“It was important for me to do more to acknowledge the significance that culture and music have for an individual’s development and for society as a whole.”
Liz Mohn, vice-chairwoman of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Executive Board
Mohn has been an active supporter of culture since 1987, when she initiated the NEUE STIMMEN International Singing Competition, later expanding it by adding master classes, workshops and training events. Along the way she also began promoting music education and intercultural dialogue.
Above all, LMFCM focuses on music. In addition to supporting up-and-coming opera singers, it dedicates its resources to music education as a way of promoting understanding among children and young people of different cultural backgrounds. Its projects include the International Opera Studio at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin and the “ideas initiative” Cultural Diversity and Music (Ideeninitiative ‘Kulturelle Vielfalt mit Musik’). LMFCM also wants to use the Children’s Musical Theater (Kindermusiktheater) to support cultural activities on a practical level and to work with young people in Gütersloh, the community where the foundation is based.
Designed to help youngsters transition from child care to primary school, the Children’s Musical Theater illustrates what the foundation’s support looks like in real terms. The project was carried out for the fourth time in 2016/2017, making it possible for some 120 children from six Gütersloh child-care centers and primary schools to experience music and various art forms first-hand. During the project, institutions work in pairs to develop a joint piece of musical theater, guided by experienced theater, music and art teachers.
After initial discussions and workshops, the real project work begins. The focus is on singing, making music together, acting, dancing and designing costumes and sets. In March, the participants take to the main stage of the Gütersloh Theater for the project’s high point: the actual performance.
Musical projects can bridge other gaps – between cultures, for example. Since 2008 LMFCM has therefore been using the annual Cultural Diversity and Music initiative to support the development and implementation of new projects which bring together children and young people of different national heritages. In 2016, the foundation again made €50,000 available to realize the best project ideas.