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Commitment to move forward

The National Performance Network

This article was commissioned by the  Korean Arts Management Services and originally published in Korean  for the – a database website for the global exchange of performing arts, a project supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Republic of Korea.

Gob Squad’s “Kitchen,” © David Baltzer

The National Performance Network (NPN) was established in 1999 by six German dance organisers in pursuit of creating sustainable structural support system for contemporary dance in Germany. Thereby, opening greater accessibility for the trans-regional audiences of dance productions. During the early days of NPN, its primary focus was on the promotion of ongoing exchanges for dance productions within Germany by providing support for guest performances. Having gained the confidence and support from the German Federal Government and 15 German Federal States, NPN currently propagates parallel development of co-productions and touring performances in the fields of contemporary dance and theatre. The financial resources of the NPN Touring Performances come directly from The Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media (Dance and Theatre); Ministry of Science, Research and Art Baden-Württemberg (Dance and Theatre); Bavarian State Ministry for Science, Research and Arts (Dance and Theatre); The Governing Mayor of Berlin – Senate Chancellery – Cultural Affairs (Dance and Theatre); Ministry of Science, Research and Culture of Brandenburg (Dance and Theatre); City of Bremen – The senator for culture (dance and theater); City of Hamburg – Ministry of Culture and Media (Dance and Theatre); Hessian Ministry for Science and the Arts (Dance and Theatre); Ministry of Education, Science and Culture Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Dance and Theatre); Lower Saxony Ministry for Science and Culture (dance and theater); Ministry of Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sports of North Rhine-Westphalia (Dance and Theatre); Ministry of Education, Science, Youth and Culture, Rheinland-Pfalz (dance); Saxon State Ministry of Science and Arts (Dance and Theatre); Ministry of Culture of Saxony-Anhalt (Dance and Theatre); Ministry of Education and Culture of the Land Schleswig-Holstein (Theatre); and Thuringian Ministry of Education, Science and Culture (dance and theatre).

NPN maintains a unique framework as a cooperative venture in Germany. Its network partners are composed of performing arts professionals connected with reputable institutions/groups.  The Network Partners for Dance are as follows: Pirkko Husemann, Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin (Berlin), Walter Heun, JOINT ADVENTURES, München (Bayern), Amelie Deuflhard (interim), Kampnagel Hamburg (Hamburg), Dieter Buroch, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt am Main (Hessen), Bertram Müller, tanzhaus nrw, Düsseldorf (NRW) and Jörg Fischer, Theater im Pfalzbau, Ludwigshafen (Rheinland-Pfalz). With Heike Albrecht, Sophiensaele (Berlin), Michael Bader, Tafelhalle im KunstKulturQuartier, Nürnberg (Bayern), Dieter Buroch, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt am Main (Hessen), Amelie Deuflhard, Kampnagel (Hamburg), Jörg Fischer, Theater im Pfalzbau, Ludwigshafen (Rheinland-Pfalz), Walter Heun, JOINT ADVENTURES, München (Bayern), Katharina Husemann, schloss bröllin e.V. (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), Sascha Koal, Landesverband Freier Theater Baden-Württemberg e.V. (Baden-Württemberg), Anja Dirks, Festival THEATERFORMEN (Niedersachsen), Roman Rösener (Thüringen), and Kathrin Tiedemann, Forum Freies Theater e.V., Düsseldorf (NRW) representing the network partners for theatre. 

With to the continued growth of NPN Dance Support for Touring Performances (NPN-Tanz Gastspiel), the NPN Co-production Support (NPN Koproduktionsförderung) was set-up in 2005, followed by the NPN Theatre Support for Guest Performances (NPN-Theater Gastspielförderung) in 2009. The NPN Impulsförderung, on the other hand, has successfully generated impressive outcomes from the time of inception in 2003. It is being carried out for the first time in 2011 to support theatre productions in Bayern and Bremen, and dance productions in Brandenburg. Through these programmes, not only does the NPN contribute to a lively exchange amongst the different regions in Germany, but also enriching and balancing the presence of the performing arts scene in varied municipalities in the country.

