In 2015 the Federal Cultural Foundation launched the programme TRAFO – Models for Culture in Transformation to support processes of transformation in the cultural infrastructure of four rural areas in Germany. The programme awarded funding to transformation projects in the Oderbruch, Saarpfalz, Swabian Alb and Southern Lower Saxony regions which, in cooperation with local residents, have made great strides in further developing public cultural venues in their respective regions. Experience shows that three criteria are especially key to achieving success. First, strong alliances between municipal agencies, cultural organisations and local artists, as well as cooperation across community lines and artistic genres. Second, a strong desire among the staff and management of cultural organisations to actively shape and identify with processes of transformation. And third, a focus on participation-based artistic projects which make lengthy and detailed processes more visible and promote public acceptance.
In response to a growing interest in developing cultural perspectives in rural areas in Germany, the Federal Cultural Foundation has expanded the TRAFO programme to include more federal states in two phases. In the development phase of TRAFO 2, the nine states which have not yet been eligible to participate in the programme – Bavaria, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia – are invited to recommend two regions in their respective states which have been adversely impacted by demographic change, but still maintain publicly funded cultural institutions. These selected regions should then develop new ideas for their own transformation projects with support from the TRAFO programme office. The development phase concludes in summer 2019, at which time the regions should apply for transformation project funding. An independent jury will review the submissions and select five project proposals for the implementation phase. These should consist of innovative approaches which aim to (1.) transform selected cultural organisations, (2.) build regional alliances, and (3.) initiate processes of artistic participation. The TRAFO Academy will continue meeting in one of the model regions every six months in order to promote communication and knowledge transfer between the TRAFO projects.
In September 2018 participants have been invited to an interdisciplinary congress in Halle to develop ideas for cultural organisational models in rural areas.
The Federal Cultural Foundation has allocated start-up funding for the participating regions totalling up to 40,000 euros to finance the development phase of TRAFO 2. For the implementation phase, the Foundation will award each region up to 1.25 million euros from 2019 to 2023.