Concerns and criticism about the award procedure for multi-year funding – Open letter

Award procedure reveals regression in theatre funding

Open letter from the interest groups ID_Frankfurt e.V. and laPROF Hessen e.V. on the awarding procedure for the 2- and 4-year subsidies by the Cultural Office of the City of Frankfurt am Main

For a very long time, Frankfurt theatre professionals were left in the dark about their funding from 1 January 2020. It was not until 23 August 2019 that the Department of Culture sent out the Magistrate’s award proposal for the 2 and 4-year funding to the applicants. The notifications for individual project funding from January 2020 are still pending.

ID_Frankfurt e.V. and laPROF Hessen e.V. call on the Department of Culture to take a stand on the following points of criticism:

 Unacceptable length of the procedure:Why, even after 4 years of introducing the new funding instrument, are the administrative procedures so lengthy that independent theatres and theatre professionals are only informed about their professional future four months before funding begins? With an application deadline in February of the previous year, a 6-month processing time is unreasonable. Not only for the professional planning of the applicants, but also to guarantee professional preparation and implementation of the projects and programmes applied for.
 Lack of transparency of funding decisions and their bases:The press release of the Department of Culture of 23 August leaves many questions unanswered: it does not provide information on how many theatres and theatre professionals have applied for multi-year funding, nor how high the total funding volume applied for was.

Furthermore, the funding recommendations of the Theatre Advisory Board are missing.
In 2015, a five-member theatre advisory board was appointed to base the allocation of funds on a qualitative analysis of the theatre scene in Frankfurt. While it was possible to compare the actual funding amounts with the funding recommendations of the Theatre Advisory Board during the last allocation, any differences can no longer be reconstructed this time. The list only shows what appears to be the final amount. ID_Frankfurt and laPROF, who have campaigned for years for the establishment of the Theatre Advisory Board and very much welcome its work on qualitative criteria, must unfortunately note a considerable step backwards in terms of transparency here. Information about the funding recommendation would allow a minimum of comprehensibility of the theatre advisory board’s discussions. For the further development of Frankfurt’s independent theatre scene, even a more comprehensive publication of the theatre advisory board’s analyses could be a valuable tool that has gone unused so far.

Unspoken reduction in individual project fundingThe Magistrate’s proposal for the allocation of funding reveals, on the basis of the figures alone, that 155,000 euros have been shifted from the previous individual project funding to the 2 to 4 year funding. The obvious funding gap in the area of multi-year funding is being compensated for in a purely cosmetic way at the expense of individual project funding. Although this tacit reduction of individual project funding from 515,000 euros to 360,000 euros means considerable cuts for the production possibilities of the independent scene, the Department of Culture has not yet provided any justification for this.
In addition, all theatre professionals who have applied for the multi-year funding from 2020 onwards have been asked by the cultural office at very short notice during the ongoing procedure to submit an application for individual project funding for the first half of 2020 by 1 July 2019 “just to be on the safe side”. Assuming that a number of applications for multi-year funding were not considered, a considerable additional demand in the area of individual project funding is already to be expected. It is therefore irresponsible to tacitly cut the shortfall of 155,000 euros from individual project funding instead of making additional funds available. Individual project funding, which is so elementary for artistic production in Frankfurt, is thus considerably weakened as an instrument instead of being successively expanded – as would be absolutely necessary for the further development of the scene.
Deficit in the differentiation of funding instruments 

The publication of the magistrate’s proposal for the award of funding and the aforementioned postponement of funding show that a problem that has already been criticised several times in the past is becoming increasingly acute: there is a lack of prudent differentiation of funding instruments.
Both permanent venues and independent groups and individual artists apply for multi-year funding. In this way, institutional funding and conceptual funding are mixed up with each other and the applicants enter into an unequal competition, since the very different individual needs and requirements cannot be compared with each other.


In view of these high