Special Grants of the Akademie der Künste for Artists

The call for applications has been closed.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, damage on an unprecedented scale has been caused in all areas of art production. Numerous artists now find themselves in precarious situations. As part of the NEUSTART KULTUR programme launched by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, the Akademie der Künste is awarding the INITIAL Special Grant for the research and development of art and works in all artistic fields. The purpose of the grants is to safeguard and facilitate art production and to provide the basis and incentive for long-term artistic projects whose preparation and development have been hampered during the pandemic.

Based on the six sections of the Akademie der Künste, the grant is targeting artists working professionally in the fields of the visual arts, architecture, literature, music, performing arts, and film and media arts / audio plays, as well as emerging artists who have arrived on the scene with their first works. The programme is endowed with a total of € 5 million. 791 grants of € 6,000 will be awarded over a period of 4 months (October 2021 to the end of January 2022). The selection is made by seven juries composed of Akademie members. A maximum of 1,000 artists can apply in each art section and the category that supports young, emerging talent. Afterwards, each section’s application portal will close ‒ at the latest on 15 July 2021.

FAQ – Questions and Answers About the INITIAL Special Grant

The goal of the INITIAL grant is to support the research and development of artistic works. The grant serves to foster, protect, and facilitate artistic works. It is the foundation as well as an impetus for artistic projects whose preparation and development was impeded during the COVID-19 pandemic. The artistic quality of previous works as well as the potential of the project proposal will be decisive factors for the selection of grant recipients.

Following the six Sections of the Akademie der Künste, the grant is aimed at artists working in the fields of visual arts, architecture, literature, music, performing arts, film and media arts as well as younger, emerging artists who live in Germany and have just begun publicly presenting their works (the JUNGE AKADEMIE of the Akademie der Künste).

Artists are considered professional if they meet the following criteria:

  • They can demonstrate membership in a professional association of artists in one of the disciplines specified above or in the Künstlersozialkasse (artists’ health and social insurance), or
  • They hold a degree from a German university or art academy or from a comparable institution abroad (as specified on the anabin list), or
  • They can demonstrate a professional contemporary artistic practice that has been established for several years.

No, unfortunately students are not eligible for the grant.

A total of 791 grants will be awarded.

Each grant is endowed with 6,000 euros.

An open call for applications is being held from 15 June to 15 July 2021. A maximum of 1,000 artists can apply in each art section and the category that supports young, emerging talent. Afterwards, each section’s application portal will close ‒ at the latest on 15 July 2021.

Applications must be submitted online:

A maximum of 1,000 applications will be accepted per artistic section and in the category of emerging artists.

On your application you are required to provide information about yourself and your professional artistic status (see question 2). In addition, a conceptual outline or proposal for your project, a portfolio and/or documentational and informational material about previous artistic work as well as your CV are required.

To change to the application portal’s German web pages, please switch the language button on the upper right. Set the language button to EN-GB – English (British) to view in German.

No, only one application can be filed per artistic section or as an emerging artist.

Seven juries will select the grant recipients (one per art section as well as one for the Akademie der Künste’s JUNGE AKADEMIE). The artistic quality of previous works, as well as the potential of the proposed project, are decisive factors for the selection of grant recipients. In addition, the selection of grant recipients will be made according to specific criteria determined separately for each section. Equal treatment of men and women is part of these criteria.

The specific criteria for each art section can be found on the INITIAL programme page.

You will be informed about whether or not you have been selected to receive the grant via email in mid-September.

A grant approval notification issued by the Akademie der Künste outlines the awarding of the grant, its disbursal and serves as funding documentation, which is sent by post. The grant will be disbursed to the applicant’s German bank account in two payments: 5,400 euros at the beginning of the grant period and 600 euros after the project report has been submitted by 15 February 2022. The recipient’s identity must be verified before grant payments can be made. Information on this procedure will be detailed in the approval notification.

Realisation of the proposed concept is the desired objective but is not mandatory. This grant may also be used for preparatory work.

No, the artistic work supported by the grant cannot be presented at the Akademie der Künste.

The applicant commits to documenting their artistic work made possible by the grant in a written report submitted at the end of the grant period.

The duration of the grant is from 1 October 2021 to 31 January 2022.

