Digital Culture

Intorduction to the programme Digital Culture

The programme Digital Culture aims to motivate and support cultural organisations to independently take advantage of the possibilities of digitalisation. At the same time, it encourages them to creatively and critically examine digital culture and develop it further in a community-oriented manner. How can museums, theatres, concert halls and literature houses respond to technological innovations? What forms of presentation, production and communication with visitors can benefit these organisations most? So far, only a few cultural organisations in Germany have developed and instituted digital concepts and services or expanded their activities in this direction. This is mainly due to the fact that artistic administrators lack the competence and expertise to assess and implement these highly-dynamic digital technologies and services.

The programme Digital Culture applies an open-access and open-source approach and consists of three components: The Digital Fund, the cultural hackathon Coding da Vinci and the Academy for Theatre and Digitality.

Design and implementation Key Visual: (external link, opens in a new window), Paulina Raszeja & Paul Rascheja

Digital Fund – Digital Transformation in Cultural Institutions

The application-based Digital Fund – Digital Transformation in Cultural Institutions is targeted at cultural organisations in all artistic areas which have already begun developing a digital strategy and have tested and/or implemented digital services, e.g. online collections, social media projects or apps. The “Digital Fund” enables partnerships of at least two cultural institutions to further develop processes of transformation, experiment with new digital aesthetics and forms of expression and enhance their digital profiles. This fund is not intended for cultural organisations which have only just begun developing their digital activities. Furthermore, funding cannot be granted to projects whose exclusive purpose is to digitalise collection holdings.

Funding is awarded to develop and implement digital projects in the areas of digital curating, digital artistic production, digital presentation and communication. The applying institutions should collaborate in partnerships comprised of at least two cultural organisations together with digital experts in order to acquire competence, share knowledge and content, and present their activities in open networks. Such partnerships are eligible to receive up to 880,000 euros from the Federal Cultural Foundation for projects lasting four years. For partnerships with more than two cultural institutions, the maximum funding amount which can be applied for increases by 160,000 euros for each additional organisation. The Digital Fund has a total of 15.8 million euros at its disposal.

The Foundation will regularly hold Digital Labs to provide ongoing support, encourage exchange between the funded institutions and partnerships, and examine the progress achieved in model projects abroad. It also plans to organise a nationwide Idea Congress comprised of workshops, academic colloquiums, international excursions and advanced training seminars for staff of the cultural organisations.

Digital Fund - Jury

The following members belong to the Digital Fund jury:

  • Michael Eickhoff has served as the head dramaturge at Schauspiel Dortmund since the 2010/11 season. He has staged a number of performances and projects which explore the cross-over of performing arts, activism, digitality and journalism. He has taught at the Folkwang University of the Arts as a visiting lecturer since 2010 and has been involved with building the Academy for Theatre and Digitality since 2017/18.
  • Prof. Dr. Ellen Euler, was appointed professor for Open Access/Open Data at the FH Potsdam in July 2017. She studied law with specialisation in information rights. She earned her doctorate with a dissertation titled “Cultural Memory in the Age of Digital and Networked Media and Its Legal Consequences”. Ellen Euler served as the administrative director and deputy managing director during the creation of the German Digital Library.
  • Prof. Dr. Markus Hilgert, secretary general of the Cultural Foundation of German States, served as director of the Vorderasiatisches Museum (Museum of the Ancient Near East) at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin until 2017 where he created and developed the project “museum4punkt0 – Digital Strategies for the Museum of the Future”. Markus Hilgert is an honorary professor at the universities of Heidelberg, Marburg and Berlin.
  • Sabine Himmelsbach has served as director of the Haus der elektronischen Künste (HeK) in Basel since March 2012. From 1999 to 2005 Himmelsbach was the director of the exhibitions department at the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe where she curated numerous exhibitions and accompanying programmes on media art-related topics. From 2005 to 2011 Sabine Himmelsbach was the director of the Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art in Oldenburg.
  • Tobias Rempe is the co-founder and managing director (since 2008) of the chamber orchestra Ensemble Resonanz in Hamburg where he is also responsible for the performance venue “resonanzraum”. Tobias Rempe is currently developing a “digital resonanzraum” in which the Ensemble Resonanz can perform using a diverse array of digital formats and explore the artistic possibilities of a digital space for concert works specifically composed for this venue.

