Around 380 funded cultural projects in the region, supported with funds in the double-digit millions: this is the impressive balance sheet of the past 25 years in which culture in Münsterland has been supported by the state funding programme "Regional Cultural Policy". In the meantime, it is impossible to imagine the Münsterland without the programme. Its mission for the next 25 years is to support creative, crazy, committed, small and large cultural projects. And with a new name and logo: the "Regional Cultural Policy" becomes the "Regional Culture Programme" (RKP).
The principle is that the state of North Rhine-Westphalia supports regional cultural projects financially. To receive funding, cultural practitioners must submit an application to their respective district government. The regional cultural offices provide advice and help with the application process.
"We want the programme to be used. Our job is to get the money to the people," Andre Sebastian summarises. He heads the Münsterland Cultural Office, which coordinates the funding programme for the region. "Our cultural practitioners have so many good ideas, but of course they have to be financed. The Regional Culture Programme is the best way to do this and has made many good cultural projects possible over the past 25 years. Surely the cultural landscape in Münsterland would not be as rich and diverse as it is now otherwise."
Lars Krolik from the Cultural Office also remembers the past years: "The fact that the funding programme has been around for so long is a success story. In the beginning, only a few cultural practitioners from the region applied for funding, and often it was always the same actors. Now we have an average of 30 to almost 40 applications per year, of which about 20 are approved. We are also pleased that the field has become broader: In addition to established institutions, many smaller groups, associations and individual artists also apply for funds."
The tasks of the cultural office have also changed. Whereas in the beginning it was a lot about mediating between the administration and the arts and explaining the application process, today the focus is more on marketing to make the programme even better known. "Both sides have moved towards each other," says Andre Sebastian. "The administration is now trying to be as bureaucracy-free and customer-oriented as possible, and the arts and culture professionals have further educated themselves and acquired the necessary tools." Digitalisation has also made the application process easier. The new name of the programme is also intended to break down barriers.
The cross-section through the funding projects of the last 25 years also shows what has moved and still moves cultural actors in Münsterland: the examination of socially relevant issues runs like a thread through the projects. In addition, the tension between city and countryside is characteristic of Münsterland. "There have always been mobile cultural formats that specifically play in rural areas, such as 'Wald und Wiesen Kultur', 'sozialpalast Music Convoy' or 'Spielzeit Münsterland'," says Sebastian. "In a city like Münster, there is a completely different and denser cultural infrastructure in terms of art and culture than anywhere else in Münsterland. In addition, there are the corresponding educational institutions such as the art academy, the music academy or the theatre education centres. That's why projects that promote the exchange between what's on offer in the city and in the countryside help us enormously as a region. Many actors have only discovered the Münsterland and thus a whole new audience through the Regional Culture Programme.
This also gives the cultural office an outlook for the next few years: "We hope that even more people working in the arts and culture will take advantage of the programme and realise their ideas," says Lars Krolik. "In our experience, cooperative projects with inter-communal or regional collaboration bring real added value." With the Münsterland Festival, Krolik has himself been running an RKP project for several years that takes place throughout the region and has numerous partners. "Cooperation can be exhausting, but at the same time lead to win-win situations in many areas if both sides are serious about it and act as equals."
The Corona pandemic has been a game changer for cultural practitioners and will continue to play a role in the years to come. Andre Sebastian: "In addition to questions of sustainability, accessibility, diversity, mediation or self-marketing, the Corona pandemic has added another level to the situation: that of existence. The decisive factor will be how art and culture recover from the crisis. This is where the Regional Culture Programme can provide support."
More information on the currently funded projects is available at www.muensterland.com/regionales-kultur-programm. A cross-section of all cultural projects ever funded will be presented on 21 May at the cultural festival "Ein Kessel Buntes" on the grounds of the Mühlenhof in Münster. More information will be available soon at www.muensterland.com/ein-kessel-buntes.
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