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Tanzplan Deutschland

Investing in consciousness for the future of dance in society

“Support for art and culture is not a subsidy, but an essential investment in Germany’s future.” Minister of State for Culture and the Media, Bernd Neumann[i]

This article was commissioned by the  Korean Arts Management Services and originally published in Korean  for – 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.

Investment is an operative term often used in business dealings and personal transactions. Many a times, it is in form of cash contribution or valued resources such as time, energy and effort to an activity, project or undertaking.  When an investment is made over a property, product, and idea or even on people, the investor’s objective is to earn profit, make money or gain something in return. Whatever terms of investment is made, this ought to have some measurable and visible outcome.

ImproWinter 2010, Tanzplan Dresden. Photo: Costin Radu

The thing is, unlike in business where value calculation can be made one to one, as long as profit is made consistently, it is as close as an assurance for continuation of production.  In culture and the arts, valuation of investment requires a different methodology.  Nor can the short-term visible results of an artwork, exhibition, performance, literary work, artist residency, festival or cultural exchange account for an approximate calculation in economic terms. I doubt if Cezanne’s father who was a banker thought about return of investment for supporting his son’s career as a painter over the years.  After all, the sales of Cezanne’s works came in much later in his life.   Besides, how can a tag be made over investments on artistic expressions? How can you calculate investments on people?  Can this be done simply but putting up the charts or ledger balance? Can we really measure the value of culture?

In 2005, the German Federal Cultural Foundation laid-out a sum of 12.5 Million Euros to finance a five-year dance programme called Tanzplan Deutschland. With the aim of providing more recognition and establishing dance in Germany as a art form of equal value along with opera and theatre in the eyes of the public and those responsible for cultural policy development, between 2005-2010, Tanzplan Deutschland performs as a catalyst amidst all the players.  Tanzplan Deutschland networks actors from the dance scene, providing them the space to express themselves and ensuring that cultural policy makers are listening.

Now on its fifth year, the successful programme, which has been realised in cooperation with approximately 86 institutions[ii], dance companies, artists groups, universities, spaces including local governments in nine German cities namely: Berlin, Bremen, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Essen, Hamburg, Munich and Potsdam, is coming to a close.  The question about the future of Tanzplan Deutschland is almost synonymous to the question of what will be the future of dance in Germany. Although it was clear from the beginning that this dance platform is to be set-up only for a specific period of time, what happens to the investments put in by all those involved whilst funding opportunities are sought for its continuity?

“Dance is yet seen on the same level of importance as the other art forms. If you want to change the position of dance in society, it will take more than 5 years to do that,” says Tanzplan Deutschland’s Project Director, Madeline Ritter.   “If it’s a building, there is a big political agreement. Dance is not as visible as heritage. Moreover, the dance scene in Germany is yet to be unified. We need to embark on political lobbying but there are different associations, different agendas and different sections. I see the need to bring the people around the table. We need a moderator. The question of the future is parallel with the question of who’s going to finance it?” explains Ritter.[iii]

Madeline Ritter. Photo: Bettina Stöß

Educated as lawyer, Ritter has been a key figure in setting up Tanzplan Deutschland from its conceptual development to the early talks in the different cities in Germany. She leads a small yet highly driven and competent team of five dance professionals based in Berlin, facilitating and coordinating the masses of work concerning the dance platform.   “Tanzplan Deutschland was inspired by Australia’s Dance Plan2012,[iv] Catalonia’s Strategic Plan[v], as well as Dance UK’s Manifesto[vi], which was an initiative from the grassroots level.  In Germany, however, Tanzplan Deutschland started as a top down approach rather than UK’s bottom up process.  The idea was to match the money from the Federal Government with the local budget.  Hortensia Voelkers[vii], Artistic Director of the German Federal Cultural Foundation[viii], invited curators to bring in ideas. It was an open process, not necessarily democratic nor bureaucratic.  In the beginning we (Voelkers and Ritter) travelled to 15 cities. We allocated at least 2 hours per city to discuss the premise: “We would like to introduce an idea in dance.” We brought together in one-table dance companies, politicians and dancers. They were invited to submit an idea of `What is important for your town?’ It was a person-to-person talk,” recants Tanzplan Deutschland’s director.

This was followed by intensive discussions with over two hundred representatives of cultural institutions and artists alike. Assessments were made both on local and regional situations.  From the discussions, proposals were generated by the respective cities on how to improve the situation for contemporary dance. Possibilities included new educational models for dance, training, and choreography; projects to support dance in public schools; construction of production centres; as well as initiation of an exchange/tour programme. The Tanzplan board consisting of respected dance experts such as Nele Hertling, Reinhild Hoffmann, Dr. Johannes Odenthal and Prof. Dr. Gerald Siegmund evaluated the suitability of the artistic concept, quality of previous work, local partners and essentially the projects’ potential effect on Germany and abroad. Out of the 15 candidates, 9 cities were selected.

According to Ritter, “In the process, certain themes appeared: 1) spaces; 2) link to other art forms; 3) cultural education (from the politicians: for young people and professional education); 4) what to do with young dancers after their professional education? Which in turn resulted to the establishment of residencies and mentoring programmes; and 5) dance archives, which came in later.”

All projects are uniquely designed for each city. Nonetheless, the following are common points that characterise the independently run Tanzplan Deutschland projects: existing active dance scene; forging alliances with regional and community cultural administrators and local partners; obtaining 50% co-funding from their city or state authority, or from foundations or sponsors; providing points of contact between classical and modern dance, theory and practice, the public and professionals; opening dance to a new audience whilst actively communicating its activities; and capacity for sustainable function after the end of the project or project funding.

Germany’s 5-year dance plan encompass of layers upon layers of activities. Its three main channel of activities are as follows: Tanzplan Local, Educational Programme and Tanzplan Initiatives. Tanzplan Local, which is managed in collaboration with several partners, received a maximum of 1.2 million Euros from the German Federal Cultural Foundation with the specific aim of improving public and political acceptance of contemporary dance in Germany. In a short time, all the nine cities manning the dance projects in the country have achieved set goals and even exceeding the expected outcome. Altogether, the various partners have raised 8,392,194 Million Euros.  In full confidence, Ritter utters, “All the people who participated in Tanzplan Deutschland are good networkers. They are good workers. The continuation of the initiatives will have to be done from the grassroots. It will be up to each individual to use it for him or herself. Tanzplan Deutschland went further than we perceived.”

Tanzlocal’s Achievement Highlights:[ix]


Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz Berlin: Choreography Kat Papageorgiu. Photo: Thomas Aurin

Hochschulueber-greifendes Zentrum Tanz- Pilotprojekt Tanzplan Berlin (Berlin’s Cooperative Dance Education Centre – Pilot Project) is a training centre for dance and choreography especially designed to enable research, concept development and experimentation.  This four-year pilot project, which offers a Bachelor programme in `Contemporary dance, context and choreography” and Master in Solo/Dance/Authorship, is going to be continuous programme in Berlin. Under the auspices of Berlin’s Senate, Universitaet der Kuenste and Tanz Raum Berlin, it has had 275 candidates from 14 countries, and 84 teaching personnel.


Norddeustsches Tanztreffen-Tanzplan Bremen offers a comprehensive exchange and touring programme between dance companies in Northern German cities involving both state-run theatre and independent companies from the region.  It incorporates a broad programme on dance communication: discussions, digital production handbooks, dance magazine and advance training courses. It has by far staged 103 performances in the past five years involving 9 states, 15- state-run companies, 32 independent companies, 25 schools, 114 choreographers/artists, 300 dancers and 600 students.


Tanzplan Dresden is developing new structures for the promotion of young dancers and choreographers that provide experimental, interdisciplinary approach, theoretical as well as advanced training.  To note some of its achievements in the past years, it has managed to set-up 9 productions; 6 Winter and Summer course programmes; 8 residency programmes and 5 co-productions involving 197 dancers/choreographers and artists; 476 workshop participants; and 103 participants from the residencies.


A production of take-off: Junger Tanz. Tanzplan Düsseldorf, Die Farben des Feuers. Photo: Sebastian Hoppe

Take-off: Junger Tanz. Tanzplan Duesseldorf in cooperation with 27 of the city’s cultural, education and scientific institutions are working towards introducing children and teenagers aged 3 to 18 to the aesthetics and techniques of contemporary dance through development of dance productions and integration of dance education in Duesseldorf schools.  Through its efforts of combined organisation of productions for children and teenagers, festival, integration of dance education in schools, it has reached an impressive number of 4,536 children participants, 5,998 young students and 50,135 audiences.


Tanzplan Essen 2010 established a skills centre for learning and teaching dance.  Its three main activities are: EXPLORATIONEN, an annual symposium on artistic context learning that brings together international experts and experienced participants from various disciplines; Wekwochen (work weeks), a cooperative projects amongst different cultural organisations in the city of Essen and the state of North-Rhine Westphalia; and AGORA, a Europe-wide unique, trans–disciplinary exchange of graduating students from international art colleges and academies. In this short period, they have hosted 3 EXPLORATIONEN, 1 Agora 7 Werkwochen covering 32 fields of knowledge that has attracted 480 participants.


