Page Overview: BMW Group - Responsibility - Commitment - Culture



Cultural engagement at the BMW Group.

Key Visual Kultur Mobile



Culture is knowledge, a haven of beauty and depth. Meaning and tranquility far from the maddening crowd. A solitary experience of empathy, especially during these trying times. As a corporate citizen, the BMW Group has been involved in hundreds of cultural initiatives worldwide for almost 50 years. Since 2003, “CultureMobile", an employee initiative, has drawn tens of thousands of colleagues' attention to the company's cultural programs and has invited them to participate. Due to the current situation, where many colleagues work from home, we now present "CultureMobile: The Literature Podcast". An offer to all employees worldwide, to enjoy outside their working hours. As well as for everyone who follows our company on social media. Tune in and enjoy!

The BMW Group participates in the Gallery Weekend Berlin.

Social commitment is a major concern of the BMW Group. There is no doubt that cultural engagement is part of the BMW Group.

Maximilian Schöberl

BMW Group, Senior Vice President Corporate and Intergovernmental Affairs

With over 100 projects worldwide, BMW Group cultural commitment has been an essential part of corporate communications for over 40 years now. Unrestricted freedom of creative potential is of the utmost importance, as it is equally as crucial for the field of art as it is for ground-breaking innovations within a successful business enterprise. The BMW Group places the main focus of its cultural commitment on modern and contemporary art, jazz and classical music as well as architecture and design.

Cultural management as part of the BMW Group.

BMW Group cultural engagement.

“You”, the brochure about international cultural engagement at the BMW Group.

Classic music and jazz.

The BMW Group is aware of its social responsibility in the field of culture and is involved at international level in the sustainable and long-term support of projects in all areas of artistic expression. 

One of the first public-private partnerships in Germany was established back in 1979 – the “Spielmotor München e.V”, which later incorporated the Spielart drama festival into its programme. The award-winning project “Oper für alle” (Opera for all) was launched in 1997 in close cooperation with the Bavarian State Opera House. In 2007, the format was also launched in Berlin under the name “Staatsoper für alle” in joint collaboration with the State Opera House Unter den Linden. In 2012, the format was also launched in London in collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra under the name BMW LSO OPEN AIR CLASSICS. In addition to this commitment, BMW fosters a cordial co-operation with the Munich Chamber Orchestra at the “Nachtmusik der Moderne” and is Principal Partner of the Elbphilharmonie.
In the jazz field, festivals are supported in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Brazil and China. The BMW in-house initiatives Dixie Drivers, the BMW male-voice choir and the BMW Chamber Orchestra have demonstrated our employees’ musical involvement for many decades.

Aerial view of “Opera for All”, sponsored by the BMW Group.

Opera for all.

The “Opera for all” format takes classical music and musical theatre out of the concert hall and into the streets.  The BMW Group collaborates with opera houses and orchestras to overcome reservations towards high culture. The format is based in Munich, where “Oper für alle” is hosted jointly by the Bavarian State Opera House, the BMW Munich dealership and the BMW Group in Munich. Since 1997, the BMW Group has provided access to opera and festival concerts during the exclusive opera festival. Opera performances are broadcast directly via a 56 m² video screen at the Max-Joseph-Platz in front of the Nationaltheater. With this commitment, the Bavarian State Opera House and BMW set cultural benchmarks. 

The format has also been successfully established in two other cities besides Munich: “Staatsoper für alle” has been held on the Berlin Bebelplatz in conjunction with the State Opera House Unter den Linden. In 2012, the format expanded to its first international location, with a free concert on London’s Trafalgar Square in collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra under the name BMW LSO OPEN AIR CLASSICS.  

Even Placido Domingo was enthusiastic: “Oper für alle reaches an audience that would never have dreamed of going to the opera. A fantastic event for the audience and a strong affirmation of the social significance of what we are doing.” 

The German tenor Jonas Kaufmann is also excited: “The ‘Opera for all’ format is truly one-of-a-kind: For me as an artist, sharing a unique evening at the opera with the largest possible audience out in the open in such an atmospheric setting is a special experience every time.”

Tens of thousands of people gather to experience these open-air events every year.  Spontaneity is the key: There is no need to buy tickets as the event is free of charge and the square open to everyone.

Close-up of two violinists in an orchestra.

Orchestra and opera cooperations.

Our involvement with orchestras and opera houses extends from Moscow to South Korea, with support for the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia, the Teatro Alla Scala (Italy), the Orchestre de Paris (France), the Guangzhou Opera (China), the Bozar Brussels (Belgium), the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Orchestra (Japan) and the Sugi Opera in South Korea. In Munich, BMW partners with the Bavarian State Opera and the Munich Philharmonic on the educational programme “Spielfeld Klassik” and with the Munich Chamber Orchestra on the format “Nachtmusik der Moderne”. Furthermore, the company is Principal Partner of the Elbphilharmonie which is to have its celebratory opening in 2017. Since February 2016, BMW also supports the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. 