The project report is to be turned in online at and should not exceed 1,500 words.

The project report can only be submitted online, no later than 15 February 2022.

The project report should show how the grant has been used to research and develop an artistic work. You will receive more information on structuring the report via email at the end of the grant period.

The project report can be written in German or English.

No, an extension of the grant period is not permitted. The project report is to be submitted online, no later than 15 February 2022.

Yes, this is permitted. Please use the following phrasing: “Supported by the Akademie der Künste with funding from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as part of the NEUSTART KULTUR programme.”

No, you are not required to include any documentation of lost freelance income, bank statements etc., with your application.

Because this is a grant, we are refraining from requesting supporting financial documentation and ask only that recipients submit the grant report described above, including a description of the proper use of the funding.

Yes, the grant is open to anyone who meets the specifications outlined above. Further information regarding SGB II and basic income allowances is available on the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency) website.

It is generally permitted to apply for the grant while receiving unemployment benefits in the category Arbeitslosengeld I. In this regard, your work on your project must not compromise your availability to the workforce. Furthermore, you are not permitted to generate earnings from your project and/or if you do, you must inform the Job Centre assigned to you. Please direct any remaining questions about the combination of the grant with unemployment benefits to your supervisor at the employment agency.

No, applications for additional funding are not permitted under any circumstances.

No, the grants are not deducted from basic income allowances. Further information regarding basic income allowances can be found on the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency) website.

The grants are not intended to secure the applicant’s livelihood. They serve a higher purpose. You are expected to outline in detail how you used the funding in your grant report.

Simultaneous funding of grants and projects by other federal, state, or municipal sources and the Akademie’s special grant is not permitted, particularly if the additional financing is also received from the NEUSTART KULTUR programme.

This does not apply to private grants or if the monthly funding from a second grant programme amounts to less than 750 euros (50% of the monthly funding amount of the NEUSTART KULTUR grant); in these cases, it is permitted to combine funding from different grants regardless of their timeframes.

However, accepting the special grant does not prohibit the applicant from making use of federal funding intended to provide relief from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in another area (such as the German interim aid plan “Überbrückungshilfe”). Should the applicant be selected to receive another grant that overlaps with the time frame of the NEUSTART KULTUR grant, the application for the NEUSTART KULTUR grant must be withdrawn immediately. If awarded a NEUSTART KULTUR grant, the applicant must immediately withdraw any applications to other grants with overlapping grant periods and/or refrain from submitting applications for said other grants.
If it is subsequently determined that the applicant acted against the regulations on combining funding from different grants, detailed in the Funding Guidelines, the grant must be paid back in full during the second phase of NEUSTART KULTUR.

If used for its intended purpose, the funding does not need to be paid back. However, the grant will be revoked if the application included intentionally false information and the grant was therefore wrongfully awarded. The grant may also be revoked if the applicant’s main residence moves outside Germany before 31 January 2022 or if no grant report is submitted by 15 February 2022. In these cases, the funding is to be paid back in full immediately, including interest.

Anyone who intentionally or recklessly submits false or incomplete information to receive public funds (subsidies) earmarked for a specific purpose, or who intentionally or recklessly refrains from making changes to this information, commits subsidy fraud. Please be advised that providing wrong or incomplete information affecting funding decisions for the selection of grant recipients can amount to fraud and may be punishable as such under Sections (§§) 263, 264 of the German Penal Code (StGB) insofar as these statements were made with the intention of gaining an unlawful financial advantage for the applicant or a third party.

Payments from a non-taxable artist’s grant under Section (§) 3 no. 11 of German Income Tax Law (EStG) are to be listed on line 15 of the EÜR income tax return attachment. The expenses covered by the grant are to be detailed on the respective business expense lines according to the nature of the expenses.
Because this income is non-taxable and the associated expenses cannot be deducted, income from the grant must additionally be listed on line 92, and the expenses covered by it on line 95. This will adjust your income for tax purposes.
Please note that the INITIAL grant is non-taxable. Please direct any further tax-related questions to your local Finanzamt (finance office).

We reserve the right to verify that the funds have been used appropriately. Unless you receive further correspondence from us within six months after submitting your grant report, the period of your grant coverage is considered complete.

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