Skip to content

Pathways Into Theatre

"Culture makes you strong. Alliances for Education."

The Federal Ministry for Education and Research's funding programme "Culture makes you strong. Alliances for Education" funds cultural education projects for children and young people

The ASSITEJ's "Culture makes you strong" funding programme

ASSITEJ Germany funds educational theatre projects for young audiences as a part of the “Pathways into Theatre” (German: Wege ins Theater) programme. It is a requirement for the projects to target children and young people between the ages of three and eighteen, who have previously had no access to cultural education. The projects are carried out by “alliances” that consist of at least three partner organisations.

The educational theatre projects in the field of performing arts combine seeing, performing, and talking about theatre, and allow educationally disadvantaged children and young people to receive a cultural education.

The idea behind the funding programme is for local organisations and institutions to team up with cooperation partners in educational alliances, so that they can carry out a project together. The cooperation partners bring not only their knowledge to the project, but also resources as a form of personal contribution. For example, this can include contact to a target group, permanently employed staff, rooms in which to carry out the project, and technical equipment for the project presentation.

Projects can only be funded if they take place outside of normal teaching hours. This means that it is forbidden to fund projects which, for instance, have taken place in the autumn term for several years. It is also prohibited to fund projects in which school children are obliged to take part because they form a part of the school curriculum. Up to 100% of the project-related costs can be financed.

Theatres or cultural institutions (such as youth art schools or art associations), social organisations (like youth centres, district centres, sociocultural centres, and so on), and municipal institutions like education offices or specialised youth work services are eligible to apply. Applicants must have a legal status (e.g. GbR, GmbH, or similar). Schools or kindergartens are not able to submit applications, but can join an alliance as a partner.

With the “Culture makes you strong. Alliances for education” programme, the Federal Ministry for Education and Research funds extracurricular projects in cultural education for children and young people who otherwise have little access to such opportunities. 27 partners from education, culture, and social services implement the programme and either fund local projects that educational alliances apply for, or carry out such projects with local partners. The Ministry provides more than 50 million euros a year and, in doing so, contributes to more educational opportunities in Germany. More about the programme and opportunities to apply can be found hier:

General Information

“Pathways into Theatre” funds educational theatre projects within the performing arts. Over the course of two to three deadlines per year, a specialised jury composed of five people evaluates all of the submitted project applications.

“Pathways into Theatre” funds 100% of project-related costs. There are three types of expenses which the programme covers:

  1. Fees for professional experts
  2. Expense allowances for volunteers
  3. Material costs for equipment, catering, and marketing work

Other expenses can be eligible for funding if the project takes place in a rural area, has additional requirements for inclusiveness and accessibility, or relies heavily on media and technology.

Applications can only be made in German. Projects must be carried out within Germany. Advice in English is, however, possible. In this instance, please contact us first by email.

Application and implementation

Project format overview

Pathways into Theatre offers 4 different project formats:

Theatre explorers (Theater-Entdecker*innen)… for your first contact with theatre.

This format works as a project week, or can be organised in a more intensive and concentrated form over several weeks. It is well-suited as an introductory project.

Theater players (Theater-Spieler*innen)… for regular theatre acting.

This format takes place on a regular basis over a longer period of time, though in some cases it is possible to plan more concentrated work phases. The project may last a maximum of one year.

Theatre decision makers (Theater-Entscheider*innen)… to help shape institutions and/or social spaces.

“Theatre decision makers” play a role in making the decisions that are otherwise made by adult colleagues. They can select who will win a prize as a youth jury, or they can choose which guest performances to stage as part of a group of child curators. This is also suitable as a pathway to found child and youth advisory boards.

Theatre trip (Theater-Reise)… for a more intensive rehearsal.

In addition to the above-listed formats, it is also possible to apply for a theatre excursion, where the participants, project staff, and the volunteer carers (if applicable) can travel somewhere in order to carry out research or rehearsals, or simply to experiment in some way.

FAQs – frequently asked questions about Wege ins Theater

The questions listed below are regularly edited and expanded upon. Please contact us if you have any questions that are not already answered here.

Is it possible to make an application in English?

No, applications can only be made in German. Questions about the application process can also be asked in English – please contact us by email in this instance.

Who can make an application?

Theatres or cultural institutions (such as youth art schools or art associations) or social organisations (like youth centres, district centres, sociocultural centres, and so on) can apply. Municipal institutions like education offices or specialised youth work services are also eligible. Applicants must have a legal status (e.g. GbR, GmbH, or similar). Business associations, private companies, individuals and councils are not eligible.

