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European Social Fund+

European Social Fund+

The European Social Fund+ (ESF+) is devoted to social questions and challenges inside the EU, with special focus on the topics labour, education and inclusion. The purpose of the ESF+ is to create and guarantee fair and equal work and living conditions as well as social protection and inclusion of all citizens. For this reason, the ESF+ in particular provides funding for projects where the public and private sector work in cooperation with the civil society.

As the social problems vary from region to region and therefore require diverse approaches, the ESF+ adjusts its objectives to local conditions. Besides the varying priorities, it also implies that a major part of the support is administrated at national level and no European partner is needed for such support.

Both in Germany and Austria ESF+ programmes are in place at the national and the federal level which results in individual programme priorities in each federal state (Bundesländer). The federal programmes are usually more attractive for the cultural sector as they provide different funding opportunities for cultural projects. In general, cultural projects with a strong social orientation or a focus on cultural education could benefit from ESF+.


Here you can find the contact points for the ESC+ in Germany and Austria. Use the filter to find your local contact!


Cultural projects and creative initiatives could be a possible way to further strengthen the idea of a social Europe and provide European citizens with better access to their social rights. In this manner, the ESF+ essentially supports measures aimed at marginalised groups and disadvantaged people, for example women, queer people, people with a refugee background, those who have been unemployed in the long term or persons without school-leaving qualifications or with low vocational qualifications. In general, projects that receive funding from the European Social Fund+ should be mainly concerned with the following:

  • ‚Beschäftigung‘: Zugang zum Arbeitsmarkt für alle Arbeitssuchenden verbessern, Erwerbstätigkeit von Frauen und Vereinbarkeit von Beruf und Privatem fördern
  • 'Education': Enabling equal access to general professional education and lifelong learning, increasing quality and labour market relevance of the various courses of education.
  • 'Inclusion': Improving social and social economic integration of disadvantaged and marginalised persons, combatting unemployment and establishing active inclusion and equal access to social protection systems.

In this context, social projects in cooperation with the cultural and creative sector can develop new ways and strategies, for example, facilitating the inclusion of older people or employment seekers or raising awareness regarding gender equality. Moreover, cultural projects can contribute to the establishment or improvement of policies in respect of further education and qualification and to the expansion or acquisition of skills that are relevant for the labour market.

In the context of the regional implementation of the ESF+, the funding policies are adjusted to the respective regional challenges. Thereby, different points of contact can be established for the cultural and creativity sector. Although cultural projects are covered less by the ESF+ in some federal states, culture projects in other regions can in general receive more focus. Therefore, it makes sense that you concentrate on those federal state programmes that are relevant to your project. You will find the responsible contact person under Contacts.

Social projects with strong cultural elements were already funded by previous programmes, and the following activities were implemented, among others:

  • Refugees received music education in cooperation with a childcare centre and a tertiary institution to obtain better chances of access opportunities to the labour market
  • Development of a UV light exhibition to enable unemployed people to participate socially and to further their education
  • Establishment of a dance ensemble with professional dancers from Syria as a means to process and present their experiences from the war and their flight
  • Creation of low-threshold counselling and support services for young people at risk of exclusion by providing them with work experience in creative and media studios

In view of its socio-political orientation, the ESF+ is particularly focused on:

  • Public institutions
  • Educational institutions
  • Welfare organisations, associations and other civil societies
  • Companies

Für die Antragstellung in diesem Programm sind keine europäischen Partnerorganisationen notwendig, aber möglich. Aufgrund der unterschiedlichen Operationellen Programme des ESF+ variieren die Förderkriterien in jedem Bundesland. Dies kann unter Umständen auch Auswirkungen auf die antragsberechtigten Organisationen haben. Deswegen solltest du die für dein Projekt relevanten regionalen Förderbedingungen überprüfen.

Funded projects


Here you can find more information on the project "International Music Education" which was funded by the ESF+.

Further projects

Here you can find more cultural projects funded by different EU programmes.

Open calls

Currently there are no open calls for proposal.

As soon as there will be new calls relevant for culture you will find them here.

Further information