Kunststiftung NRW supports the arts and culture where unique programmes and inspiring ideas demonstrate close links to North Rhine-Westphalia. Nurturing young artists of exceptional talent and cultivating international cultural exchange are further key aims of the foundation.


The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is not only the most populous of Germany’s federal regions. It is also one of Europe’s richest and most diverse cultural landscapes. Alongside regular funding provided by the state itself, Kunststiftung NRW’s funding of both artists and projects has played a vital role in making this cultural wealth of the region possible. During its 25 year existence as an independent institution under civil law, it has facilitated over 6,000 projects. The focus of its funding activities lies on unique programmes and inspiring ideas in the fields of literature, dance, theatre, music and the visual arts as well as interdisciplinary projects of outstanding quality.  

Founded by the State Government under Minister President Johannes Rau in 1989 as the Foundation for the Arts and Culture of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Kunststiftung NRW supports artistic achievements and projects of outstanding quality. The foundation achieves its aims by funding exhibitions, concerts, dance projects, theatre productions, readings and commissioned works. In special cases the foundation has provided funds for the acquisition of art works of exceptional significance to the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Nurturing young artists of exceptional talent and cultivating international cultural exchange are further key aims of the foundation.  

Kunststiftung NRW funding secures North Rhine-Westphalia’s diversity. The foundation operates in close dialogue with artists and those engaged in the cultural sector to work towards the culture of the future. Through its extensive network across all artistic disciplines, the foundation possesses an unrivalled knowledge of artistic processes and the circumstances under which art is produced, which is readily available to the media, politicians and the public alike. It is a force driving cultural development, both nationally and internationally. This is manifest in its many projects collaborating with artists and institutions around the world, whose ideas enrich the cultural landscape of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The foundation’s funding policy is to stimulate both quality and daring in the arts and culture. Key selection criteria in the decision to make an award are the artistic quality and innovative concept of the project concerned. In these respects applications for funding to individuals and support for experimental concepts are treated equally alongside large scale artistic projects whose impact stretches beyond the region. Kunststiftung NRW funding is particularly aimed at establishing a legacy where art of outstanding aesthetic quality continues to be developed and to have an effect and at consolidating its national and international reputation. 

Putting writers in a stronger position to produce their work – this is the aim of Kunststiftung NRW’s literary funding. By awarding grants to writers, publishing single works and anthologies and funding specific literary events, series of readings and literary festivals, the foundation provides broad-based support for the literary landscape of North Rhine-Westphalia, raising awareness of the diversity of poetry both within the region and beyond its borders.  An additional focus of the foundation’s funding lies in the field of literary translation with the aim of promoting the international transfer of culture and spreading new ideas.

Kunststiftung NRW’s music funding supports contemporary composed and improvised music as well as historically informed performance practice and sonic art projects. Alongside the award of composing commissions, new developments in experimental music theatre lie at the heart of its funding programme. Its funding of dance places special emphasis on support for individual artistic projects, festivals and dance centres. In the field of theatre, funding focusses on support for production centres for independent theatre, extending theatre for children and young people and support for festivals.

Artists and the presentation of their work in ambitious exhibition projects are the principal focus of Kunststiftung NRW’s art funding. Here projects by small exhibition spaces and arts associations are considered alongside special exhibitions at large museums. The foundation is particularly concerned to fund young artists, supporting them in their own development with the production of art works, exhibitions or catalogues and by offering bursaries to help them build national and international networks.  

Within the spectrum of international arts awards, the prizes Kunststiftung NRW awards in the fields of visual arts, music and literature are very highly regarded. The Straelen Prize for Translation honours exceptional achievement in the field of literary translation and is one of the best-endowed literary prizes in German-speaking countries. With the Nam June Paik Award – International Media Art Award the Kunststiftung provides recognition for artworks realising experimental and media-based concepts.  The Mauricio Kagel Music Prize is awarded for interdisciplinary artistic experiments where music, image and performance meet.

By providing travel scholarships, fellowships and artists’ residencies in Istanbul and Tel Aviv, Kunststiftung NRW offers artists from North Rhine-Westphalia working in all disciplines the chance to familiarize themselves with other cultures, establish international contacts and exchange ideas within global networks. The aim of this intercultural initiative is to open up new sources of aesthetic and cultural inspiration for North Rhine-Westphalia’s arts scene. Research programmes tailored to specific disciplines create further scope for processes of artistic development which raise the profiles of young artists.

Kunststiftung NRW regards funding as a process aimed to create development in which direct contacts between artists, representatives of cultural bodies and cultural policymakers play a vital role. By organizing information sessions and forums for discussion it offers a location where meetings and exchanges of views can take place. In this way it raises awareness of the creative power of art, supports the courage which drives change and provokes reflection on what is new and different. Making the impossible possible means strengthening and securing the importance of art in the future development of society.

The funds Kunststiftung NRW provides are generated by lottery income from the state provider WestLotto.

„Münsteraner Erklärung“ vom 25. November 2015