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 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.
The jury of the Digital Fund recommended funding for 15 projects totalling 13.18 million euros. The Board of Trustees confirmed the recommendations at its meeting on 9 December 2019. Thirty-six cultural institutions nationwide are participating in the selected projects, including 28 museums, five theatres, two opera houses and one memorial site. Three projects are cooperating with international partners in Australia, Brazil and Sweden.
Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe and Ethnological Museum (Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz)) for the project “De-Linking Sounds. A Transcultural and Media Platform.” Funding amount: max. 880,000 euros
In “De-Linking Sounds”, the Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv at the Ethnological Museum and the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe will examine colonial perspectives and structures on the web and develop a digital platform, joint presentation formats and a series of artistic productions which feature multi-perspective and collaborative approaches.
Deichtorhallen Hamburg and Kampnagel Internationale Kulturfabrik for the project “Diversify the Code! Artistic Production and Institutional Structural Change in Digital Space.” Funding amount: max. 880,000 euros
The joint project “Diversify the Code!” by Kampnagel and the Deichtorhallen Hamburg addresses the question of how digital technologies can be developed, presented and utilised for their artistic endeavours, and how they can be used to extensively reorganise the internal working and production structures at the institutions.
Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf Duisburg and FFT Düsseldorf (Forum Freies Theater) for the project “The Digital Foyer. Rooms of Encounter in the Theatre of the Future”. Funding amount: max. 816,000 euros
The Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf Duisburg and FFT Düsseldorf plan to expand their foyers with digital services in the areas of education and communication. The goal is to permanently establish a “digital foyer” as a place of encounter for urban society.
DFF – German Film Institute & Film Museum (Frankfurt/Main) and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image – ACMI (Melbourne, Australia) for the project “Constellations of Cinematic Knowledge // Constellation 2.0”. Funding amount: max. 840,000 euros
The DFF (German Film Institute & Film Museum) in Frankfurt is cooperating with the ACMI – Australian Centre of the Moving Image Melbourne to drive innovation in the area of digital participation at the international level. The collaboration may include, e.g. developing digital programmes which allow visitors to view selected video features in the exhibition and access more extensive, related information in a site-specific media installation.
Ethnological Museum and Ibero-American Institute (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Berlin), Botanical Garden, Botanical Museum, Berlin and Museu Nacional Rio De Janeiro (Brazil) for the project “Connecting-Understanding-Presenting. The Amazon as a Future Lab”. Funding amount: max. 779,800 euros
The Ethnological Museum, the Ibero-American Institute, the Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum in Berlin are cooperating with the National Museum of Brazil, which was almost destroyed by fire in 2018. In this project, the partners will explore new ways to access their respective ethnological collections. The aim is to develop postcolonial research approaches and digital tools which integrate the perspectives and knowledge systems of indigenous experts from the start.
House of Brandenburg-Prussian History (Brandenburg Society for Culture and History) and Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen (Brandenburg Memorials Foundation, Oranienburg) for the project “Site-Specific Augmented Storytelling Lab. SPUR.lab”. Funding amount: max. 880,000 euros
Jointly operated by three memorial sites and museums in Brandenburg, the “SPUR.lab” is a laboratory devoted to digitally presenting historical crimes, particularly those committed by the Nazi regime. It will also examine how digital presentation formats can preserve and take into account the authenticity of physical sites.
Jewish Museum of Frankfurt, Archaeological Museum of Frankfurt and the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm (Frankfurt/Main) for the project “METAhub Frankfurt. Museums, Education, Theatre, Arts – Culture in Digital and Urban Space”. Funding amount: max. 1,040,000 euros.
With this digital application developed by the Archaeological Museum and the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt, smartphone users can virtually explore original sites of Jewish urban history which no longer exist via augmented reality. The project will be accompanied by residencies for media artists at the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm who will develop new digital productions.
Komische Oper Berlin and Berliner Ensemble for the project “Free Play! In Search of Digital Spaces of Experience”. Funding amount: max. 880,000 euros
The Komische Oper Berlin and Berliner Ensemble have teamed up with digital experts to jointly develop artistic worlds, places of encounter, games and applications where the artistic genres of opera and drama will be digitally reinterpreted.
