"How to Make Friends…"
Heydebreck on Social Commitment to Culture and Corporate Citizenship
On January 20 2006, representatives from the worlds of culture, finance,
and society met in the House of German Business in Berlin to discuss new
ideas and strategies to fortify cultural commitment in membership and
sponsoring groups. "How to
Make Friends…" was the name of the symposium held by the
Cultural Circle of German Business and Industry together with the Forum
Future Berlin. The opening speech was held by Tessen von Heydebreck,
member of the board responsible for art and cultural sponsorship at
Deutsche Bank. We are documenting excerpts of his speech here.
and sponsoring groups are an excellent example for a well-functioning
citizens’ society. They provide an avenue for citizens to become involved
out of a sense of joy or responsibility for a cultural institution or a
certain cultural sector. The catchphrase "Citizens’ Commitment" was
popular well before the "Year of the Honorary Position" in 2001 and the
investigative commission held in this context. Particularly in the face of
dwindling state support for the social and cultural fields, it sometimes
comes across as a magic word.
von Heidebreck during his speech, Photo: Sophie Bertone / Kulturkreis der
In Germany, we have,
even by international comparison, an unusually rich and multi-faceted
cultural landscape. Such a dense web of city and state theaters, museums,
libraries, art galleries, and more would be inconceivable without this
type of honorary support. It is of supreme importance to motivate,
strengthen, and establish private commitment in the cultural sector in
order to maintain this cultural diversity.
It’s not a matter of
releasing the state from its responsibility to further art and culture.
The discussion over juridically anchoring culture as a state goal has
shown how important it is to establish this theme in society. Cultural
diversity is an important factor not only for a region’s social welfare,
but also for its economic well-being. And precisely in the context of the
rising pluralization and individualization of our society, art and
culture’s identity-generating potential takes on a heightened importance.
even beyond these overarching questions, it enriches cultural life when
people become interested or enthusiastic enough to chip in for "their"
state theater or museum in their free time. Deutsche Bank is also a
citizen of this country – and as a corporate citizen, we carry an
additional social responsibility. For decades now, Deutsche Bank has
demonstrated a high degree of social commitment both in Germany and on the
international level, ranging from grants and sponsorship and the projects
its foundations undertake to the personal commitment of its staff.
exhibition 25 Years Deutsche Bank Collection at Deutsche Guggenheim (c)
Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin Photo: Mathias Schormann
experience and our understanding of ourselves tell us that supporting art
and culture is not a random state of aesthetic rapture, but essential to
corporate culture, including our own. Thus, for instance, the Deutsche
Bank Art Collection, with over 50,000 works the largest corporate
collection worldwide, has been continuously expanding since 1979 under the
motto "Art at the Workplace." Again and again, we see that encountering
art on the job becomes an enriching experience for numerous staff members
and clients, while the presentation of contemporary and even difficult art
in the unusual environment of a bank inspires people to engage in fertile
For a long time now, there’s been a growing awareness
in the business world for the significance of the so-called "soft skills."
Today, our information society depends on developing and utilizing
people’s creative potential. It becomes increasingly clear that one-track
thinking cannot do justice to our highly complex world.
Tessen von Heydebreck and Prof. Irina
Antonowa, Director of the Pushkin Museum, at the opening of "Aus deutscher
Sicht", an exhibition of works of the Deutsche Bank Collection
is why we encourage our staff to get involved in projects that expand and
enrich their own personal horizons. There’s a whole range of programs, for
instance, in which bank staff can become involved as mentors for school
children with difficult educational prospects.
In addition, with
plus", the bank has created an instrument to support and
recognize individual honorary involvement among its staff – and that on a
worldwide basis. Whenever a bank staff member chips in for an institution
or an initiative on his or her own free time, the bank donates 500 Euros
to the institution. In this way, countless cultural initiatives and
membership groups have become supported by Deutsche Bank.
at "Das MoMA in Berlin" in front of
" by Henri Matisse, Photo: Jens Liebchen
further expression of our social commitment is the Deutsche
Bank Foundation with its main areas of concentration in education,
social concerns, music, and art. Among the foundation’s and bank’s
numerous multi-faceted sponsoring activities are the support of membership
and sponsoring groups.
of the Friends of the National Gallery made one particularly prominent
exhibition project possible in 2004: The
MoMA in Berlin attracted 1.2 million visitors to the National
Gallery. Deutsche Bank was the main sponsor of this spectacular show,
whose effect on the public far exceeded all expectations. As sponsors, we
learned how satisfying cooperation with the simple and unbureaucratic
structures of membership groups can be.
LeWitt Project I (ABCD), in the background
line of visitors in front of the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin
example of our commitment has been the foundation’s support of the Faust
membership group. This group was founded to enable Peter
Stein to direct both parts of Faust in the context of the EXPO
2000 in Hanover. The Deutsche Bank Foundation supported the project
together with the Capital Cultural Fund, the city of Vienna, the EXPO
2000, and additional private sponsors.
The Faust group offers its
members several attractions, including visits to rehearsals,
behind-the-scenes talks with Peter Stein, the possibility to order tickets
prior to the official ticket sales, as well as several members’ meetings
accompanying the project. One special feature of this membership group,
however, was that it was directly linked to the Faust project,
hence conceived as temporary from the very beginning.
It has been
our experience that this temporal limitation made it easier for some to
commit themselves to the Faust membership group. Indeed, the
tendency today is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to win over
long-term commitment to a membership group. The question arises as to how
this commitment can still be achieved in the future, or, to return to the
question posed in the event’s title: how do you keep the friends you’ve