TANZLABOR_21 / A Tanzplan Deutschland Project in Frankfurt: Advanced Tarining with Iris Tenge. Photo: Jörg Baumann

TANZLABOR_21 – A Tanzplan Deutschland Project – is dedicated to professional training and networking in order to provide contemporary dance in the Rhine-Main region with a solid basis. Following their vision, it has founded two new Masteral programmes in Dance Pedagogy and Choreography and Performance.   Further projects include Biennial Summer Lab, Artist-in-Residence, Dance in Schools and establishment of a dance archive. Frankurt has organised 34 talkARTS TANZLABOR_21, 492 professional training, 34 masterclasses, 12 dance school projects, 4 project ensembles, and 6 artists in residencies, which has reached reached 8,952 participants.


K3 Zentrum fuer Choreographie – Tanzplan Hamburg –has created a new location for contemporary dance at Kampnagel.  The city of Hamburg financed the reconstruction of Halle K3 at Kampnagel info a centre for dance.  It offers a residency programme, regular training for dancers and practical courses on production, and has set-up a youth ensemble.  Through this initiative, Hamburg has doubled its funding for independent productions to a total of 200,000 Euro annually. From the 35 residencies, it has hosted 254 participants from 33 countries. Hamburg has hosted 320 professional dance trainings; 50 courses and workshops; 60 performances; 25 exchange programmes and 40 lectures-discussions, benefiting at least 9,000 participants.

K3 Zentrum für Choreographie / Tanzplan Hamburg: K3 Jugendproduktion. Photo: Thies Rätzke


Access to Dance – Tanzplan Muenchen focuses on pupils from all types of schools and Theatre Studies studnets at the Ludwig-Maximilian Universitaet (LMU) in Munich.  The project aims to enable pupils to enable pupils to experience dance in class and offer it as a subject in the long-term, selecting, coaching and placing artists and qualified teachers for this purpose. Workshops and productions involving young people in Bavarian schools are also being implemented.  Among its notable achievements are as follows: organisation of 163 dance school projects, 15 professional seminars, hosting of 9 lecture series benefiting 500 students and 5,000 pupils in 46 schools and participation of 250 dancers and pedagogues.


Tanzplan Potsdam: Artists in Residence Lehr – und – Forschungs- programme der fabrik Potsdam is a new residency programme that offers both short and long-term residencies in Brandenburg.  It is aimed at artists in the fields of dance, choreography and performance, and open for practitioners and theoreticians of all genres.  It has since organised 68 courses and long-term residencies, 30 open studios and 27 performances.  It has set-up 46 productions from 22 countries; and hosted 399 participants and 278 residencies that account for some of its achievements.

What’s Next? What More?

The experienced curator, Ritter, who has worked on setting up her independent platform in Cologne 20 years ago, affirms, “The projects will have to continue and go on by themselves. In the political field, dance became a model.  First time that it was discussed.” The moment we need someone to fund it – then it becomes an issue.”

Apart from the above-noted activities of Tanzplan local, Tanzplan Deutschland has likewise established a web of activities such as Tanzplan Initiatives and Tanzplan Education Programme.  Tanzplan Initiative alone covers large-scale projects such as Nationales Performance Netz (co-production funding), online resources/internet portals such as, and; and the Dance Congress.  The education programme on the other hand manages and implements the Dance Education Biennale, Dance in Schools programmes which covers advanced training workshops for teachers and professors alike; and modern educational tools with dance studies E-learning programme.  Tanzplan Deutschland is also producing dance publications and engaged in setting-up of the Association of German Dance Archives.  Ritter explains that the idea on dance archive came in later particularly with the given situation in Germany that there is much focus accorded to heritage.  From the 1.4 Billion Euro budget of the Ministry of Culture, “the biggest budget of which goes to heritage.  We discovered that there is an existing artefact on culture but not on dance.   After this enquiry on archives, we thought of setting up programme concerning dance archives.”

So far Tanzplan Deutschland has a lot to show for the investment from the German Federal Cultural Foundation. However, as its project director puts it into perspective, “It’s not enough to change people’s thinking.  It also matters how much political pressure the project can bring. The sad news is that Tanzplan Deutschland is also caught in the midst of the world economic crisis.  Tanzplan Hamburg, for instance, is faced with the issue that the city government is cutting on 10 Million Euro from the cultural budget. As for private funding, this exists in the field of cultural education and projects of certain social interest but the crisis has a resonating effect on this as well,” continues Ritter.

