Philanthropy, Development and the Arts Conference, 23-25 July, 2018

Philanthropy Conference 23-25 July 2018_posterPhilanthropic foundations and more broadly non-governmental organizations (NGOS) step in when the state steps back. Since the early 20th century the Rockefeller Foundation (founded in 1913) has invested hugely not only in medicine, local educational establishments or the sciences, but (since the 1930s) also in the arts and humanities, in numerous countries. The Ford Foundation, founded in 1936, still plays an important role in the promotion and sponsoring of the arts and cultural institutions in different parts of the world, as does the MacArthur foundation (est. 1970), to name but a few of the ‘global philanthropic players‘.

Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries researchers, scientists, representatives of the arts, organisations or projects have been subsidized by private as much as by public money. Philanthropic and NGO initiatives played an eminent part in cultural sponsoring in the aftermath of World War II, especially in the so-called emerging countries, where government aid was rare or even non-existent. They contributed to “development”, a core goal of the post-war period and the subject of intense critical interrogation in recent years.

Are philanthropic foundations therefore supporters of “global civil society organizations” trying to “humanize globalization”, (Anheier 2005) or are they driven by political power silently infiltrating the projects, individuals and institutions they support? “It is difficult to believe that philanthropy – literally, “love of all mankind”– could possibly be malignant” notes Inderjeet Parmar, thereby implying the opposite: philanthropy can be a cover for highly political and instrumental agendas (Parmar 2012).

At our conference, Philanthropy, Development and the Arts: Histories and Theories, we seek to interrogate the impact of philanthropy on the field of arts – visual arts, theatre, music, dance, opera, drama education, etc. –  between the 19th and 21st centuries. The conference aims at discussing the work, impact, successes and failures of private and corporate philanthropy and NGOs, including semi-statist organizations such as the Goethe Institut, or the British Council, from the perspectives of history, cultural history, political sciences, art and theatre history.

Further information on the conference will be regularly updated here.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Prof. Dr. Volker Berghahn Columbia University New York, Department of History

Prof. Dr. Inderjeet Parmar, City University London, Department of International Politics


PD Dr Nic Leonhardt & Prof Dr Christopher Balme

ERC Project Developing Theatre 


 “Philanthropy, Development and the Arts – Histories and Theories“

International Conference, organized by the ERC project Developing Theatre, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Germany

23-25 July, 2018, Carl Friedrich von Siemens-Stiftung, Munich