Interview with Thomas Kloiber – The Keyword for 2019 is “quality”

Thomas Kloiber, together with Elena Olariu and Angelica Iacob, at the opening of the exhibition „Gustav Klimt. Precursor of modernity”

The Bucharest Municipality Museum together with the Austrian Cultural Forum in Bucharest have organized the opening of the exhibition “Gustav Klimt. Precursor of Modernity”, which will remain open all throughout February, at the Suțu Palace (2 I.C. Brătianu Blvd.).

The itinerary exhibition is made of 15 panels with explanatory texts and images and was proposed by the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Although the exhibition doesn’t feature original works, it garnered a lot of attention from the public, as the opening event was attended by 350 people.

In the interview he gave us, the manager of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Bucharest offered more details about the activity of this platform and the support given to Austrian artists and scientists who wish to work in Romania or to cooperate with Romanian partners in common projects.


In January you celebrated a year since you have been at the head of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Bucharest. Which were the main achievements during this period?

T.K.: First of all I have to say that my assignment as a Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum is maybe one of the most interesting and satisfying steps of my professional career. Promoting Austrian culture in Romania, a country which shares a long history and a huge cultural heritage with Austria, is a wonderful, but also responsible task. For that reason I decided to focus very much on the intercultural dialog, which means in particular, that I tried to emphasize joint projects of both Austrian and Romanian artists. As an example I would like to mention the video installation „How we look at things“, which contents video artworks from Bulgaria, Austria and Romania, the former EU-Troika. This installation was the cultural contribution to the opening of Austria’s Presidency of the Council of Europe in the second half of 2018. As another highlight of 2018, I consider the project with the Austrian actress Mercedes Echerer, who performed with her Romanian musician colleagues at Teatrelli/Creart in a show about fairy tales of the river Danube: a very European project, since she included in her performance legends and fairy tales from the source of the river Danube to its delta, in Romania. Besides this performance for adults, Mercedes Echerer performed two shows for the kids of a German speaking school in Bucharest.


How do you intend to develop the activity of the Forum in 2019?

T.K.: When one builds a structure, one of the essential aspects of the process is to take care of the quality of the materials one is using for. This process is even more crucial if the structure we are talking about is a very sensitive one – the cultural cooperation. The Austrian Cultural Forum is a small organization compared to other foreign cultural institutes active here, in Romania. Our budget doesn’t allow us to increase the number of the projects we support. Therefore, our keyword for 2019 is “high-quality”. We will pay a lot of attention to the details that make things great and we will give priority to the projects that are not only visible but which are, first of all, making the difference in terms of innovation and social awareness.

How receptive do you feel Romanians are to the Forum projects which promote the image of Austria as a country focused on innovation and creativity?

T.K.: As far as I could see during my first year at the Austrian Cultural Forum Bucharest, the Romanians and especially the younger generations are passionate about contemporary art and its various expressions, new technologies, innovation in the scientific fields. Creativity is highly valuable for them and they are very demanding when it comes to the added value that a project is supposed to have. Therefore, our events focused on new or unknown/less known cultural aspects (related to actual or passed discoveries, inventions or advances in various cultural and scientific domains) are very popular. We noticed this trend on our social media pages too. Our most read and shared posts are those highlighting the ideas of the Austrian people that are changing our daily life and the way we conceive culture, arts, science and so on.

We’ve noticed that the Forum appreciates the interaction not only with the civil society in Romania, but also with the public institutions of the country. In this regard, what do you think of your current collaboration with the Bucharest Municipality Museum and how can it develop in the future?

T.K.:  We are very glad that the beginning of 2019 brought the Bucharest Municipality Museum among the major partners of the Austrian Cultural Forum. Within the last years, the very creative work of Mr. Adrian Majuru and his team amplified radically the reputation of this institution. It would sound like a cliché, but the Bucharest Municipality Museum is truly a landmark of the local cultural landscape, with its numerous satellite museums throughout Romania’s main city. The museum hosts our current travelling exhibition “Gustav Klimt. Precursor of modernity” (designed by the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the occasion of the centennial of the artist’s death) and, for the opening, we could witness the Romanians’ interest for Klimt’s work, but also the public impact of this museum. Approximately 350 people attended the opening of this documentary exhibition, a number that speaks for itself.

Both Romania and Austria emphasize the value of traditions. At the same time, both countries wish to promote elements of novelty and innovation. Relating to this, in what areas do you think the representatives of our countries have managed to collaborate best? How do you see this collaboration evolving? Where and how could it develop?

T.K.: Romania’s and Austria’s collaboration in the field of culture and science is based on a bilateral agreement and it is implemented by a working program, which this year is due to be renewed. From my point of view many goals of the former working program have been achieved, like the installation of lecturers of the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research OEAD. Just recently we were able to establish a new OEAD-lectureship at Ovidius University in Constanta.  I am noticing a quite active exchange of summer school programs and academic exchanges. In the field of education I may mention the very effective initiatives of implementing dual education by Austrian Centre for Education and Professional Training CONCORDIA. In the field of culture I am also convinced that the huge number of exchange projects meet the goals of mentioned working program. But with no doubt the common goal must be to strengthen our efforts in order to deepen this cultural and scientific collaboration!

Regarding the mission of the Austrian Cultural Forum Bucharest as a supplier of services in Romania for cultural and scientific projects from Austria, which are your objectives?

T.K.: The Austrian Cultural Forum Bucharest is the cultural section of the Austrian Embassy in Romania and its action is placed under the administrative supervision of the Austrian Ministry of Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs. It is important to underline that our team is covering the cultural and scientific cooperation between Austria and the Republic of Moldavia as well. Besides these formal aspects, the ACF consider the culture in the entirety of this concept. It does not limit itself just to what we usually qualify as “cultural projects”. We are the link that strengthens the relationship between Austrian and Romanian cultural operators, but we also support attempts of the Romanian civil society in the field of social inclusion and intercultural dialogue. An approach that we develop in an even wider, European context, as the Austrian Cultural Forum is a member of the EUNIC Romania, the local network of the European Union National Institutes for Culture. Being a part of this highly active group, where all its components are complementing one another, helps us to increase even more the effectiveness of our action and to focus better on our specific actions.

An interview by Simona Popescu


The Austrian Cultural Forum Bucharest: Promoting Austrian Art and Culture in Romania

With more than 130 cultural events per year, the Austrian Cultural Forum (ACF) acts as a platform for Austrian artists and scientists who intend to perform in Romania or to cooperate with Romanian partners in joint projects. A huge number of musicians, visual artists, actors, writers and artists of all disciplines approach the Austrian Cultural Forum in order to realize a cultural project in Romania. The Austrian Cultural Forum either connects Austrian artists with local festivals and art managers or directly supports them in carrying out their project.

Especially during the period of the back-to-back EU-Council Presidencies of Austria and Romania, the Austrian Cultural Forum Bucharest is fostering intercultural projects in which artists of both countries take part and interact on an artistic level.

You can follow the activities of the Austrian Cultural Forum by visiting our website or by visiting us on Facebook . You can also subscribe to the periodical newsletter by emailing us at