Cultural diversity in general
Cultural diversity has become increasingly important in Germany in recent years. This can be seen in a variety of publications, studies, programmes, events and projects by cultural institutions on this topic. In 2013, a separate institution on diversity was established in North Rhine-Westphalia – the Zukunfts-akademie NRW as a centre for diversity in art, culture and cultural education – which, however, ceased to work due to the end of funding in late 2019, with the dossiers and handouts created remaining as a store of knowledge on the academy’s internet platform. Other important players in this area are the Federal Foreign Office, the UNESCO Commission, the Federal Cultural Foundation – regional actors are also increasingly dealing with cultural diversity..
A change from interculture to transculture or diversity can also be seen in the discussion of terms in recent years.
In June 2017, the initiative DIE VIELEN (THE MANY) was launched. Its goal is “to promote international
attitudes, tolerance in all areas of culture and international understanding,
and the promotion of popular education. THE MANY wants to strengthen communication
and opportunities for action among artists, ensembles and actors in the
performing and visual arts. This applies in particular to artists for whom
theatre and art provide means to work on a society that is composed of people
of all skin colours and gender variations, sexual orientations, needs and
abilities, from religious and not religious.” The initiative has launched a Declaration
of the Many, which has now been signed as a declaration in numerous
municipalities and federal states by more than 2,500 cultural institutions as a
signal for an open society against racism, discrimination and national
 For example, Mandel, Birgit (2013): Intercultural Audience Development. Future strategies for publicly funded cultural institutions, Bielefeld: Transcript.
 For example, the programme Living Diversity – Shaping Society by the Bertelsmann Foundation.
 For example, the development of concepts for the diversity-oriented opening of different cultural institutions.
National / international intercultural dialogue
The intercultural dialogue in Germany relates both to conversations within the country (with groups of the population who have a migration background) and those at the international level. In the global context, the most important actors and programmes in Germany are those of foreign cultural policy (see chapter 1.4.): in particular the Goethe Institute, the Institute for Cultural Exchange, (ifa) the House of World Cultures (Haus der Kulturen der Welt), the Federal Foreign Office (AA) and the German UNESCO Commission (DUK). In recent years, debates on the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions have been the focus of the activities of the DUK, which involved a broad alliance of political and social actors (see chapter 1.4.2).
Many cultural institutions of various forms in cities and towns have committed themselves to intercultural dialogue and developed numerous programmes and activities. These activities often link intercultural dialogue with people who have a migration background and live in Germany, with global cultural dialogue, for example intercultural theatre, music and film festivals or the Carnival of Cultures, a parade of different ethnic and cultural groups on the streets of e.g. Berlin, Bielefeld or Frankfurt.
In the last years, the government, especially the Federal Foreign Office (AA), has been setting up some programmes to support trans-national intercultural dialogue. Worth mentioning is the programme “kulturweit” by the German Commission for UNESCO in cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office. Since 2009, this international cultural volunteer service for young adults offers the opportunity to become active in the foreign cultural and educational policy of the Federal Foreign Office for six to twelve months. The places of assignment are situated in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America as well as in Middle and Eastern Europe. The goal of the programme is to strengthen intercultural competencies of young adults but also to contribute to a higher visibility of foreign cultural relations and education policy. “kulturweit” is organised by the German Commission for UNESCO and is realised through its partner organisations in the Foreign Cultural and Educational Policy domiciled in Germany.
In addition, the institutions mentioned in chapter 1.4 are also active in this area. Another important actor is the Federal Cultural Foundation (Bundeskulturstiftung), with many programmes and projects on cross-border intercultural dialogue, for example the Initiative Fellowship International Museum and the 2012 established programme TURN – Funds for German-African Cooperation.
Some private foundations are very engaged as well, such as the Mercator Foundation with its centre for International Affairs and the current thematic cluster on integration or the Bosch Foundation with projects on international understanding. Twelve German foundations, including the Allianz Culture Foundation, the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Volkswagen Foundation, have formed the group Engaged Europeans (Engagierte Europäer), which aims to deepen European integration with several projects. But also regional actors are increasingly active in this field.
The Intercultural Council (Interkultureller Rat) was founded in 1994, bringing together people from different backgrounds and nationalities as well as different societal groups such as labour unions, employers’ associations, religious groups, migrant and human rights organisations, municipalities and government branches, representatives from the media, science and sport. The Council initiated round tables and discussion forums and developed and tested pilot projects.
In 2003, the second federal cultural-political congress of the Association for Cultural Policy (Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft) took place in Berlin on the subject of “inter.kultur.politik”.
In 2005, an intercultural network Ratschlag Interkultur was established, engaging individuals and institutions. It is coordinated by the Association for Cultural Policy (Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft) and works together with the Commission of UNESCO in Germany. The main projects of the initiative since 2006 are the federal conferences held biennially and the expert symposiums to discuss theoretical and practical issues. In the autumn of 2012, the 4th nationwide conference Diversity: Realities, Concepts, Visions was held in Hamburg. The title emphasises that recently the “diversity approach” has gained more and more significance over the “intercultural approach”. The 5th conference 2014 in Mannheim had the title Moving Homelands (Heimaten bewegen), the 6th conference 2017 in Braunschweig Land in Sight. Intercultural visions for today and tomorrow (Land in Sicht. Interkulturelle Visionen für heute und morgen).
The first German Islam Conference took place in 2006. It is a dialogue forum between representatives of the German state and Muslims in Germany. The aim of the long-term dialogue is to promote cooperation and social cohesion. In its first phase from 2006 to 2009, the forum primarily negotiated fundamental questions and developed the legal framework. In its second phase from 2010 to 2013, it was about their implementation and the anchoring of the German Islam Conference in society. In doing so, the conference devoted itself to three thematic complexes: the establishment of an institutionalised cooperation between the state and Muslims, to live gender equality as a common value and the prevention of extremism, radicalisation and social polarisation. The focus of the third period (2014-2017) was strengthening Islamic welfare and social participation, as well as practicing religion and participating in religious law. In its fourth phase, the Islam Conference has repositioned itself: it no longer meets in fixed forums and formats, “but sees itself as the framework and stage for a dialogue and exchange by and with Muslims on the overarching question of how an Islam can and looks like in, from and for Germany”. It will have a practical, flexible and open-topic structure.
Since 2009, the Institute for International Relations (ifa) has been awarding the Intercultural Film Award. The award honours films that deal with issues of international understanding, peacekeeping and intercultural dialogue in a particularly substantive and aesthetic manner, and films that generally do not have a distribution in Germany and are therefore often publicly inaccessible in Germany.
The Academy of the Arts of the World was founded in Cologne in 2011 to promote intercultural dialogue within the arts. It gathers well-known artists, musicians, dancers, theorists, authors, curators and other cultural actors from all over the world and from all fields who, as an artist society, determine and shape the programme of the academy.
In January 2019, the Federal Cabinet decided to appoint a commission for integration capability, of which the members are proposed by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration. The aim of the commission is to describe the economic, labour market, social and demographic framework conditions for integration and to propose standards for how these can be improved. To this end, the commission will submit a report in 2020 and present its recommendations.
Annually on May 21st, Germany celebrates the World Day of Cultural Diversity. In May 2017, the Initiative for Cultural Integration published fifteen theses on the role of culture in living together in a plural, cosmopolitan society.