Digital Fund: Funding requirements

The funding guidelines for the Digital Fund can be downloaded here. The application deadline was 1 July 2019. No further applications rounds are planned.

Cultural Hackathon Coding da Vinci

To motivate cultural institutions to make their cultural data publicly accessible with the aid of digital technologies, the cultural hackathon Coding da Vinci will accompany eight editions at various venues around Germany. The cultural hackathon Coding da Vinci (external link, opens in a new window) was initiated in 2014 by the institutions listed below. It brings cultural organisations of every artistic genre together with experts from the fields of programming, development, design, art, and gaming with the goal of making cultural data more accessible. Coding da Vinci promotes the digital transformation of cultural institutions and creates an attractive platform for the web community to creatively engage with culture and cultural data. The Federal Cultural Foundation is funding eight editions of the cultural hackathon, for which it is working closely with the founding institutions of Coding da Vinci: Wikimedia Deutschlande.V. (external link, opens in a new window), the Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek (external link, opens in a new window), the Open Knowledge Foundation (external link, opens in a new window) and the Forschungs- und Kompetenzzentrum Digitalisierung Berlin (digiS) (external link, opens in a new window).

Cultural hackathons

  • Coding da Vinci South 2019
  • Coding da Vinci Westphalia-Ruhr Region 2019
  • Coding da Vinci Saar-Lor-Lux 2020
  • Coding da Vinci Niedersachsen 2020
  • Coding da Vinci Schleswig-Holstein 2021
  • Coding da Vinci Nieder.Rhein.Land 2021
  • Coding da Vinci Ost³ 2022
  • Coding da Vinci Baden-Württemberg 2022

Coding da Vinci scholarships

The Federal Cultural Foundation is also financing 32 Coding da Vinci scholarships (external link, opens in a new window). The scholarships enable hackathon participants to continue developing their project concepts. The scholarship holders receive 1,250 euros per month for three months to help finance their cost of living. During this time, they are invited to workshops and coaching seminars to help them acquire new skills applicable to their projects. After each hackathon, individual participants or teams can submit their project for consideration to receive a scholarship. An average of four CdV scholarships will be awarded per hackathon until 2022. If a team proposal is selected, each member of the team receives an individual scholarship. A jury of experts is responsible for awarding scholarships based on the merit of the submitted applications.

Coding da Vinci – The Cultural Hackathon is funded by the Federal Cultural Foundation as a joint project by Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, the Forschungs- und Kompetenzzentrum Digitalisierung Berlin (digiS), the Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland and Wikimedia Deutschland. A total of 1.2 million euros has been allocated to finance the cultural hackathon Coding da Vinci between 2019 and 2022.

Academy for Theatre and Digitality

In the third project of the Digital Culture programme, the Federal Cultural Foundation is funding a total of 54 fellowships for theatre professionals between 2019 to 2022 at the newly established Academy for Theatre and Digitality (external link, opens in a new window). This project is the only one of its kind in Europe and is organised by the Theater Dortmund (external link, opens in a new window), the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the city of Dortmund. The academy was established by the Deutscher Bühnenverein, the Deutsche Theatertechnische Gesellschaft and the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences. Its purpose is to provide theatres in Germany a place to engage in digital artistic research and cooperation, and offer educational measures and advanced training seminars to artistic and technical personnel. The Federal Cultural Foundation has allocated 1 million euros to finance the artistic research fellowships at the Academy.

Selected projects and collaborations of the Academy

The theatre project The House – Reinventing the Real, developed by the fellows Roman Senkl, Nils Corte and Max Schweder, examines how and to what extent digital spaces can be used by theatres as performance venues. How does theatrical narration and a dual presence in virtual environments function?
The Theatertreffen, financed by the Federal Cultural Foundation, took place in virtual space in 2020. The event included the format Unboxing Stages – Digital Practice in Theatre, which was developed and presented in cooperation with the Academy for Theatre and Digitality.

The Federal Cultural Foundation has allocated a total of 18 million euros to fund the Digital Cultural programme from 2018 to 2024.


Julia Mai

Digital CultureKulturstiftung des BundesFranckeplatz 206110 Halle (Saale)
Tel: 49 (0)345 2997 119Fax: 49 (0)345 2997 333E-Mail to Julia Mai