International solidarity for culture – Foreign Minister Maas “visits” projects in Brazil, Georgia, Lebanon and Bosnia and Herzegovina

New formats - Theater in Tiflis

New formats - Theater in Tiflis, © Royal District Theatre

15.03.2021 - Article

From Georgia to Brazil, German assistance for cultural institutions abroad is making a difference.

The Federal Foreign Office provided partner organisations in the fields of culture and education with three million euro of emergency aid in June 2020. Today, Foreign Minister Maas took part in a virtual visit to four Projects.

International Aid Fund for culture and education

The culture and education sectors have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic both in Germany and abroad. In June 2020, together with the Goethe-Institut and other civil society partners, the Federal Foreign Office created an aid fund to support cultural and educational institutions abroad. Culture and education connect people across borders, create mutual understanding and lay the foundation for strong international relations. The pandemic is a particular threat to this foundation.

Aid that makes a difference: a virtual visit to four projects

German aid is making a difference – Heiko Maas saw this for himself today during his virtual visit to four cultural projects which are benefitting from the fund. His journey via the computer screen took him to Georgia, Lebanon, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Brazil. Each stop along the way revolved around discussions with culture professionals who have been able to carry out cultural projects despite the pandemic thanks to support from the aid fund:

  • Beirut is now home to a cinema on wheels. The Metropolis Association in the Lebanese capital has spent twelve years running the Metropolis Art Cinema together with a commercial partner. The cinema lost its fixed premises during the protests in October 2019 and alternatives have been limited due to the pandemic. Together with the Lebanon Solidarity Fund, the International Aid Fund has allowed the cinema to survive in mobile form – it has taken to wheels to show films in the open air in different areas of the city, with a focus on Lebanese titles.
  • The Royal District Theatre in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi would have had to close its doors without the support of the aid fund. It has now been able to develop six new pieces in pandemic-appropriate formats, from audio dramas to sound installations to performances using the cityscape of Tbilisi as their stage. The theatre hopes that these new formats will also allow it to expand its audience and fuel public debate on social issues.
  • The Women’s Reading Room in Bosnia and Herzegovina aims to boost the visibility and presence of women authors on the Bosnian literary scene – where women are still heavily underrepresented both as writers and as literary critics.
  • The Escola Olodum in Salvador, Brazil, works to train women in digital skills. It offers courses from social media marketing to mobile photography with the aim of helping participants to adapt their careers to online platforms during the pandemic, as well as opening up new prospects for them in the longer term.

Funding 141 projects in 75 countries

In the first round of funding in 2020, a total of 141 projects in 75 countries from Brazil to Burkina Faso to Uzbekistan received up to 25,000 euro each. Other projects also received funding via partners under the umbrella of the aid fund. The 2020 International Aid Fund for Cultural and Educational Organisations was launched by the Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut working with a number of partners. The Federal Foreign Office provided the core funding of three million euro, while the Goethe-Institut is overseeing implementation and coordinating the entire fund with a team of several employees. Various German cultural organisations and private foundations have also contributed funding or are involved with projects of their own, including the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with its Artists‑in‑Berlin Programme, the German Commission for UNESCO, the S. Fischer Foundation, Stiftung Mercator, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and Siemens Stiftung.

During his visits to individual projects, Foreign Minister Maas also met with Carola Lentz, the President of the Goethe-Institut, Silvia Fehrmann, the head of the DAAD’s Artists‑in‑Berlin Programme, and Antje Contius, Director of the S. Fischer Foundation.

Aid funds to be doubled in 2021

International solidarity in culture and education remains urgently needed in 2021. The Federal Foreign Office has agreed with its partner organisations that the fund will be maintained and has doubled the sum available.


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