Annual Report 2020: Impressions of an Unusual Year

Societies around the world have been marked by the Corona pandemic. ifa, too, has been impacted, and like the rest of the world, the institute found new ways to bring people together, maintaining cultural exchange despite closed borders.

'Especially at a time when the pandemic is significantly impacting our work, we need to respond quickly and flexibly to changes, develop a stance and show composure', ifa President Ulrich Raulff writes in his foreword of last year's annual report 'Weltweit 2020'. New digital means both sustained and changed the institute's endeavours, and the annual report shows the various ways our work has adapted to a challenging year.

Annual Report Available for Download (in German language)

Request for hard copy of 'Weltweit 2020' to info(at)

In keeping with the institute's digital transformation, some of the yearbook's contributions include additional online materials. Here's a compilation of last year's highlights:

Virtual Art Made Real with ARE YOU FOR REAL

The virtual project ARE YOU FOR REAL shows how art can reach people despite the Corona pandemic. Artists, researchers and software developers collaborated to create an online platform where social issues, like those surrounding the European Union, colonialism and sustainability, could be handled artistically, immersing visitors in a virtual reality.

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Nushin Yazdani & Can Karaalioglu: Into the Pluriverse – Douniah's World, 2020, VR work, © the artists

The Perspective of the German Minority in Eastern Europe

'Nationalities are things of interest, not things that should ostracise,' says Tomasz Cuber. He's one of eight other people from Poland, Hungary and Slovakia to report on life in the German minority in Eastern Europe. Fitting for the 25th anniversary of ifa's Deployment Programme, each person provides insights into the search for one's roots and the struggle to find one's own identity. From their life stories, we learn how hostile nations – while not always the best of friends – came to be good neighbours. The German minority includes students, seniors and people in the middle of their professional careers, and each person tells their story in this 25-minute documentary.



Thinking Outside of the Cultural Box: The Digital CrossCulture Programme 2020

Screenshot of an online workshop addressing the topic of non-formal political education, October 2020. Photo: CCP, ifa

Last year, the CrossCulture Programme (CCP) explored the ins and outs of funding, networking and exchange across borders from the comfort of home. At the same time, CCP also celebrated its 15th anniversary online with over 200 participants. Thankfully, this digital transition didn't get in the way of our work! Two English-language publications emerged from last year's programme addressing the topics of non-formal political education and digital civil society.

Both publications are available to download for free.

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'For Effective Policy, We Need Gender Equality'

Lorena Fries is a lawyer and the president of the Chilean humanitarian organisation 'Humanas – Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Género', which is supported by ifa's zivik Funding Programme. In an interview with ifa, she explains why Chile's National Action Plan for the empowerment of women falls short and what an inclusive interpretation of human rights could look like.

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Lorena Fries 2020 Chile, Corporación Humanas

'Countries send artists abroad to generate political symbolism'

The ifa Research Award on Foreign Cultural Policy celebrated its 20th anniversary, awarding Tobias Reichard the prize in 2020. In an interview, he explains the link between music and politics and how this connection shaped the relationship between Germany and Italy while the countries were under fascist regimes.



'There is a Strong Need to Develop New Narratives that are African Specific'

Photo: Avril Joffe

During the Corona pandemic, some African countries set up their first government aid programmes for cultural workers. Many of these were aimed at securing economic opportunities in the arts and culture. However, according to Avril Joffe in an interview with ifa, reducing the cultural and creative industries strictly to entertainment undermines the role that culture and the arts play in African society. Joffe heads the Cultural Policy and Management Department at the Wits School of Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, and she is a member of the network 'International Cultural Relations Research Alliance' (ICRRA).

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