Entrance to the ifa-building Stuttgart, Photo: Steffen Honzera, 2010
ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) is Germany’s oldest intermediary organisation for international cultural relations, having celebrated its centenary in 2017. It promotes a peaceful and enriching coexistence between people and cultures worldwide. Its programmes pursue five core themes: Cultural Exchange, Dialogue of Civil Societies, Migration & Culture, Culture & Conflict, and Europe. ifa supports artistic and cultural exchange in exhibition, dialogue and conference programmes, and it acts as a centre of excellence for international cultural relations. It is part of a global network and relies on sustainable, long-term partnerships.
The ifa is supported by the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, the state of Baden-Württemberg and its capital Stuttgart.
Germany’s oldest intermediary organization for foreign cultural relations was founded during the First World War on January 10th, 1917 as “a work of peace in the midst of war.” After the intense developmental phase of the Weimar Republic, its misappropriation and forcible cooptation during National Socialism, and its re-establishment in the early Federal Republic of Germany, ifa is now considered a center of competence for international cultural relations and artistic discourse. ifa offers extensive opportunities for cultural exchange and civil conflict management. The basis of the institute’s international work is its vast network of national and global partners.
Our work today
People meeting each other is a prerequisite for mutual understanding and recognition. Mutual understanding is only developed through dialogue. This is where the work of ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) begins. We trust in the great potential of civil society initiatives in order to put our own national perspective in relation to others. An essential point of reference is culture. However, this is not a matter of culture in a narrow sense, but in global contexts, such as climate issues and conflict prevention. For instance, what cultural aspects should be kept in mind during civil conflict prevention? What influence do cultural categories have on development cooperation and its sustainability? We aim to alert policy-makers to cultural aspects of action, as well as cultural players to its political aspects.
With its exhibition funding programme the ifa supports projects of contemporary German artists or artists with residence in Germany. The Artists’ Contacts programme promotes the international cooperation of German and foreign persons engaged in the cultural sector. The Rave Scholarships for junior employees form transition or developing country allow practical training at German museums, galleries or similar non-commercial institutions.
The Venice Biennale is widely acknowledged to be the most renowned international arts exhibition in the world. Since 1971, the ifa, put in charge by the Federal Foreign Office, coordinates Germany’s contribution presented in the German Pavilion.
CrossCulture Programme (CCP)
With the CrossCulture Programme, ifa strengthens intercultural dialogue and the expansion of networks between Germany and Islamic countries. During their stay in the other country, young professionals can gain international experience and develop intercultural skills.
The ifa’s deployment programme involves sending cultural managers and editors to associations in German minority communities in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe as well as to the Commonwealth of Independent States. They support the work undertaken by local organisations relating to culture, the press, youth and education. The dedication of the cultural managers and editors helps to establish a modern image of Germany at the same time as promoting dialogue between the general population, German minorities and the countries themselves.
ifa plans and organises exhibitions of contemporary art from Germany, presenting insights into the fine arts, photography and film, and design and architecture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. These exhibitions tour the world for several years and are shown in international museums all over the world. In our diverse art education programmes we link the German art scene with international artists and cultural institutions and protagonists, setting up cooperation projects and networks. Our exhibitions create local forums for encounter, open up international perspectives, and build sustained stores of knowledge. ifa also provides loans to museums for special exhibitions and presentations.
Humanitarian assistance aims at alleviating the suffering of people in need as a result of natural disasters, crises, armed conflicts or other circumstances. With its corresponding funding programme, ifa partners up with the German Federal Foreign Office to strengthen the cooperation between governmental- and non-governmental organisations. The programme seeks to detect emergencies at an early stage and provide swift, flexible and unbureaucratic assistance where it is most needed.
The ifa Galleries in Stuttgart and Berlin showcase contemporary art, architecture and design from transition and developing countries in particular. The topics vary depending on the country and political relevance, and they range from climate protection and the culture of memory to colonial history. The exhibitions are accompanied by events, workshops and public programmes.
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Integration and Media
The Integration and Media programme makes an important contribution to cultural relations within Europe and beyond. In Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, as well as in the CIS, the ifa is engaged in democratisation processes and the strengthening of civil society. A main focus is on the support of German minorities abroad.
“Kulturaustausch – journal for international perspectives” presents current topics about worldwide cultural relations. Authors from around the world examine the interaction between policy, culture and society. The magazine reaches readers in nearly 150 countries. Published quarterly, it addresses a central topic in each issue.
Disseminating positions and best practice from Germany with the aim of collectively shaping the future is the objective of the Lecture Programme of the German Federal Government, which ifa has been implementing since 1995. ifa supports diplomatic missions in selecting topics, developing concepts and organising events, and facilitates contacts with distinguished German personalities from science, culture, the economy and politics.
The ifa Library is the leading research library worldwide specialising in German foreign cultural and educational policies and international cultural relations. Its collection currently consists of 440,000 books and 1,000 print and online magazines. The library participates in national and international interlibrary loan services.
Die Initiative ist ein vom Auswärtigen Amt gefördertes Gemeinschaftsprojekt des ifa und des Goethe-Instituts und unterstützt Kunst und Kulturschaffende sowie zivilgesellschaftliche Akteure, indem sie temporäre Schutzaufenthalte in Deutschland und sicheren Drittstaaten ermöglicht.
In ifa’s research programme “Culture and Foreign Policy”, experts examine current topics in the area of foreign cultural and educational policy (AKBP). In three to six month long research projects they prepare studies and formulate recommendations for future foreign cultural policy measures.
The “Wissenschaftlicher Initiativkreis Kultur- und Außenpolitik (WIKA)”, a scientific initiative group on culture and foreign policy brings university professors, researchers and practitioners together in order to promote such points in research and teaching, encouraging them to enthuse their students.
The zivik programme advises non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the German Federal Foreign Office on civilian conflict resolution. The zivik team promotes, documents and evaluates projects implemented in crisis regions throughout the world. The programme is financed through funding provided by the German Federal Foreign Office.