Schools and universities, as well as day-care centres and after-school care centres, are excluded from the application process for formal reasons.

What conditions apply when making an application as a GbR?

Under certain conditions, GbRs can make an application. However, it is worth considering whether it is worth applying as a GbR, as most GbRs have neither the infrastructure nor the personnel to provide as part of their personal contribution to a project. Money used to pay fees or expense allowances may not be considered as personal contributions.

The following conditions must be fulfilled when the applicant is a GbR:

  1. The GbR must submit a GbR contract with the application, in which all members are listed with their names and signatures. It must also submit bank statements which prove that the GbR has a business account. (The funding may not be paid into a private account.)
  2. The GbR must appoint one member as a managing director (for example, as an addition to the GbR contract), who will act as the sole representative in dealings with the ASSITEJ. The managing director may not be paid any fees or expenses in relation to the project.
  3. The GbR must formally declare to the ASSITEJ this it will not be disbanded before an audit of the expense reports is completed.
What requirements must an alliance fulfil?

An alliance consists of three institutional partners, who all work together on the project. One of these partners is the applicant, who manages the project for the alliance and signs the grant agreement with the ASSITEJ after it has been approved, in which the funding and its conditions are laid out. The applicant also takes responsibility for commissioning and paying people for the project, as well as for the expense report at the end.

The other alliance partners each bring personal contributions to the project, such as, for example, providing rooms or staff. No money is paid for these personal contributions. One partner should have direct access to the target group for the project, for example by being a youth centre, a school, or a district centre. One possible contribution from an alliance partner can be, for instance, a social education worker, one who has a good rapport to the children and youth in the target group, and who can encourage their participation.

The most important questions to consider when looking for partners are: what do we need for our project? Who can support us? It is also worth considering less obvious institutions and firms. A farm can provide expertise on food, a waste management company can support a project on rubbish, or a beekeepers’ association can inform one on bees.

What’s important is that none of the alliance partners earn any income or profits through the project.

In the event of a positive decision from the jury, the alliance will draw up a cooperation agreement (using an ASSITEJ template), in which the contributions will be written out. This agreement is then signed, thereby making the commitment legally binding.

What does "in high-risk financial, social or educational situations" mean in the context of "Culture makes you strong"?

“Culture makes you strong” funds projects for children and young people who grew up in high-risk financial, social, or educational situations, and who are therefore educationally disadvantaged. This includes children who, for instance, have parents affected by unemployment, who have few formal qualifications, or who receive benefits due to having an insufficient income. The “Pathways into Theatre” team checks the project description to see if the project focuses on children and young people. High-risk situations can be described using statistics regarding the location or region of a town or city in which the project is meant to take place (for example, on the quantity of social housing, or the proportion of the population in unemployment or receiving benefits), or through information from the sociospatial alliance partner(s). For example, a participating school can give concrete details on which specific high-risk situations affect students, because their parents cannot pay for school trips or meals, or because there are language barriers in communication with them, or because they do not have the resources to support their children’s learning. In the 2023-2027 funding round, “Culture makes you strong” has included disabled children and/or children with refugee experience in their target groups. A specialised budget is available in order to implement more inclusive projects.

The ASSITEJ would like to encourage applicants to avoid stigmatising groups of people, and to instead name the structural barriers and high-risk situations that affect them.

Please avoid descriptions of educational disadvantages and generalisations of people such as “socially deprived” or “uneducated”.

Coming from an immigrant background does not necessarily count as a high-risk situation, even when there is a partial correlation. Having refugee experience is, however, explicitly named as such. The methodology for the project must clearly demonstrate how the theatre work will exclude the possibility of retraumatisation, for example, in biographical work.

What does "funding of 100% of expenditure" mean?

The “Pathways into Theatre” funding in the framework of “Culture makes you strong” covers up to 100% of project-related expenses. This means that expenses such as, for example, fees for theatre facilitators, purchased materials for theatre work, travel costs, and marketing can all be completely paid for from the requested funding. It is a requirement to prove that the money has actually been used on concrete expenses. Internal receipts from the applicant or other alliance partners are not acceptable.

Expenses for ongoing costs that would be incurred regardless of whether the project took place are excluded from the funding. This includes permanent staff, rooms rented on a long-term-basis, pro-rata costs for electricity or infrastructure, and so on.

