The allocation of funding to Berlin’s independent theatre and dance landscape is governed by the Senate’s 2008 General Directive on the Funding of Private-sector Theatres and Theatre and Dance Groups in Berlin.
The purpose of the directive is to improve access to funding streams for small and medium-sized private theatres and independent ensembles based in Berlin and to heighten transparency around funding matters. Funding is provided to productions on the basis of artistic merit. This approach allows administrators to shift the focus of funding streams in response to new and emerging trends within the performing arts.
A range of funding categories and respective funding periods has been established to this end, along with clearly defined procedures for the allocation of funds by expert juries tasked with evaluating applications.
The funding regime has been designed with the intention of safeguarding the continuing operation of established ensembles while also providing sufficient flexibility to respond to emerging trends in theatre and dance by setting new accents across multiple genres.
The Senate has established a tiered funding system which caters equally to both short-term initiatives and more ambitious undertakings. Individual grants are available for the execution of one-off and short-term projects (project funding). Basic funding and programmes for venues provide theatre groups and venues with a planning horizon of up to two years. The concept funding programme is a form of institutional funding with a standard duration of four years to facilitate longer-term planning. This mix of long-term project funding 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 (i.e. when recipients “hop off the bus”).
The system is complemented by the provision of secure, long-term institutional funding to high-profile institutions which enjoy widespread support throughout society and whose funding is the subject of parliamentary debate within the general framework of budgetary legislation.