Let's Remain Friends | Goethe-Institut UK

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Statement of the Goethe-Institut UK on Brexit
Let’s remain friends

People at a demonstration, two of them are wrapped in European flags
© Pierre Alozie 2020

Culture has no borders, this is what we believe at the Goethe-Institut. Yet Brexit could have consequences for the the British cultural sector and education system. We would like to share our official statement on Brexit with you and hear your thoughts!

Britain's exit from the EU is now reality. For the Goethe-Institut, which sees itself as a European institution, this was always going to be painful. Cultural and educational policies are of great importance in these times. We have worked extensively with our British and European partners to deal with possible repercussions for the cultural and educational sectors and have held a number of talks.

Since the Brexit referendum, cooperation requests from our partners have increased significantly. This mirrors the experience of other European cultural organisations and EUNIC, the network of 31 European cultural institutes in London, of which the Goethe-Institut is an integral member. We will continue to work in close collaboration with EUNIC and to nurture our European bonds within the UK.

In 2020 we are planning a number of projects which will focus on Europe:

  • In view of the forthcoming German Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2020, there will be a number of events taking place in the UK. These will provide a platform for the sharing of contemporary eye witness accounts of developments in Europe, as well as raising awareness of well-known European writer and thinkers in a Europe-wide competition.  
  • One of our latest residencies (Re)-Collecting Europe gives emerging journalists from Europe the chance to travel in the UK and interview local people. Against the backdrop of the UK’s departure from the EU the journalists-in-residence examine the social and cultural impact Brexit will have on the civil society in the UK.
  • An annual democracy forum is going to bring young people from the UK and Germany together. The forum will explore how future generations will shape issues such as democracy, digitalisation, and equality.
  • The interest from young British adults involved in our youth mobility projects has increased immensely. The charity Friends of the Goethe-Institut London is supporting two programmes which facilitate young people to travel to Germany to engage in a variety of work experience and cultural programmes. Both projects are continuing in 2020.
  • Our network of partner schools in the UK is also growing: in 2020 two schools in the UK will join the PASCH (“Schools: Partners for the Future”) network, taking our number of partner schools in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland to eleven. PASCH forms a worldwide network of schools with a special focus on Germany and the German culture.
We are offering a variety of additional cultural events and projects dealing with the topic of Europe in 2020. You will be able to find more details in our newsletter or on our website.

Europe does not only concern us as a topic in the light of the UK’s departure from Europe on the 31st of January 2020. In recent years we have held events in regions of the UK which voted Leave.

With these initiatives, we want to convince the people of Europe and show them:

The EU is not a faceless machine. It is the representation of 508 million people. Living and working together in peace ... We are the European family.

These slogans were devised by German artist Wolfgang Tillmans for the anti-Brexit campaign "Protect the European Union". Today they are more relevant than ever.

The Goethe-Institut sees itself as an institution with a European mandate:

  • We subscribe to the vision of an integrated Europe.
  • We advocate an open, tolerant and democratic community.
  • We actively champion a shared and diverse cultural space.
  • We are wholeheartedly committed to the values of openness, freedom of movement, justice and the embrace of diversity in our society.
The United Kingdom is a part of Europe. A glance at any world map will clearly demonstrate that. This will not change in the future, regardless of any treaty the country might sign with the EU.

We would love to hear from you! Discuss Europe with us in the comments or on social media using the hashtag #SharedEurope! Let’s remain friends – we welcome everyone at our events, German classes, in our library or online.

Your Goethe-Institut UK
31st January 2020