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Internationaler Hilfsfonds, Grafik: ©Katja Römer Internationaler Hilfsfonds, Grafik: ©Katja Römer

for Organisations in Culture and Education
International Relief Fund

Foreign policy is a living partnership, especially in difficult times.

Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas

International Relief Fund 2021

Maintaining and strengthening partnership structures


In 2020, the Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut initiated an International Relief Fund in response to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on cultural organisations abroad. With the support of other intermediary organisations, the relief fund was able to contribute to maintaining cultural partner’s structures abroad and at the same time to strengthen social diversity and local cultural life. The consortium partners of the International Relief Fund have agreed to continue the funding in 2021. The Federal Foreign Office has doubled the funds to around 6 million euros. This allowed the maximum individual funding to be increased to 30,000 euros and the funding period to be extended to 6 months. The Goethe-Institut is again in charge of the entire coordination of the fund. Other members of the consortium in 2021 are the S. Fischer Foundation and the Robert Bosch Foundation, which have doubled their funding to 100,000 euros. The German Commission for UNESCO, the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program and the Siemens Foundation are participating with their own projects.


Application Procedure 2021

Applications are only possible from abroad and via the Goethe-Instituts abroad, the German embassies or the consortium partners Robert Bosch Foundation or S. Fischer Foundation. Organisations in EU countries, the USA or Canada are excluded from the application. Several juries, made up of representatives of the consortium of the International Relief Fund 2021 and external jurors with regional expertise, decide on funding.
Applications will be accepted starting 8 April 2021 and until 7 May 2021.
Fundable organisations must meet the following criteria:
  • They contribute to safeguarding artistic freedom and a pluralistic society.
  • They have been working successfully as an organisation for at least three years (this activity must be validated with two civil society reference letters, “Civil Society Statements”).
  • They are already known to the Goethe-Institut, the German Embassy/Consulate General, the S. Fischer Foundation or the Robert Bosch Foundation through previous collaboration (this knowledge must be provided in the “Institutional Statement” of the respective application for funding through the partner institution supporting the International Relief Fund).
  • Their work is restricted due to the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and no other sources of funding are available to develop their prospects.
  • They are able to accept international funding and to guarantee its use in compliance with (German) public procurement law and in compliance with anti-corruption standards, as well as to continuously verify this.
  • They have no bankruptcy proceedings pending.
  • They are based outside of the EU, the US and Canada.

International Relief Fund 2020

“Foreign policy is a living partnership, especially in difficult times. It is also a cultural policy mandate. Because in a time of physical distancing, cultural proximity is more important than ever.” 
(Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas)

The International Relief Fund 2020 was set up in summer 2020 on the initiative of the Goethe-Institut and the Federal Foreign Office in order to quickly support organisations from culture and education abroad in dealing with the anticipated effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The Federal Foreign Office provided around 3 million euros in emergency aid, the S. Fischer Foundation and the Robert Bosch Foundation added further funds, as did the Goethe Institute, which also coordinated the selection process and the allocation of funds. The DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program, the German UNESCO Commission, the Mercator Foundation and the Siemens Foundation were involved with their own projects. A jury selected 141 projects for funding from more than 440 applications from 75 countries. Projects from the African continent, the Near and Middle East, Central and Southeast Asia as well as Eastern and South-eastern Europe and South America were supported with up to 25,000 euros each. 

Projects 2020

Three funded projects – three different ways to stay relevant for culture and society in spite of restrictions.

Test-shooting for outdoor performance at Royal District Theatre Photo (detail): © Gika Mikabadze

Royal District Theatre, Tbilisi, Georgia
Theatre without a theatre

When Georgia entered its first lockdown in spring 2020, the Royal District Theatre was forced to close and has not been able to reopen to this day. With the aid of the 2020 Relief Fund, the ensemble developed new ways to re-establish contact with its audience in public and digital space.

A community assistant accompanies children back home after school, Dušan Radović Primary School, Novi Sad Photo (video excerpt): © Andrija Kovač

Forum Roma, Belgrade, Serbia
Education for all

The Forum Roma Serbia has been working against the precarious living situation of the Roma in Serbia for years and primarily aims at expanding access to education. With the help of the Relief Fund 2020, analogue classes for Roma settlements in Bor, Novi Sad and Požarevac could be continued.

Let the spark fly and hold on to it. Outreach Foundation Johannesburg Photo (detail): © Earl Abrahams

Outreach Foundation, Johannesburg, South Africa
Setting off sparks of inspiration

The Outreach Foundation in Johannesburg does neighbourhood work in the city centre. With the help of the International Relief Fund 2020, it was able to keep its doors open as an important contact point for children and young people and continue a multi-generational theatre project.



Auswärtiges Amt Goethe-Institut

Consortium partners 2021:
Robert Bosch Stiftung S. Fischer Stiftung

Participating with their own projects:
Dt. UNESCO-Kommission  Berliner Künstlerprogramm DAAD Siemens Stiftung


Applications are only possible via the Goethe-Instituts abroad, the German embassies or the consortium partners Robert Bosch Foundation and S. Fischer Foundation 

For general questions about the International Relief Fund 2021, please contact: