A consequence of the broad range of cultural activity in Liechtenstein – at the very heart of Europe – and a growing foreign population is the creation of national and international intercultural exchange programmes. By way of illustration, the national agency “aha” is responsible for the EU programme “Youth in Action”. As a result, a wide variety of opportunities are made available to Liechtenstein’s young people: They can, for example, gather experience in another EU country by working for a non-profit organisation coordinated by the European Volunteer Service (EVS). Included are also cultural activities focusing on integration. The programme opens the door to opportunities for new partnerships throughout Europe. Liechtenstein has also established a network with “aha” partners in the Austrian province of Vorarlberg and in the small southern German town of Ravensburg.
Young artists are especially promoted. The Cultural Foundation established by the state awards two scholarships per year to young professional artists, enabling them to spend a work year abroad with the purpose of augmenting their education at music and art schools, institutes of higher education or in studios. Since September 2006, Liechtenstein has also maintained at the disposal of Liechtenstein artists a studio with living quarters in Berlin serving as an artistic, cultural and social centre linking all spheres of art. Additionally, Liechtenstein invites artists from neighbouring countries to attend exhibits at the English Building Art Space, which highlights the current artistic activities in both Liechtenstein and the immediate region. Cooperation for the support of professional artists is available through public as well as private cultural sources.
A unique type of bridge connecting Austria and Liechtenstein is afforded by the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna. On the initiative of Reigning Prince Hans-Adam II, it was renovated and presented to the art world in March 2004 as both a modern museum and a baroque synthesis of the arts. Displayed at the Liechtenstein Museum is the most notable Rubens cycle in the world, in addition to other masterpieces from the Princely Collections. It was also here in October 2006 in Vienna’s largest baroque hall that Liechtenstein celebrated its 200 years of sovereignty. The Princely House and the country’s culture are considered the foremost factors for presenting Liechtenstein to the world. On occasion, the Liechtenstein Museum cooperates with Switzerland as well. In 2008 – the first event of this sort took place in 1948 – the Lucerne Museum of Art presented an exhibition including works from the private collection belonging to the Prince’s house. In 2009, significant Biedermeier works from the Collections of the Reigning Prince of Liechtenstein were also exhibited at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.
From October 2012 to June 2013, 140 important works of art from the Collections of the Prince of Liechtenstein were exhibited in Japan and Singapore. The focus was on the history of the Princely Family and on paintings of the Vienna Biedermeier. From November 2013 to May 2014, the Liechtenstein Museum for the first time presented a major exhibition in China. From 12 March to 2 June 2014, the exhibition entitled “Rubens, Van Dyck, and the Flemish School of Painting: Masterpieces from the Collections of the Prince of Liechtenstein” was presented in the China Art Museum in Shanghai. This gigantic museum complex resides in a new building that opened on 20 September 2012 in the spectacular Chinese pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.
Alongside this policy of exhibiting works of the Princely Collections to the public not only in the Garden and City Palaces in Vienna, the acquisition policy of the Collections is also being pursued systematically. With important works by Lucas Cranach the Elder (“Venus”), Lorenzo Costa (“The Adoration of the Three Kings”), Pier Jacopo Alari Bonacolsi, alias L’Antico (“Hercules with the Lion’s Pelt”), Jacob Jordaens (“As the Old Sang, So the Young Pipe”) or Bernardo Bellotto (“Pirna an der Elbe with Castle Sonnenstein, St. Mary’s Church and the Town Hall Tower, Viewed from the Vicinity of the Village Posta”), the Collections have recently been enriched by important works that as a rule are soon exhibited to the public in the Vienna palaces or in the exhibitions abroad.
In 2010, 300 Classicist and Biedermeier works from the Princely Collections were also shown in Palais Waldstein in Prague. H.S.H. Prince Hans-Adam II opened the exhibition. Liechtenstein and the Czech Republic are linked by the centuries of the Princely House’s history in Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia, but only in 2009 did the two countries re-establish diplomatic relations. The origin of the previously cool relations was the dispute concerning confiscation of the Princely Family’s property in 1945. Pursuant to the Beneš Decrees, possessions of the Princely House of Liechtenstein were expropriated after the Second World War. A commission of historians is currently examining the shared history of the two countries.
In December 2010, a Liechtenstein-Czech Commission of Historians with equal membership from both countries began its work, investigating the historical relations between the Czech Republic and its predecessor countries (Czechoslovakia, Austria-Hungary, Lands of the Bohemian Crown) and Liechtenstein. A volume entitled “Liechtenstein Places of Remembrance in the Lands of the Bohemian Crown” was published in December 2012. The topics in this volume cover a wide range; it clearly demonstrates the importance of the House of Liechtenstein in the Lands of the Bohemian Crown until the creation of Czechoslovakia. Volume 3 on “The Liechtensteins and Art” is in preparation. Volume 2 on “The Liechtensteins: Continuities – Discontinuities” and Volume 4 on “The Princely House, the State of Liechtenstein, and Czechoslovakia in the 20th Century” were published in 2013. In January 2014, the report of the Commission of Historians was published, and the foreign ministers of the two countries decided to promote mutual understanding with the help of lectures, exhibitions, and other media. They also agreed to intensify their political dialogue within the framework of European integration and international organisations such as the UN and the OSCE.
Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes
Peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding between different cultural communities is a permanent Liechtenstein policy goal. On an international level, Liechtenstein is engaged at the UN, which reinforces the dialogue between countries, cultures and civilisations. The country is open to foreign labour and sets a high priority on integration. In recent years – even before the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008 – this dialogue has increased. Numerous small minority groups representing approximately 90 nations reside in Liechtenstein.
The main characteristics of the national integration policy are based on these principles: promoting and demanding. “Promoting” includes measures for improving mutual understanding between the host society and the immigrant population. “Demanding” means the expectation of efforts on the part of the authorities and all members of society, chiefly from the immigrants themselves. Since 2008, the task of integrating all minorities and combating racism has been in the hands of the Office of Equal Opportunity.
Since 2001, the Association for Intercultural Education (ViB) – established on the initiative of the Office of Social Affairs (OSA) – has been responsible for a more simplified integration of foreign-language residents. It offers German courses, organises tours of museums and works together with the Swiss Umbrella Association for Reading and Writing to combat illiteracy. The minimally qualified and those with a history of immigration provide a high percentage of participants. Individuals lacking reading and writing skills run the risk of socio-economic, cultural and social marginalisation, according to the consensus.
Government’s overall approach to intercultural dialogue