Interkulturelle Öffnung der Bundeskulturverbände (Intercultural openness of cultural associations in Germany)

Publication Type:



Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal Ministry of Education and Research), Bonn and Berlin (2010)



Within the framework of its federally funded programme “Structural conditions for sustainable intercultural education”, the German Cultural Council carried out research on the prerequisites needed to achieve this in an attempt to ground the topics of participation and intercultural education in cultural policy debates.
In this context, the German Cultural Council’s study examines the institutional conditions around interculturality that prevail within the Council’s indirect member organisations. Assuming a relation between the involvement of migrants within the organisations on the one hand and the core theme of interculturality on the other, the author Kristin Bäßler asked the German cultural associations about their work related to interculturality and about their migrant members (regular, board and committee members).
The report was issued and funded by the Department of Arts and Cultural Education at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Research project

The research programme “Structural conditions for sustainable intercultural education” ran from July 2008 to November 2011. The research project discussed here was one of its outcomes and revolved around two principle questions:

  1. Do cultural associations in Germany address issues of integration and intercultural education?
  2. To what extent are migrants and migrant organisations involved as members in federal cultural associations?

Finally, the study aims to examine the following hypothesis:

Does the prevalence of persons with a migrant background in the internal membership structures of Germany’s cultural associations have any impact on their commitment to the issue of integration and intercultural education?

Whilst these issues do not appear to have a direct link to the arts and cultural education, a closer look at the research interest, as well as its operationalisation and outcomes, reveals the role that the arts and cultural education has to play in the German discourse surrounding issues related to the arts and interculturality.

The German Cultural Council as the study’s institutional author

The German Cultural Council is the umbrella organisation for eight cultural associations in Germany, which are themselves umbrella organisations for 257 cultural organisations in total (July 2017).

These associations include the German Music Council, the German Literature Conference and the Council for Socio-Culture and Arts Education.

As the German Cultural Council is one of the Germany’s principle centres of expertise in terms of cultural policy, it shapes cultural-political debates and is involved in setting the agenda for related topics. The study’s author Kristin Bäßler states that the German Cultural Council is committed to implementing the recommendations of the national integration plan launched in 2007.

Research method and underlying assumptions

The survey used a standardised, non-anonymous questionnaire, involving open and closed questions related to the two research questions and is divided into two parts.

The concept of interculturality used in the survey was not defined. When addressing the core topic, the questionnaire uses the terms “intercultural education” and “integration”, whereas the term “migrant/person with a migrant background” is used in the questions dealing with membership structures. This leads to the assumption that the author’s idea of interculturality is strongly linked to the political objective of migrant participation (in culture).

The subject of arts and cultural education is largely addressed indirectly in relation to the key focus areas of the organisations responding to the survey. Since the remit of such organisations is presumably based on the organisations’ own definition, any other interpretation would be incorrect.

Outcome & conclusions

The questionnaire was sent to the German Cultural Council’s then 226 indirect member organisations. The effective response rate was 32 percent (73 responses).

For her analysis, Bäßler describes the sample according to membership (eight category groups: music, performing arts/dance, visual arts, building culture/architecture, design, film/audio-visual media, socio-culture/arts education), members (artists, cultural institutions, cultural mediators, cultural associations, cultural industries) and cooperation forms.

Before we refer to the study’s results, it should be noted that we are talking about a relatively small sample, a fact that is reflected in the relation between absolute and relative numbers. The small sample of observations, combined with a relatively large number of subcategories, needs to be taken into account when interpreting the results. Also, the survey asked the participants to indicate their share of members with a migrant background. Since corresponding data was not available, the participation rate (serving as an independent variable) could only be estimated.

That being said, the study’s most interesting results in terms of the arts and cultural education sector may be summarised as follows:

  • The organisations under the umbrella of the Council for Socio-Culture and Arts Education had the highest response rate of all eight sectors, suggesting a high willingness to engage in topics related to migration and interculturality.
  • However, this is not reflected in the corresponding (estimated) share of migrant members, although the respondent organisations of the Council for Socio-Culture and Arts Education indicate a relatively high percentage of organisations with migrant board members.
  • The cultural mediation organisations exhibit the highest participation rate of migrants on committees. The same is true for the socio-cultural and arts education organisations when the respondents are broken down into categories.
  • In her introduction to the second part of the survey evaluation, Bäßler stresses the role of arts and cultural education organisations in applying arts and culture to intercultural challenges. Although not a conclusion, it is still worth mentioning as it refers to commonly held assumptions on the relationship between arts, arts education and intercultural competence. It also aligns with the fact that, according to the survey, 100 percent of those socio-cultural and arts education organisations that responded are addressing issues related to integration and interculturality.
  • In her conclusion, Bäßler mentions the large contrast between the large number of socio-cultural and arts education organisations that are addressing the topic of integration and interculturality (100%), and the small number of institutions that have migrant members (33%). She puts this fact forward as one indicator that the study’s hypothesis does not stand up to scrutiny.