Theatre tickets from applicants or alliance partners that are provided for free to participants are also ineligible for funding, because they qualify as lost income rather than expenses. Tickets should therefore be included by applicants or alliance partners as a form of personal contribution. Tickets for theatres and cultural events that do not form a part of the alliance can be funded through the project.

In contrast to other funding programmes, it is not a requirement to include third-party funds from other funding bodies.

What exactly is meant by "extracurricular"?

KMS_3_Infoblatt_Ausserschulischkeit (only available in German)

“Pathways into Theatre” projects can be carried out in close cooperation with schools. School lessons are not, however, eligible for funding. Any projects funded through this programme must therefore be clearly and practically demarcated from the normal school curriculum.

For projects that take place in cooperation with schools, the following rules apply:

  1. The project organiser is an extracurricular body from a local alliance, who is responsible for planning and carrying out projects. This is the case when the following criteria are fulfilled:
    • The extracurricular body is the applicant who receives and administers the funding
    • It is responsible for the project organisation.
    • It is authorised to communicate with personnel, issue tasks to paid employees, and coordinate the volunteers.
    • It also assumes responsibility for supervising the participating pupils.
    • It specifies the programme’s content, goals, procedures and methods.
  2. The project is designed as an additional and extracurricular programme if the following criteria are fulfilled:
    • The project is neither part of the regular timetable (as determined by the respective state) nor part of the whole-day programme (as financed by the respective state or local authority).
    • The project is not part of the respective state’s core curriculum or syllabus.
    • Participation in the project does not count towards a final grade.
    • The schoolchildren, or those receiving an education at the institution, are free to decide whether or not they participate in the programme on offer. (Regarding voluntary participation in whole-day programmes, see point 3.)
    • The project is an additional offer, which means it did not exist in its current form at the participating school, and was not previously funded by other means.
    • Small, one-off taster sessions may be organised during the school day in order to encourage pupils to take part in future projects. The degree of flexibility should be discussed between the applicant and other programme partners before the project begins.
  3. A project in the framework of a whole-day programme, whether open or with compulsory attendance, is eligible for funding, so long as the requirements under points 1 and 2 are fulfilled. To explain in detail:
    • The project may only be carried out in the whole-day programmes’ time slots in which the respective participants have no curricular lessons, remedial classes, or any other offers that could be understood within the context of the school curriculum.
    • Voluntary participation in a project means the choice between a “Culture makes you strong” programme, free time, or, if applicable, another offer from the whole-day programme, such as other projects, working groups, or free play. Voluntary participation also allows participants to leave a project before it is due to end, and to instead participate in an alternative programme offer.
    • The project must be an additional offer, meaning that it was not previously carried out within the framework of the whole-day programme. This means that a project that was previously funded by whole-day programme funds may not then be funded by “Culture makes you strong”.
    • Whether offers are eligible for funding or not is unaffected by whether it is an open whole-day programme or one with compulsory attendance. The relevant criteria for deciding funding eligibility are in points 1 and 2, and must be fulfilled.
  4. Courses, workshops, taster sessions, and similar offers from “Culture makes you strong” can also be integrated into project days and weeks, which can be carried out in schools. Participation in projects days and weeks may be eligible for funding, when the criteria from points 1 and 2 are fulfilled. To explain in detail:
    • The voluntary participation in “Culture makes you strong” projects within the framework of project days and projects weeks in schools, when taken into consideration with compulsory attendance in schools, means pupils who may not want to take part in “Culture makes you strong” projects must take part in another project or another class during this time.
    • The responsibility for any taught content, goals, project procedures or methods for the “Culture makes you strong” project lies entirely with the extracurricular body.
  5. The obligatory cooperation agreements with the schools involved contain a description of the planned projects, as well as details of the above-mentioned division of tasks.


What does "new" and "additional" mean?

Projects which are funded by “Culture makes you strong” must be new and additional projects. This means that projects which were previously funded, either through one’s own resources or through third-party funds, are not eligible for funding. For example, a festival that has taken place every year for the past ten years cannot receive funding from “Pathways into Theatre”. If the projects that were previously funded took place in a different form, it must then be clearly explained how the current one differs from its previous incarnations; for example, if a holiday workshop that took place in previous years is planned again, it should be explained how the project, for instance, is oriented towards a new target group, or how it involves cooperation with the other alliance partners for the first time, and so on, in order for it to qualify.

