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House of World Cultures to set new accents in future: renovation work scheduled from 2006

From 2005 on, the House of World Cultures will be accenting key areas in a new way. In future, apart from the performance festival IN TRANSIT, every year will focus on two main interdisciplinary projects, each accompanied by an extensive programme drawing on all the various arts areas. The House of World Cultures 2005 spring programme highlights a major exhibition “On Beauty”, while autumn is dedicated totally to South East Asia.
This consolidation is the executive management’s reaction to the budget cuts announced by the Federal Foreign Ministry in May 2004 and already taking effect this financial year. As the director of the House of World Cultures, Hans-Georg Knopp, put it: "Despite cutting costs, we have remained true to our project work’s main aim - providing a platform where the contemporary arts can create a dynamic dialogue with non-European cultures. These major interdisciplinary festivals continue this tradition in a myriad of forms. The House of World Cultures is the only place in Germany hosting this kind of dialogue – which lends our venue its unique character. In our role as a location for cultural encounters, we are especially concerned to offer our audiences exciting new programmes. Since 2000, the number of visitors has risen steadily - a trend we hope will continue this year too.”
In this context, one main priority will be enlarging the House of World Cultures’ already extensive international network, consolidated over the recent years. In future, cooperation with other cultural institutions and facilities will remain high on the agenda, and generate a key impulse in the process of restructuring programmes no longer able to be fully funded under the House of World Cultures’ reduced budget. This includes Festivals like "popdeurope", due to receive a new funding structure from 2005 on while, if at all feasible, keeping the House of World Cultures as its venue. Although neither "Transonic" nor the "Festival of Sacred Music" will continue in their previous form, the content they offered – new and traditional music – will still play an important role in the House of World Cultures interdisciplinary projects. Partnerships, such as the close cooperation with the Asia-Pacific Weeks or the institutional cooperation with Beijing’s Millennium Art Museum, will ensure new synergies are created in the House of World Cultures’ work in the international cultural arena.
The House of World Cultures is also scheduled for thorough renovation, just in time for the building’s fiftieth anniversary in 2007. The extensive renovation work is likely to require the building to be closed to the public from summer 2006 to spring 2007. The renovation is also designed to up-date exhibition spaces and auditoriums, but without changing the special character of this listed building. The work is long overdue, as many of the rooms have not been renovated since the former Congress Centre was opened in 1957, a gift from the USA to Berlin. Once the building has reopened, a major interdisciplinary festival is scheduled, focussing on how migrants from Asia and South America have decisively shaped the face of North America today. The restoration has been made possible by a federal grant especially earmarked for the work.