Between 2005-2010, Ritter looks at the achievements of Tanzplan Deutschland into two levels based on its aim of improving a) Public and b) Political acceptance of contemporary dance.  “Dance has become visible on a political level. For instance, Dance Biennale will continue to be supported by the Ministry of Education whilst the dance courses offered in some of the university as well as dance classes in school will have the possibility to sustain itself.  On a public level, if I order a taxi and say go to Tanzplan Deutschland – I’d have to explain in detail to the taxi driver what’s it about.   The understanding of dance is still a small section in society.” Reaffirming the strengths of the 5-year programme, Ritter says “Die Weg ist das zeel,” a German saying that pertains to the essence of undertaking as the equivalent of realising one’s goal.    The road appears while you are stepping on it.”

Notes and References:

[i] Cultural and Media Policy of the German Federal Government<

[ii] Refer to the links provided below on the various partners of Tanzplan Deutschland.

[iii] Interview with Madeline Ritter, Project Director, Tanzplan Deutschland, Paul Linke Ufer 42/43, B Berlin, Germany,19 March 2010

[iv] The Dance Plan 2012, a four-year action plan for the Australian dance sector,has been produced by the Australia Council for the Arts and Ausdance National. For more information, visit<

[v]Association of Dance Professionals in Catalonia <

[vi] Dance UK’s Manifesto<

[vii] Hortensia Voelkers

[viii] German Federal Cultural Foundation<

[ix] Tanzplan Local’s Achievement Highlights information were extracted from the Tanzplatform webiste, Tanzplan vor Ort Zahlen und Fakten, 2005-2009 (Publication) and Tanzplan Deutschland A Short Description, February 2008. For further details and statistical data, please contact the organisers of Tanzplatform Deutschland <


Tanzplan Berlin Collaborators:

Hochschule für Schauspielkunst “Ernst Busch” <


Universitaet der Kuenste Berlin <

Land Berlin / Senatskanzlei – Kulturelle Angelegenheiten<

[xi] Tanzplan Bremen Collaborators:

Tanzplan Bremen<

Ballett des Staatstheaters Braunschweig<

Tanzstadt Bremen<

Ballett der Staatsoper Hannover c/o Bremen Theatre <

Ballet der Buehnen der Landeshauptstadt Kiel<

Tanzcompagnie des Oldenburgischen Staatstheaters<

Tanztheater des Osnabrueck<

Senator fuer Kultur der Freiern Hanestadt Bremen<

[xii] Tanzplan Dresden Collaborators:

Tanzplan Dresden<

HELLERAU – Europäisches Zentrum der Künste Dresden

Palucca Schule Dresden – Hochschule für Tanz

Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden / Dresden SemperOper Ballett

Förderverein Hellerau e.V.

Amt für Kultur und Denkmalschutz der Landeshauptstadt Dresden

Kulturstiftung Dresden der Dresdner Bank

Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen

[xiii] Tanzplan Duesseldorf Collaborators:

Tanzplan Dusseldorf<

Akademie Remscheid <

Deutsches Institut für Tanzpädagogik <

Düsseldorfer Symphoniker <

Filmwerkstatt Düsseldorf <

Forum Freies Theater (FFT) <

Junges Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf <


tanzhaus nrw <

Tonhalle Düsseldorf <

Universität Düsseldorf <  .

Kulturamt der Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf <

Kunststiftung NRW <

Ministerpräsident des Landes NRW <

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf AG<

[xiv] Tanzplan Essen Collaborators:

Tanzplan Essen<

Aalto Ballett Theater <

Deutscher Berufsverband für Tanzpädagogik <

Folkwang Universität für Musik, Theater, Tanz, Gestaltung, Wissenschaft

Folkwang Musikschule <

Folkwang Tanzstudio <

Gymnasium Essen Werden <

PACT Zollverein.<

Stadt Essen <

Kulturbüro der Stadt Essen<

Kulturhauptstadt 2010<

[xv] Tanzplan Frankfurt Collaborators:

Tanzplan Frankfurt<

Hessische Theaterakademie <

Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main <

Institut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft der Universität Giessen

Künstlerhaus Mousonturm<

Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst <

Dezernat Kultur und Wissenschaft der Stadt Frankfurt <

Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main<

[xvi] Tanzplan Hamburg Collaborators:

Tanzplan Hamburg<

Kampnagel Internationale Kulturfabrik GmbH <

Universität Hamburg / MA-Studiengang “Performances Studies”<

[xvii] Tanzplan Munich Collaborators:

Tanzplan Muenchen<

Bayerisches Staatsballett <

twm, Theaterwissenschaft, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Joint Adventures <

Kulturbüro Simone Schulte & Andrea Marton <

Muffatwerk <

K. Kieser Verlag<<

Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst <

Kulturreferat der Landeshauptstadt München<

[xviii] Tanzplan Potsdam Collaborators:

fabrik Potsdam<

Landeshauptstadt Potsdam<

Brandenburgishes Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kultur<

Further links:

Tanzplan Deustchland <

Dance Germany <

Project Funding for Dance in Germany<

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