“New” and “additional” does not mean that the project needs to be especially innovative.

Is there anything in particular to note when working with kindergartens or daycare centres?

KMS_3_Voraussetzungen_Kita (only available in German)

“Pathways into Theatre” projects can take place in close cooperation with daycare centres, kindergartens, or after-school care centres. The regular childcare service that these institutions offer may not be replaced by these projects.

Eligible cultural education projects must therefore be clearly differentiated from the regular care given by the institution. The following points therefore apply:

  • The project which is funded by “Culture makes you strong” is an additional offer, meaning the usual care groups continue to run unchanged and in parallel.
  • Running the project is the responsibility of qualified, external personnel. The staff in the care institution are able to supervise the project, so long as they are not paid through the project funding, and they are not needed to care for the other groups in the institution.
  • The decision to participate in a “Culture makes you strong” project is decided by or for each child individually.
  • Projects that are consistently included in the day’s or week’s schedule over a long period of time (three months or more), and which can be used by all children being cared for at the institution, are not eligible for funding.
  • The cooperation agreements that are required between all alliance partners should include a description of the planned project, as well as information on how the project will be differentiated from the regular timetable.
What is the difference between "Culture makes you strong“ und Pathways into Theatre?

“Culture makes you strong. Alliance for education” is a funding programme from the Federal Ministry for Education and Research. The ministry works with 27 different partners to implement this cultural education programme, with each partner having developed their own focus under the umbrella of “Culture makes you strong”. The ASSITEJ is one of those 27 partners. In addition to “Pathways into Theatre”, there are a large number of other funding opportunities, in the field of theatre as well as other areas.

Information on all of the different “Culture makes you strong” funding programmes can be found here:

What is the difference between CULTURAL RESET and "Culture makes you strong"?

CULTURAL RESET (NEUSTART KULTUR) was an emergency rescue programme, as well as a plan for the future, developed by the Federal Ministry for Culture and Media in response to the Coronavirus crisis. Cultural institutions which had little or no recourse to public funds could reopen through this support.

The programme CULTURAL RESET – Young Audiences (NEUSTART KULTUR – Junges Publikum) was developed for professional practitioners in performing arts for young audiences. It helped the artists and theatres who received the funding to both maintain and further develop their artistic practice.

The focus of “Culture makes you strong” is the children and young people. “Pathways into Theatre” funds theatre projects for children and young people, aged 3 to 18, who grew up in high-risk social, financial, or educational situations. Disabled children and/or children with refugee experience are explicitly part of the target group.

Under certain conditions, it is possible to fund guest performances in a social space within the project. However, productions or new production concepts are ineligible for funding. Applications from solo artists are also, unfortunately, not permitted within this funding programme.


ProQua is a project from the Academy of Cultural Education for the Federal Government and the State of North-Rhine Westphalia (Akademie der Kulturellen Bildung des Bundes und des Landes NRW e. V). The project provides specialised educational support for “Culture makes you strong” funding programmes around the country.

ProQua holds specialist conferences, on a national and regional scale, covering interdisplinary topics as well as overarching issues in the field of cultural education. The events are aimed at professionals, facilitators, and volunteers. ProQua works in a practical, cooperative, and decentralised manner, and undertakes activities throughout Germany. The content and focus of these conferences is orientated around quality improvements, as well as the interests of the local alliances within “Culture makes you strong”. The main goal of Proqua is to improve educational opportunities for disadvantaged children and young people through successful cultural education in informal and leisure-oriented contexts, by offering continuing professional development measures for those responsible for and working in the cultural education sector.


How to receive updates on Pathways into Theatre

Please register here if you would like to receive regular information on “Pathways into Theatre”. We use this information solely for the purpose of informing you about the programme, and do not pass it on to third parties. You can remove yourself from the mailing list at any time. Your data will immediately be deleted.

Contact information

+49 69 – 34 87 33 84

Mon-Thurs 10-2pm

If you would like more information about possible projects within the  programme, please contact us via email so we can set aside some time for you. Funding applications have to be made in German; however, we can provide advice in English if necessary.

Wege ins Theater
Schützenstraße 12
60311 Frankfurt am Main


Jennifer Köhler (she/her)
Project manager Wege ins Theater

Nele Beinborn (she/her)
Deputy project manager Wege ins Theater

Julia Abdennadeur (she/her)
Project accountant Wege ins Theater