Cultural education, media literacy and socio-cultural work
Regarded as a high priority, as a cross-cutting responsibility, cultural education is promoted by the Federal Government, Länder and municipalities and local governments, and often across governmental ministries. Through a system of incentives and target agreements between establishments and both grant recipients and grant makers, it is ensured that cultural education is a priority of the work of cultural institutions. The Federal Government along with the Länder facilitates access to culture regardless of financial situation and social background and bolsters cultural education-related activities. The Länder have laid the groundwork for early exposure to cultural education within school curricula and lesson plans with the goal of opening participation in cultural life to all, awakening an interest in arts and culture from a young age, and encouraging the discovery of hidden talents. Noteworthy examples are the programme “Culture and School North Rhine-Westphalia” and, since 2012, “Culture Backpack NRW”, which is being implemented in partnership with local governments in the region, and the “Berlin Project Fund for Cultural Education”, which focuses on crosscultural encounters and partnerships. Culture is also on offer in the extra-curricular context through an extensive promotion of broadly available cultural provisions and cultural projects in the child and youth welfare sector.
Diverse aspects of cultural education are promoted by three federal ministries: the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM).
The BMBF promotes cultural education for children, adolescents and adults in all arts and cultural disciplines and, to this end, spent some EUR 4.5 million (USD 6 million) in 2010 and EUR 4.2 million (USD 5.6 million) in 2011. This funding was used, for example, to nurture talented individuals through competitions, master classes and dance events, to fund projects in all areas of culture and for all ages groups (music kindergartens, multimedia literacy for primary school pupils and adolescents through computer clubs, the development of teaching materials for music schools, cultural education for senior citizens), or to integrate children and adolescents with immigrant backgrounds (for example, the “Trialogue of Cultures” programme in schools, writing workshops in secondary and special-needs schools, and the “Pop Music and School” programme at secondary schools).
The BMFSFJ supports the future development of diverse cultural programmes for children and adolescents and the provision of a pluralistic service delivery infrastructure. In addition to federal professional organisations (e.g. the Children and Youth Theatre Centre in Frankfurt am Main), three institutional establishments also receive support from the BMFSFJ: the Remscheid Academy for Cultural and Media Education (Akademie Remscheid für musische Bildung und Medienerziehung), the Federal Academy for Musical Education for Young People (Bundesakademie für musikalische Jugendbildung) and the International Youth Library (Internationale Jugendbibliothek). Additionally, the Ministry sponsors major nationwide competitions and prizes such as Jugend Musiziert, a music competition for young people, the German Youth’s Literature Award, the only state-sponsored prize for narrative literature (Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis), the German Youth Video Prize (Deutscher Jugendvideopreis), the German Youth Photo Prize (Deutscher Jugendfotopreis), the Video of the Generation Prize (Videopreis der Generation) and the German Youth Theatre Prize (Deutscher Kindertheaterpreis).
Through its support of the Genshagen Foundation in Brandenburg, the BKM intensifies the cross-border dialogue between cultural education experts in Europe. Furthermore, the BKM has developed several tools to support important cultural mediation models. These include the BKM Cultural Education Award and a grant programme for innovative projects. Projects for people from all age groups, different social strata and with diverse ethnic roots have been supported. Particular attention is given to those people who have had little or no contact with cultural and art institutions.
Through its Art and Agency (Kunst der Vermittlung) theme area, the BKM-funded Federal Cultural Foundation develops, supports and initiates innovative projects and programmes that promote cultural education. One example is the Mercator Foundation’s “Cultural Agents for Creative Schools” programme, founded in 2011, for joint cultural projects by schools, artists, cultural pedagogues and urban institutions. Federal Government grants to its permanently funded cultural institutes are tied to the goal of actively promoting culture. Individuals with little or no prior contact with public cultural institutions are among the key beneficiaries.
The Länder and local governments place special emphasis on musical education for children and adolescents. In addition to regular music classes at all schools, in 2009 a total of 909 publicly-funded music schools dedicated exclusively to musical education were attended by some 240,000 pupils. Special programmes like the “An Instrument for Every Child” initiative provide additional incentives to get involved in music as one of the most significant forms of cultural expression. Even in rural areas, there are opportunities for high-quality music education to take root outside of the schoolmusic class: one example is the so-called “Musicmobile” – a mobile musical instruments and equipment service with corresponding programming. The programme gives children and young people living far from the cultural life of urban centres the opportunity to engage in music more intensely. Fifteen music universities throughout the Länder provide musical education at the highest level.
Youth art schools
Youth art schools are extra-curricular cultural education establishments especially geared towards children and adolescents. These art schools and cultural pedagogical centres bring together all arts under one roof: visual arts, drama and theatre, literature, media, dance and rhythm. Through courses, workshops, projects, or holiday programmes, young people learn in an interdisciplinary and multimedia fashion. Youth art schools work together with kindergartens, schools and other pedagogic and cultural partners, both formal and informal. In this context, the schools offer an open cultural programme with exhibitions, performances and neighbourhood projects and are a motor for locally-based cultural, pedagogical and socio-cultural life and learning. To date, there are around 400 youth art schools throughout Germany.
In 2007, the Federal Government launched the initiative “A Web for Children” that used a privately-financed protected Internet surfing space (fragFinn), specifically designed for
children aged six to twelve. In addition, the Federal Government has made an annual sum of EUR 1.5 million (USD 2 million) available for the promotion of exemplary Internet programmes for children since 2008. The VISION KINO network strengthens children and adolescents’ film literacy and at the same time enhances their understanding of the cinema as a cultural space. With the participation of 600,000 students and teachers, “School Cinema Weeks” are one of the biggest pedagogical film projects in Europe. Since 2008, the National Initiative for Print Media teaches students about the importance of newspapers and magazines for democracy and the value of the diversity of media and opinions through annual school competitions. The annual German Computer Game Prize has honoured pedagogically and culturally valuable computer games since 2009.
Socio-cultural centres offer multi-generational and intercultural programming in individual disciplines such as music, theatre, arts and craft, and film. They promote civil engagement, individual creativity, and cultural competence, bringing professional and amateur artists together and providing the necessary infrastructure for this purpose. With over 24 million visitors in 2009 and 84,123 annual events, they are an integral part of Germany’s cultural infrastructure. The centres are generally run by associations and receive funding from the local governments, with the latter receiving support from the Länder. Since their inception in the 1970s, the interdisciplinary activities organised by the socio-cultural centres have focused heavily on issues relating to tolerance and to encounters with other cultures.