TikTok is offering 50 German cultural institutions a total of €5 million ($6 million)—or €10,000 ($12,000) each—to ramp up engagement on the social-media app and promote diversity-focused content.
Museums, theaters, publishing houses, and art galleries—all of which have been closed since November—are among those invited to apply (by April 11) for the new grant. Institutions do not currently need to use TikTok to be eligible, but they must propose plans to create eight videos per month for a period of six months, all with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
“It is important to us to offer cultural creators new ways of exchanging with their audience. With #CreatorsForDiversity, new formats are created that inspire and encourage TikTok users to dive into the topics of art, culture and diversity,” says Tobias Henning, general manager of TikTok Germany. “In this way, we want to support the cultural sector, which suffers greatly from the current situation because special regulations make personal encounters impossible.”
The move signals a serious bid from TikTok to make headway in the creative industry, which, up until now, has been dominated by Instagram and its owner, Facebook. A year ago, TikTok told the that only 11 museums had accounts on the app. And while it wouldn’t offer an updated figure, currently the Tate Modern, Louvre, the Met, and the Rijksmuseum all have active accounts. The Uffizi, an early TikTok adopter, frequently shares treasures from the museum in a variety of zany videos.
At the same time, the company is has faced numerous complaints from users that the app is not inclusive enough. In 2019, the company admitted it had suppressed content from queer and disabled users when trying to screen those “vulnerable” to cyberbullying. Last June, it issued a public apology after users across the platform replaced their profile pictures with the Black power symbol to protest what they saw as the censorship of Black creators on the platform.
A spokesperson from TikTok Germany said the new initiative was not directly related to the issue from last year, adding that “the work is never done.”
The funding for the diversity project is under the sole purview of TikTok Germany, though there are similar initiatives in France and the UK that are targeted toward the film industry, a TikTok spokesperson says. The platform has more than 100 million users in Europe.
A jury, known as the Diversity Board, will award the grants and is comprised of Raul Krauthausen, from Sozialhelden, Kemi Fatoba from Daddy Magazine, and Younes Al-Amayra from Datteltäter, as well as other German cultural organizations with a diversity focus, will be jurors.