Musical bands with international members, plays with German and refugee actors: Culture and art projects are good for solidarity in a society, a German study finds.
Art and cultural diversity are closely interrelated, according to a joint study by Germany's Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation and UNESCO's German commission (DUK) that was released on Thursday.
Projects are successful when they reach members of the social majority as well as migrants and refugees, the study's authors found, adding that music and dance projects are particularly suitable because they overcome language barriers.
The study states that exhibitions, workshops and festivals "communicate fundamental challenges" and help improve understanding — but the authors acknowledge that cultural projects can't solve problems of racism and intolerance.
The study, entitled Art in the immigrant society, described Germany as largely diverse and cosmopolitan, home to people from about 200 countries with different cultural backgrounds and values. Cultural activities help reflect and shape cooperation and a collective identity, say the study's researchers.
The study examines 12 intercultural projects in Germany, including the European-Arabic Heroes dance network, the Migrantenstadl blog and the Banda Internationale band from Dresden (top picture) that campaigns against racism.
In northern Germany, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen orchestra staged an opera with students in a neighborhood of largely migrant families, while the Komische Oper in Berlin launched the intercultural Selam Opera! project and Berlin's Jewish Museum invited refugee children to libraries.
DUK's Christine Merkel urges Germany to provide a sound financial framework and thus more planning security for cultural institutions. Artists from migrant families need more support, the UNESCO expert says: "It's not only about art for migrants, it's about art by and with migrants."
Showing courage to develop diversity is worthwhile for cultural institutions, for the public, concludes Kai Unzicker, a senior project manager and expert for social solidarity at the Bertelsmann foundation. "But most of all, it pays off for society."
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