CfP: Philanthropy, Development, and the Arts. International Conference

The international conference „Philanthropy, Development and the Arts: Histories and Theories“ takes place in Munich from 23 to 25 July 2018. Therefore the ERC project "Developing Theatre" seeks to interrogate the impact of philanthropy on the field of arts – visual arts, theatre, music, dance, opera, drama education, etc. 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. The submission deadline is 30 November 2017.

Philanthropic 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).

The paper proposals must address the following aspects:

  • Shifting discourses of philanthropy in respect to arts and cultural funding
  • Philanthropic and NGO initiatives in the arts in countries such as Africa, India, Chile, etc.
  • From colonialism to philanthropy: the de/re-colonization of cultural aid
  • Philanthropy vs./ the state: how non-governmental can non-governmental organizations be?
  • Case studies on the private funding of arts and artists with a special focus on development
  • Case studies on field officers, representatives and ‘arts experts’ in charge of philanthropic foundations and NGOs
  • Soft power: arts philanthropy and cultural diplomacy
  • Other related topics will also be considered.

Please send an abstract of 200-250 words plus a short biographical note (100-150 words) to the conference organizers,
PD Dr Nic Leonhardt: and
Prof Dr Christopher Balme:

by 30 November, 2017

Participants whose papers are selected will be eligible for funding. 

More information:
H. Anheier and S. Daly, “Philanthropic Foundations: A New Global Force?” in Global Civil Society 2004–05, ed. Helmut Anheier, Marlies Glasius, and Mary Kaldor (London: Sage, 2005.
I. Parmar: Foundations of the American Century. The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power. New York: Columbia University Press 2012, p.1-2.

Management Topic: Policy & Research
Cultural Area: Public+Academic Sector
Submitted by editor-in-chief on Oct 25, 2017