home page) is also included as a borderline case, the share in 2010/11 rises to 62%.” The differences across the school systems and the status of creative school subjects in the syllabuses make it very difficult to collect data on teaching hours.

Schools have a certain amount of flexibility within the legal framework to broaden their programme or establish a profile as a cultural school. 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.

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, parts of the Internet, 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.

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 and is the reason why the German public authorities provide about eight billion euros in funding per year for art and culture on a federal (national), state and community level. For example, public theatre in Germany is subsidised by about 84% on average, with just 16% generated by the theatres themselves.”

Support for up and coming young artists

Programmes and, above all, prizes offer up-and-coming artists the opportunity to benefit from scholarships, publicity and financial support. Programmes and prizes are organised at federal (national), state, regional and local level. Examples of prizes, programmes and similar for young artists include:


  • Jugend musiziert is a music competition for children and young people that began in Germany in 1964. In addition to the artistic challenge, Jugend musiziert is about bringing together passionate young music fans. The competition has three phases: The winners of over 160 regional contents go through to the state competition. The first-placed males and females in the state competition then go through to the national final. Certificates and prizes are awarded at all three levels. In addition, foundations, organisations, institutions and private supporters award grants, special prizes and scholarships. The winners of the national finals are presented with an award by the Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
  • The German Youth Photo Award (Deutscher Jugendfotopreis) discovers and promotes talented young photographers and helps them to develop their skills as a personal and artistic form of expression. This is done through awards, workshops, exhibitions and publications. Since it was established, well over 50,000 photographers have taken part in the German Youth Photo Prize as individuals and in groups. The Award was launched in 1961 and is organised by the German Centre for Youth and Children’s Films (Deutsches Kinder- und Jugendfilmzentrum) on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend). Other backers include the German photographic industry association (Photoindustrie-Verband) and photokina.
  • The Socio-Cultural fund's "Giving youth a chance" (Fonds Soziokultur "Der Jugend eine Chance") funding initiative for young cultural initiatives provides financial support to young people aged 18 to 25 who have formed an initiative or club.
  • The Young Artists Festival Bayreuth (Festival junger Künstler Bayreuth) brings together 1,950 talented young individuals from across the globe. The young artists themselves organise and entertain at the festival. About 25,000 young people from 80 nations have visited Bayreuth for the festival over a period of 60 years. The close collaboration between young artists and cultural managers is an important part of the training.
  • The Ministry of Culture and Science (Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaft) of North Rhine-Westphalia runs an award scheme for young artists, with 14 individual prizes worth 7,500 euros each awarded to artists in the fields of painting, graphic design and sculpture; poetry and writing; composition, conducting and musical performance; drama: directing, acting, singing, dance and set design; film: directing, set design, camera; media art; architecture, interior design, landscaping, urban design and design.