Why we are the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta and not a Goethe-Institut.

Lately, we’ve been getting a few inquiries as to why we’re the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta and not a Goethe-Institut. The answer to this question is a long one, and, if you’re new around these parts, you probably don’t know the answer either, so, we thought we’d explain it to you in a handy little blog post to help you to understand.

Why Goethe-Zentrum

Our History:

To tell this story we’re going to have to give you a little history lesson about the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta, but don’t worry, it won’t be too taxing! Just a brief description of how we came to be in Atlanta!

Back in 1976, we opened our doors as a Goethe-Institut in Atlanta, serving the local community with language courses and cultural events, and promoting a positive image of modern Germany. Then, we were fully funded by the German government, just like all the other Goethe-Instituts around the world.

We spent many a happy year in this position, growing our programs, courses and the amount of people walking through our doors, but, it turns out this wasn’t going to last forever.

Why we changed:

Funding from the German government started to be cut and we weren’t receiving as much cash as we used to. So, in 1995, to be able to carry on providing our programs, some of our supporters and local community members, had the idea to set up a nonprofit (501-c-3) organization called Friends of Goethe. This way, we could raise our own funds to support the work we were doing at the Goethe-Institut and be able to serve our community in the way they were used to. We operated like this for the next 12 years until we had another hurdle to cross.

What happened next:

In 2007, life at the Goethe-Institut Atlanta changed forever. The German government decided to pull all our funding and close their branch in Atlanta. However, our supporters and staff didn’t want to see this happen, by now, the Goethe was an integral part of the Atlanta community. So, they all came together and raise the funds to keep the Goethe open, but, to do this, we had to operate solely as a nonprofit organization. To do this, we had to change our name as, without the funding from the German government, we could not be called a Goethe-Institut, so the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta was born.

What this means:

Being the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta instead of a Goethe-Institut means a lot of different things. Yes, we are still affiliated with the Goethe-Institut and our language courses and exams are Goethe certified. However, we don’t receive the funding that other Goethe-Instituts receive and we have to raise all the money we need to keep our doors open ourselves. Everything we do here at the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta relies on our supporters and sponsors donating to us, whether that is a financial donation or an in-kind donation. Without their continued support, the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta would not exist.

As a nonprofit organization, we also have a mission to live by, if we don’t have a mission and vision, we have no reason to exist. This is what we base all of our programs on:

  • Our vision is to create lasting cultural ties between German-speaking people and the Southeastern United States.
  • Our mission is to foster cultural relationships between German-speaking and American people in order to promote a better understanding of German culture, language and society within the larger context of European life.

We achieve this by working closely with a series of different partners across the Southeast, without their support, and that of our members, students and donors, we would definitely struggle to be here. It’s thanks to them that we can continue to follow our mission and provide a place where both American and people from all over the world can engage in a vibrant intercultural exchange of thoughts and ideas.

So, there you have it, the story of why we are the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta and not a Goethe-Institut. It really all comes down to the way we are funded, and with that in mind, make sure you keep a look out for our mid-year fundraising campaign. Letters and donation cards will be appearing soon, so, if you can spare a little or a lot, please don’t forget about us. Your donation could mean the difference between us being able to provide great programs and keep the lights on!


Posted on July 9, 2015, in Daily News and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This is a great explanation! Thanks for sharing!

  1. Pingback: Giving to Goethe: Mid-Year Campaign | Goethe Does Atlanta

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