International exchange and encounters
International exchange and encounters between artists and their art and cultural projects around the world are important for strengthening cultural diversity.
Villa Aurora, located in the hills of the Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles, awards fellowships to artists, and is part of German-Jewish exile heritage in the United States. For many years, German-Jewish writer Lion Feuchtwanger and his wife Martha opened their home as a meeting place for German artists and intellectuals forced to flee Nazi persecution. The Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, also with Federal Government funding, implements joint programmes with concerts, readings, exhibitions, symposia, etc. Since its founding in 1989 it has established itself as a high-profile centre for contemporary non-European arts and as a site of intercultural dialogue. A further example is Tahrir Lounge in Egypt launched in 2011 by the Goethe-Institut Cairo, the German Embassy and the GIZ.
Deutsche Welle’s (DW) remit is to promote exchange and understanding among cultures and peoples. It produces TV, radio and Internet programmes for people around the world in German and in 29 additional languages. Deutsche Welle is financed by the Federal Government. According to the 2005 “Deutsche Welle Law”, the media organisation is an independent broadcaster, bound to practice independent and free journalism. Over 240 million people access DW via satellite and the Internet with over 5,000 partners around the world transmitting Deutsche Welle programmes. Worthy of note is Quantara.de, since 2003 DW’s online dialogue platform with the Arab world, as well as its Farsi-language online forum launched in 2010. The international training institute DW-Akademie offers training and professional development for journalists and broadcasting professionals in and from developing countries.
Länder, local governments and municipalities
The Länder also support a multitude of initiatives, of which only a few examples can be mentioned here: In Bavaria, since 1997, 12 artists from Germany and from another country are invited yearly to the International Artist House Villa Concordia in Bamberg. The fellows enjoy ideal working conditions, receive financial support to develop their artistic projects, and have the opportunity to organise exhibitions, readings or concerts. Some 20 visual artists, authors, composers and filmmakers are annually invited to Berlin through one of the most renowned international fellowship programmes, the Artists-in-Berlin Programme of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
Through the initiative of the Hamburg Cultural Office, and as part of the “Yamuna-Elbe Public Art Project” and the Year of Germany in India, Indian, German and international artists, environmental activists and NGOs explored the economic, ecological and cultural significance of the Yamuna and Elbe rivers in Hamburg and New Delhi in 2011 (www.yamuna-elbe.de). Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania maintains close contact with thethree Baltic Sea Region countries – Finland, Russia and Poland – as well as with France and the USA. Its contact and cooperation is demonstrated through regular exchanges, particularly in the cultural sector. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and its eastern neighbour, West Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland, have held joint annual presentations in the fields of culture, economy, security and youth since 1998. The German European Capital for Culture “Essen for the Ruhr (Ruhr.2010)” focused on the metamorphosis of an industrial region to a site for cultural and creative industries. The project received over EUR 19 million (USD 25.3 million) from the Federal Government. Around 100 cultural cooperation projects with over 200 twin cities throughout Europe attracted over 10 million visitors – many from abroad. By invitation of North Rhine Westphalia in the context of the European Capital for Culture, around 150 participants, mostly from Europe, discussed the “Future of international cultural work” in Essen. North Rhine-Westphalia has a three-pronged approach to promoting international cultural exchange. The first includes fellowships for foreign exchanges, a visitor programme that supports the exchange of diverse cultural actors, and the exhibition of individual arts and cultural projects from North Rhine-Westphalia and abroad. The second includes a multi-annual programme to build sustainable relationships between cultural institutions, which should be developed as stronger focal points of cultural exchange. The third area deals with the identification of country-specific focus areas, for example in France (2009/2010) with the “Artention” programme or Poland with “Tam’Tam” (2011) and “Klopsztanga” (2012), in order to build awareness about cultural exchanges among culture professionals as well as the public. Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saarland along with Lorraine, Luxembourg and Wallonia, participated in the founding of the regional association Kulturraum Großregion in 2007. It coordinates joint cross-border projects and contributes to the creation of discipline specific networks. The entire spectrum of cultural diversity can be viewed on the Internet platform “plurio.net”, which was financed with European funds. Another successful example of cross-border cooperation is the “Forum Kultur” initiative from the Upper Rhine region of Germany, France and Switzerland. “Forum Kultur” promotes cultural exchange among the four regions of the Upper Rhine (Baden, Alsace, South and West Palatinate and North-West Switzerland) by providing information, coordinating and consulting on cross-border cultural projects. One example from the Upper Rhine is the first Festival der freien Theater (adult, children and adolescent theatre), organised within the scope of the Rhineland-Palatinate Cultural Summer 2010 “Across Borders”. For over 10 years, the “Upper Rhine Museum Pass” offers its holders free admission to permanent and temporary exhibitions at more than 170 museums throughout the Upper Rhine region. As another exceptional example of cultural collaboration between neighbouring countries, the Council of the Baltic Sea States (Stockholm) has equipped the Ars Baltica (www.arsbaltica. net) to operate in the field of cultural cooperation. The Ars Baltica secretariat serving the nine countries bordering the Baltic Sea is located in Schleswig-Holstein.
One example at municipal level is the 2009 decision by the city of Cologne to establish an Akademie der Künste der Welt (Academy of the Arts of the World), in keeping with the objectives of the UNESCO Convention. The Academy is to begin its work in 2012.
Project work from some 180 German cultural societies abroad is supported by the Federal Government. Finally, the numerous international school partnerships with German schools, non-school youth exchange programmes and international voluntary services (e.g. kulturweit and weltwärts), which serve intercultural understanding and the exchange of cultural expressions, should be mentioned. Universities also contribute to awareness-raising through research, international teaching curricula and through active international exchanges.