Cultural programme work – promoting art and exhibitions, music, theatre, dance, literature and film – has traditionally been a key feature of foreign cultural and education policy. It gives the rest of the world an idea of the high quality and great diversity of artistic activity in Germany and projects an image of this country as a highly innovative and creative civilized nation. Such work is an ideal way of encouraging intercultural exchanges and encounters beyond the realm of political discourse, thus facilitating and strengthening mutual understanding and communication.
The major part of the funds made available by the Federal Foreign Office for this purpose go to the mediators of cultural relations policy, in particular to the Goethe Institut in Munich with its dense network of cultural institutes and to the Institute for Foreign Relations in Stuttgart, as well as to the German Publishers and Booksellers Association in Frankfurt to enable them to implement their own programmes in this area. In addition, the Federal Foreign Office supports the Artists in Berlin Programme of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which awards grants to foreign artists (visual arts, literature, music and film) for – mostly one year – stays in Berlin.
The Federal Foreign Office uses the remaining funds mainly to promote major cultural projects that are of considerable significance in terms of cultural relations policy and have international reach. Particular importance is attached here not only to artistic quality but also to regional prioritization, sustainability and cooperation with institutions and prominent individuals in the host country.
The main elements of our programme work are
promotion of exhibitions, exchange and contacts between artists, information and advisory services;
support for guest performances: tours abroad by musical ensembles, theatre and dance groups, donations of instruments and music;
promotion of literature: publication of cultural periodicals and books; supplying material to German libraries and reading rooms abroad; participation in book fairs abroad; funding book information centres; translation assistance; reading tours and fact finding trips by authors and publishers; library liaison work;
promotion of film: as well as funding for the screening and distribution of films, participation of German directors in international film festivals, numerous co production agreements, help in presenting foreign films and directors at German film festivals (e.g. Berlin’s International Film Festival).
Besides presenting the work of German/German based artists and German cultural institutions abroad, our cultural programme work has come to include another important element: exchange with representatives of other cultures. Implementing the idea of cultural communication as a “two way street”, the Federal Foreign Office provides funding – mainly through the Goethe Institut and the Institute for Foreign Relations – to conduct cultural projects from developing countries or enable artists from these countries to take part in cultural events in Germany, which lack of resources would otherwise have made impossible. An institution deserving particular mention here is the House of World Cultures in Berlin, which also receives Federal Foreign Office support for its jointly organized programmes that include concerts, readings, exhibitions and symposiums.
With its global network of more than 130 institutes, the Goethe Institute plays a central role in promoting the study of German abroad. It also encourages international cultural exchange and fosters knowledge about Germany by providing information on its culture, society and politics.
The ifa organises worldwide touring exhibitions of German art, exhibitions of artists from developing and transforming countries in the ifa Galleries in Berlin and Stuttgart. It organises international symposia, stages programmes in the fields of cultural integration and issues the magazine “Zeitschrift für Kulturaustausch”.