Cultural funding in Berlin

The Senate Department for Culture and Europe dispenses approximately €600 million in cultural funding annually.
Roughly ninety-five percent of this total is distributed to seventy long-term recipients in the form of institutional funding. Around five percent of the budget is allocated as individual grants and project funding (including the Capital Cultural Fund). In accordance with state budgetary regulations (Landeshaushaltsordnung – LHO) funding is dispensed in the form of grants and subsidies. Only public-interest projects and institutions operating on a not-for-profit basis are eligible to receive funding. Funding for commercial cultural enterprises and projects is available through economic development programmes.
The LHO differentiates between three types of funding: Financial shortfall, fixed sum and co-finance funding (§ 44 LHO). Key funding criteria include the economic case, cost-efficiency and overall effectiveness. In all cases, public funding is intended as a supplement to private sector engagement.
The decision-making process is guided by the principles of transparency, procedural fairness and equal opportunity. Project funding and scholarships are awarded on an application basis and in accordance with clearly defined criteria, with a particular emphasis on artistic merit. Applications for funding are appraised by advisory boards and juries, whose members are selected by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe on the basis of their expertise. These panels are reappointed at regular intervals. All funding decisions are published and catalogued in Berlin’s central funding database.
Matters relating to permanent institutional funding are decided by the House of Representatives within the framework of debate on its biennial budget. Individuals and institutions do not as a matter of course have any legal claim to funding. In recent years, Berlin’s formerly state-owned cultural institutions have to a large degree been re-established as legally independent entities. The operational responsibility for these institutions now rests with the respective foundations, limited liability enterprises – LLC (German: GmbH) and LHO business units. Within the scope of its administrative operations the department of cultural affairs ensures that recipients meet the legal requirements for the handling of public funds and monitors the appropriate use of all monies.
The Senate also promotes improvements in the structural parameters of the production, mediation and commercial exploitation of the arts and culture (for example through the studio lease programme, the allocation of project funding to grassroots initiatives and structural funding to marketing and qualification projects). These initiatives are of particular relevance to Berlin’s independent arts scene.

The funding system

Berlin’s state budgetary regulations differentiate between temporary (for individual artists and projects) and long-term (institutional) funding streams.

To support projects within the performing arts, the Senate has established a tiered funding system which strikes a balance between the needs of short-term initiatives and more ambitious, long-term projects. Individual project funding is also available for one-off artistic initiatives. Dedicated funding programmes for venues and basic grants provide theatre groups and venues with a planning horizon of up to two years. The concept funding track comprises a form of institutional funding with a standard duration of four years and is designed to facilitate long-term planning. This blend of grants for longer-term projects and short-term institutional funding is based on the so-called “omnibus principle”, according to which new grants can only be made when previous commitments are discontinued if funding levels are to remain constant (i.e. when recipients “hop off the bus”).
This system is complemented by the provision of secure, long-term funding streams to key cultural institutions which enjoy widespread support throughout society and whose funding is the subject of parliamentary debate within the general framework of budgetary legislation.

Further information

Other funding options

Berlin-based artists can also apply for funding from the following institutions: