© Florian Bayer

Culture and media

Germany’s culture is complex and diverse, and permeates every part of society. However, little is seen of this rich tapestry outside Germany’s borders – a fact that many interviewees found difficult to fathom. Classical German culture and major tourist attractions like Berlin remain the exception.

Culture is everywhere

Music theatre, literature or just the local museum – the vast majority of foreign observers are very enthusiastic about German culture. In the eyes of others, culture in Germany is affordable, educational, diverse and omnipresent – from the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg to Berlin’s Museum Island and Bad Nauheim.

In Germany culture permeates the whole of society. It is complex and diverse – from opera to street festivals.

Lack of effort to project German culture abroad

When criticism is voiced of German culture, the tenor is that too little is heard of it abroad and too little effort is made to communicate its full spectrum. Often, only classical music and complex philosophy are projected. There is no strategic presentation of the country to foreign audiences, and there are too few German courses and cultural programmes to bring German culture to other countries. Interviewees can see no good reason for this, and they wonder whether Germany is unable or unwilling to do more in this context.

The Goethe-Institut has space for 30 people to learn about German culture. The British and Americans fill stadiums.

The capital – a tourist magnet

Berlin appears to be the number one tourist attraction for those interested in culture from every corner of the globe. For many people, Berlin is the best place to come face to face with German history, while also being the young, innovative centre of the country. According to interviewees, Berlin radiates a very special energy. Most of them equate it with openness, diversity and flexibility. That also reflects a gradual change they feel they can see in German society.

High-quality journalism – with the confidence to state uncomfortable truths

Alongside the country’s culture, Germany’s media are also considered to be of a high quality, with German journalists felt to be some of the world’s most independent. German printed media are particularly appreciated – per se and in comparison with offerings in other countries. What many would like to see, however, is more in-depth international reporting on countries apart from the USA, and more foreign-language reports. Some criticisms were also voiced of the content matter: ‘During the election campaign, all the questions in the television debate were submitted to the candidates in advance,’ complained one Afghan respondent.

I’m impressed by the quality of local newspapers in Germany and their popularity with readers.

The chapters ‘Image and branding – thinking and acting more strategically’ and ‘State and Institutions - a strong foundation’ provide more information on the findings of the study.

Additional information