- Cultural Bridge celebrates social arts practice by supporting the development of new and existing partnerships between Germany and the UK

- The fund was established in 2021 as a unique investment partnership between all UK arts councils and leading German cultural institutions

- So far Cultural Bridge has supported 35 partnerships and over 70 organisations committed to exchanging and collaborating on artistic practices that explore themes faced by communities in both countries

Today, the Cultural Bridge programme and its co-investors: Arts Council England, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, British Council, the National Lottery through Creative Scotland, Fonds Soziokultur, Goethe-Institut London and Wales Arts International / Arts Council of Wales, have announced continued funding for the development of partnerships between Germany and the UK, until 2027.

The programme launched in 2021 and has supported 35 new and existing partnerships through 42 awards, benefitting 73 organisations and providing opportunities to 591 artists and cultural practitioners across the UK and Germany.

To date, Cultural Bridge has awarded £662,000 in grants and has today confirmed a commitment to two further funding rounds totalling £730,000.

By enabling new and existing connections, Cultural Bridge supports a growing network of organisations committed to sharing expertise and skills, exchanging ideas and collaborating on artistic practices and projects that explore themes and issues faced by communities across both countries.

Based on evidence gathered by the programme’s evaluation team TIALT, funding allows organisations to develop practical, technical and creative skills and has broadened cultural perspectives and the understanding of sameness and difference amongst communities.

The fund supports organisations working across various themes and artforms including youth work, inclusion, health and wellbeing, socio-political, rural and environment-based arts. Examples of previous and current partnerships include:

Feminism and Migrant Activism which explores socially engaged and co-created work with young women from Berlin and Fife; ENTER: Robots exchange which brings together learning disabled and neurodivergent dance artists from Cardiff and Bremen to develop a large-scale street theatre performance; Ode to Earth, that enabled young people from Belfast and Leipzig to explore climate change through collaborative artistic practice; Uncomfortable Dialogues, which aims to unveil marginalised Black experiences through dance, film and storytelling in London and Berlin.

“As a feminist theatre company this award provides a rare and important opportunity for us to collaborate with and learn from another organisation using co-creation with young women to make change.” Stellar Quines on Feminism and Migrant Activism

“For some of the learning disabled and neurodivergent artists involved, this will be their first time travelling internationally, a vital opportunity for progression in both their professional aspirations and towards more independent lives.” Hijinx Theatre and tanzbar-bremen on ENTER: Robots exchange

“Cultural Bridge has demonstrated the importance of international connections such as these to reinforce best practices and challenge us to move outside of our comfort zone as well as ensuring young people from Belfast feel connected to the wider European community.” DU Dance Northern Ireland

“The Mince e.V and Miss Lulu creates partnership is a collaboration that celebrates and promotes inclusive and forward thinking of exploring and breaking the barriers around black dance and marginalised communities, using empowerment strategies, outreach, discussion, research and development whilst exploring artistic ways to celebrate unity and the diversity and richness that exists within our community.” Miss Lulu Creates on Uncomfortable Dialogues

Cultural Bridge co-investors on the news:

“At Arts Council England, we believe investing in international cultural exchange is critical to helping artists develop their skills, connect with their peers, and reach more people with their work. It also gives audiences in England the chance to enjoy the very best creative and cultural work from around the world.  We are delighted to announce this continued investment in Cultural Bridge and to be working with our partners to build on the programmes successes so far and to continue the development of exciting social arts practice that enrich the creative and cultural lives of communities in the UK and Germany.” Simon Mellor, Deputy Chief Executive at Arts Council England

“This purpose driven funding programme of seven most dedicated stakeholders is a role model for how funding can be delivered in a collaborative way both on the level of funding bodies and together with cultural practitioners. The enthusiasm and knowledge of everyone involved is outstanding. Fonds Soziokultur is very much looking forward to being a partner in this programme for the next few years. It is now on the next level of development thanks to every partner´s contribution, a growing network of smart practitioners and the new funding from the Arts Council England. More opportunities to learn, share and improve are ahead.”
Mechthild Eickhoff, Managing Director, Fonds Soziokultur

“The British Council welcomes today’s funding announcement and is delighted to be a partner in this key programme supporting bilateral cultural exchange in communities between the UK and Germany. Cultural Bridge is a model for the way we work alongside trusted stakeholders equally committed to investing in the arts for social impact. With this funding we as stakeholders will be able to develop our offer for exceptional practitioners working in the sector, supporting them to build their international network and broaden their perspectives on socially engaged cultural practice.”
Helga Stellmacher, Country Director, British Council Germany

“Today’s funding announcement is welcome news and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to continue our partnership with Fonds Soziokultur, Goethe-Institut London and our arts funding colleagues across these islands in the Cultural Bridge programme.  This important initiative offers a valuable opportunity for our artists to engage with their counterparts in the UK and Germany with the aim of using the arts to connect communities, develop shared understanding and facilitate social change through the creation of new and exciting artistic work.”
Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland

“We are pleased to see the Cultural Bridge programme continue to flourish. Alongside our partners, the Goethe-Institut London is delighted to continue supporting exchange and growth of organisations in the UK and Germany, built on the foundations of cultural reciprocity. Cultural Bridge is a wonderful reflection of the Goethe-Institut’s mission of connecting through culture, and it is encouraging to see funding secured for another two years, until 2027. This will undoubtedly provide even more opportunities for grassroots organisations from both countries, enabling them to learn and improve their practice alongside each other.”
Dr. Katharina von Ruckteschell-Katte, Goethe-Institut London

“Creative Scotland’s continued commitment to the Cultural Bridge programme is another example of our important work with the four UK nations’ arts councils to strengthen and deepen international links. T
he impactful partnership with Fonds Soziokultur, the British Council and the Goethe Institut in London supports exchange between socially engaged artists and creative practitioners across Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales, and our close neighbour Germany. This opens doors to nuanced and thought-provoking connections between the local communities with which they work.” Dana MacLeod, Executive Director of Arts, Communities and Inclusion of Creative Scotland 

“We are thrilled to be part of this announcement confirming two more years of funding for Cultural Bridge allowing more opportunities for artistic collaboration between Wales, the UK and Germany. This project facilitates exciting exchanges of knowledge and experience in socially engaged practices and community work, and it is so positive to see this programme go from strength to strength.”
Dafydd Rhys, CEO Arts Council of Wales

Applications for the 2025 – 2026 funding round will open in autumn where new partnerships can apply for up to £10,000 and established partnerships can apply for up to £30,000.

Organisations interested in applying are encouraged to read the full guidance available now
and register their interest in a matchmaking session if they are seeking a new partnership - find out more.

Image: Femxle Spaces A collaboration between vier.D (Germany) and ACCA/ Slung Low (England) Image: Lukas Staab