Organisers, production centres, private, municipal and state theatres, festivals, universities, cultural offices, companies and individual performing artists are eligible to apply. Based on the following criteria, funds are awarded to either dance or theatre for co-productions and touring performances:  1) artistic quality of production; 2) inter-regional significance of the creative work; 3) assured professional organisation and implementation as well as provision of properly equipped venue; 4) compliance to the fee structures set by the NPN (i.e. payment of professional fees, travel, accommodation and per diem costs); 5) balanced financial contributions from the partners. A jury, composed of an independent panel of experts from the field of dance and theatre, decides on the selection. The jurors for NPN Dance 2011 are Eva-Maria Hoerster (Berlin), Joachim Gerstmeier (Munich, Bavaria), Dr. Janine Schulze (Leipzig, Saxony), Nicole Strecker (Cologne, NRW) and Anne Kersting (Hamburg). While the jurors NPN Theater 2011 are Esther Boldt (NRW), Gabriella Lorenz  (Bavaria), Henning Fülle (Berlin), Ralf-Carl Langhals (Baden-Württemberg) and Klaus Witzeling (Hamburg).

Within the framework of Tanzplan Deutschland[i], a five-year initiative of the German Federal Cultural Foundation[ii], NPN Dance Support for Co-productions was set-up in 2005.  The funding provided by the German Federal Cultural Foundation has enabled the NPN to expand its guest performance funding to include 900,000 Euros of co-production funding over an extended period of six years (2005-2011). This supports domestic and international co-productions in the field of contemporary dance in Germany. It encourages the national exchange of contemporary dance by funding cross-state cooperative ventures between event organisers and dance groups. Applicants are required to forge collaborations between two organisations from different German states with a foreign partner, or between a West German and East German partners.  Cultural operators, producers, companies as well as artists are eligible to apply for this funding regardless of their nationality.  It is essential, however, that the project be realised and presented in Germany. The recipient from this NPN support can defray a maximum of 50% of the production expenses.

Over this short period, NPN co-production was able to support 35 artists in their artistic activities and 56 co-productions with 850 performances in 30 countries. NPN guest performance funding, on the other hand, supported a total of 89 events: 44 (dance), 45 (theatre); assisted 271 productions: 105 (dance), 166 (theatre); 96 benefited companies: 44 (dance), 52 (theatre); and reached 13,000 audiences for both disciplines in the year 2010 alone.

Xavier le Roy’s “Le Sacre du Printemps,” ©Vincent Cavaroc

However, despite NPN’s commitment to move forward and its visible achievements, the flow of financial backing for NPN Dance Co-production Support is under threat of discontinuance for the upcoming years. The German Federal Cultural Foundation support has been (momentarily) suspended. To actively engage the community and respond to the situation, the Dance Federation in Germany (Deutscher Dachverband Tanz[iii]) has issued an online petition to the Federal Government to secure the future of this progressive programme for dance makers. To date, 1037 individuals have voluntarily signed this petition — appealing to policy makers. [iv] Considering that NPN works on multi-level, cross-state and international partnerships involving organisers, dance and theatre groups, state-funded as well as independent performing artists, one would expect that those in the position of power would have already had in their good senses a valuable calculation of the association’s contribution to dance development especially after 12 years of existence.

According to Walter Heun[v], NPN’s co-founder and Project Director,  “This petition is only about the 6-year co-production fund from the “Bundeskulturstiftung” to establish a budget directly from the Ministry for Arts and Media (BKM) to prolong a successful funding scheme. Gathering more than 1,000 signatures shortly before Christmas (and two weeks after) is a very good response. This ranges in the first 10 among the other petitions to the Federal Government around same time frame. The result is outstanding – given the fact that it’s only 8-10 individual artists having direct benefit from it per year.” If a general accounting is to be made, perhaps a good argument for the necessity of federal investment can be computed beyond the simplified figures of its direct beneficiaries.  Instead look into the impact and influence it had past, present and future.  To put it concretely, when long-term funding requires justification, the math can be done from the time of NPN’s conception; illustrate what NPN has generated over the 6-year period it was structurally funded for the dance co-productions; provide a vision what awaits the dance artists continuously working as cultural ambassadors for Germany; and tabulate the resonance it has had and can still give to audiences within national and international spheres.  In reference to the petition, Heun expresses his optimism over the figures saying, “So after all this is a big success! Now, it will be important to use it to back up the political initiatives to establish that budget of approximately € 250.000 in 2012.”

About the Writer: Vanini Belarmino is a Berlin-based producer and curator specialising interdisciplinary exchange and cross-border collaborations. She is the Founder and Managing Director of Belarmino&Partners, an international project management and promotions consultancy for arts and culture<

Notes and Links:

[i] See article on Tanzplan Deutschland in Korean<

[ii] See article on Bundeskulturstiftung in Korean <

[iii]Dance Federation Germany <

[iv] If you wish to sign-up for the petition for the NPN Dance Co-production Support, you may do so here <;petition=14455;sa=sign/

[v] Walter Heun is a dance producer and organiser. In 1990, founded JOINT ADVENTURES, a Munich-based agency actively engaged in dance development and promotion. For more information, visit<

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