Why cooperate internationally?

Why should we work internationally or cooperate at all? What happens when people from different cultural backgrounds create culture together?

For 10 years cultural actors from all over the world have been meeting in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) through the International Visitors Programme, which focuses on the cultural interests of both, the international guests and their partners from NRW. Many meetings have led to lasting networks, partnerships and cooperations. International and local partners will introduce four of these alliances. They will talk about their experiences of international exchange, its possibilities and its obstacles.

These short keynote addresses will form the starting point for group discussions. They will explore some of the country and sector-specific challenges of international cultural work, finally returning to the question, ‘Why cooperate internationally?’


AlarmTheater (Bielefeld, Germany) & Cia. Arthur-Arnaldo (São Paulo, Brazil)

Kulturforum Alte Post (Neuss, Germany) & Helen Harris (Windhoek, Namibia)

Videonale (Bonn, Germany) & ArtVilnius (Vilnius, Lithuania)

kainkollektiv (Bochum, Germany) & Teatr Nowy Proxima (Krakow, Poland)

Following their encounter as part of the International Visitors Programme in January 2018, a very fruitful exchange took place between the Bielefeld AlarmTheater’s International Youth Ensemble and the young participants of the theatre project Cia.Arthur-Arnaldo in São Paulo which led to the creation of the German-Brazilian production Human Echoes/Human Shields that had its premiere in Germany and Brazil in 2019.

The International Visitors Programme also fostered a very productive exchange between Helen Harris, former curator at the National Art Gallery of Namibia and founder of the StArt Art Gallery in Windhoek, and Klaus Richter, curator at Kulturforum Alte Post in Neuss. Together they have organised exhibitions with visual artists from Namibia and North Rhine-Westphalia exhibiting both in Germany and Africa as well as growing a flourishing German-Namibian network in recent years.

As a result of a similar ongoing exchange between Germany and Lithuania, in June 2017 the international contemporary art fair ArtVilnius’17 hosted the Videonale Bonn, the Festival for Video and Time-Based Arts, with an exhibition of 13 works of the Videonale.16 selection. 

The longest-standing exchange however has been between kainkollektiv from Bochum and the Teatr Nowy Proxima in Krakow who have collaborated regularly for the past ten years including on their recent production The Golden Age of Extremes which premiered in June this year in Germany and Poland.