Kunsthalle Mannheim and Kunstmuseum Stuttgart for the project “From the Work to the Display. 32 Digitally Curated Rooms”. Funding amount: max. 880,000 euros
With their project “From the Work to the Display” the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart and the Kunsthalle Mannheim want to develop 32 formats to innovatively present objects from their collections on digital displays. This experimental approach is based on the specific characteristics of individual works, e.g. their spatial dimensions, haptic quality or surface structure, to digitally render them as realistically as possible.
Ludwig Forum for International Art and Hartware Medien KunstVerein (HMKV, Dortmund) for the project “Training the Archive. Developing Algorithms for Recognising Patters in Big Data Searches”. Funding amount: max. 704,000 euros.
“Training the Archive” aims to investigate the possibilities and risks of artificial intelligence (AI) with respect to artistic and curatorial practice. Together with international artists, curators and a digital partner, the Ludwig Forum for International Art in partnership with the HMKV Dortmund plan to create a functioning process based on a yet-to-be developed pattern recognition technology which can imitate and build on human search processes.
LWL Museum of Archaeology – Westphalian State Museum (Herne), German Mining Museum (Bochum) and LWL-Römermuseum (Haltern am See) for the project “The Museum as a Co-Lab. Open the Black Box of Archaeology!”. Funding amount: max. 1,040,000 euros
The three archaeological museums, the LWL Museum of Archaeology – Westphalian State Museum (Herne), German Mining Museum (Bochum) and LWL-Römermuseum are developing the project “Open the Black Box of Archaeology” to encourage greater visitor participation. The project organisers are developing applications with visitors and digital experts which present archaeological practice and research knowledge, e.g. on excavations, storage and material analysis.
Museum of Contemporary Art Siegen, Kestner Society (Hannover), Art and Culture in the HafenCity (Hamburg) and Marta Herford for the project “Open Worlds. Digital Tour through Spaces of Our Time”. Funding amount: max. 960,000 euros
In “Open Worlds”, the four participating institutions of contemporary art – the Museum of Contemporary Art Siegen, Kestner Society (Hannover), Art and Culture in the HafenCity (Hamburg) and Marta Herford – are collaborating with artists and curators to develop a playful, digital tour and artistic displays in urban settings.
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, National Museum of Sweden (Stockholm) and Overseas Museum of Bremen for the project “NEO Collections. User-Centred. Exploratory. Digital Museum Collections in the 21st Century”. Funding amount: max. 959,000 euros
With their joint project “Neo Collections” the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, National Museum of Sweden (Stockholm) and Overseas Museum of Bremen aim to present their digitalised collections both online and in the museum using applications which are designed to be more user-centred, exploratory and open.
NRW Forum Düsseldorf and Museum Ulm for the project “Nextmuseum.io. Platform for Co-Curation and Co-Creation”. Funding amount: max. 760,000 euros
The Museum Ulm and the NRW Forum Düsseldorf have launched the project “Nextmuseum.io” to explore how digital methods can be used to promote greater democracy in the art world. A cross-institutional open platform will be created, with which curators, artists and institutions will be able to develop exhibitions in open digital dialogue with visitors.
ZKM | Center for Art and Media (Karlsruhe) and German Museum of Masterpieces of Science and Technology (Munich) for the project “The Intelligent Museum. An Artistic-Curatorial Field of Experimentation for Deep Learning and Visitor Participation”. Funding amount: max. 880,000 euros
The ZKM | Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe and the German Museum in Munich are developing a new AI-based exhibition system in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics in Karlsruhe. Using machine vision and language recognition, the researchers will be able to directly analyse visitor behaviour and so doing immediately adapt the content and presentation of the exhibition to the interests and characteristics of the visitors.
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. The jury session took place on 24-25 October 2019.
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 up to eight editions at various venues around Germany. The cultural hackathon Coding da Vinci 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 up to eight editions of the cultural hackathon, for which it is working closely with the founding institutions of Coding da Vinci: Wikimedia Deutschland e.V., the Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek, the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Forschungs- und Kompetenzzentrum Digitalisierung Berlin (digiS).
Past and current cultural hackathons
If your institution is interested in organising a cultural hackathon, please contact the Coding da Vinci team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coding da Vinci scholarships
The Federal Cultural Foundation is also financing 32 Coding da Vinci scholarships. 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.
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. This project is the only one of its kind in Europe and is organised by the Theater Dortmund, 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.