Details on orchestra and opera cooperation can be found in the BMW Group’s cultural engagement brochure.
Snapshot of a performance at the BMW Jazz Festival.

Jazz projects and music festivals.

In the field of jazz, BMW is involved in many different areas worldwide. The BMW Jazz Club Poland, for example, has been supported by BMW Poland since 2006. In 2009, BMW successfully established an annual international competition, the BMW Welt Jazz Award.  With a different motto each year, the prize is awarded by a distinguished panel of expert judges from the world of jazz. In a total of six Sunday matinees, the competing ensembles demonstrate their musical talent in front of the audience and judges. The nominated finalists then compete for the award in a final concert held in the Grand Auditorium at BMW Welt. The audience is also invited to participate by choosing their favourite ensemble as winner of the audience award. The BMW Welt Jazz Award is endowed with € 15,000: with € 10,000 and € 5,000 for first and second prize respectively. The winner also receives a trophy designed especially for the competition by BMW Design.

BMW also supports Jazzclub Regensburg, the Leipzig Jazz Days, the International Music Festival Český Krumlov (Czech Republic), the Jazz & Classic Festival (Moldova), the Brazil Jazz Festival, the JZ Shanghai Music Festival in China, the Festival de Mexico, the Sonoro International Chamber Festival (Romania), the  Steyr Music Festival (Austria), the Henley Festival (United Kingdom) and the Spoleto Festival (USA).

More information on jazz projects and music festivals can be found in the BMW Group’s cultural engagement brochure.
Exhibits from the BMW Art Car Collection.

BMW Art Car Collection.

Since 1975, prominent artists from around the world have designed BMW automobiles to represent their times, all making extremely different artistic statements. The 17 exhibits created for the Art Car Collection until now include works by well-known artists such as Alexander Calder, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, A.R. Penck, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer and Olafur Eliasson. BMW Art Cars reflect the cultural and historical development of art, design, and technology and attract interest at numerous museums and galleries throughout the world, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, the Contemporary Art Centre in Warsaw and the Guggenheim Museum New York, to name just a few. 

It was originally French racing driver Hervé Poulain who had the idea of allowing an artist free rein with an automobile. Poulain commissioned American artist Alexander Calder to paint his BMW racing car in the early 70's. This was the initial spark which led BMW to establish the Art Car Collection. In the early years of the project, it was mainly racing cars that were transformed into artistic objects – some even started in the famous 24-hour Le Mans race. Later, the Art Car Collection was extended to include series-produced vehicles. 

The first comprehensive publication on BMW Art Cars published by Hatje Cantz in early 2014 traces the development of these “rolling sculptures” since 1975.

Close-up of the BMW Art Guide.

BMW Art Guide.

The third, extended edition of the “BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors” provides an international overview of 236 publicly accessible private collections. Concise portraits of each collection, replete with colour illustrations, take the reader to 39 different countries and through areas sometimes quite off the beaten path. In addition to collections previously inaccessible to the general public, the extended edition now also includes sculpture parks and artists’ quarters in individual cities.

Collectors, gallerists, artists, and journalists assisted with the extensive research for this new standard work, released in English and German language by the art-book publisher Hatje Cantz. There is no comparable list of international private collections – some of which are opening their doors to art lovers and connoisseurs for the first time – online or in book form. 

The BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors is the first joint publication by BMW and Independent Collectors, a partnership that began in 2009.

Photographer stands on a rocky shore and looks out over the sea.

BMW Art Journey.

The BMW Art Journey is a new global art initiative launched by BMW and Art Basel in 2015 to promote young international artists. Like a mobile studio, the BMW Art Journey award enables selected artists to take a journey of creative discovery to a destination of their choosing – to conduct research, make contacts and create new works. 

All artists showing in Art Basel's new sectors “Positions” and “Discoveries” in Miami Beach and Hong Kong are eligible to apply for the BMW Art Journey, which will be awarded twice a year to one artist at each location. Two international expert juries, one for Hong Kong and one for Miami Beach, will select a shortlist of three artists per sector and invite them to submit proposals for a journey. One of them will get the chance to undertake the BMW Art Journey. The artist selected from the “Discoveries” sector of Art Basel's show in Hong Kong, held in March 2015, is Sampson Young. The artist selected from the “Positions” sector of Art Basel in Miami Beach will be announced in early 2016.

The jury members for the BMW Art Journey include Richard Armstrong (Director, Guggenheim Museum, New York), Juan Gaítan (curator based in Mexico City), Massimiliano Gioni (Artistic Director, New Museum, New York City), Gabriele Horn (Director, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin), Claire Hsu (Director, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong), Matthias Mühling (Director, Lenbachhaus, Munich), Victoria Noorthoorn (Director, Museu de Arte Moderna, Buenos Aires) and Bisi Silva (Artistic Director, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos). 

The journeys can be followed in real-time through digital and social media and publications.

PARTNER: Art Basel 

Art Basel hosts the world's premier art shows for modern and contemporary works in Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong. Defined by its host city and region, each show is unique, which is reflected in the participating galleries, artworks presented and the content of parallel programming produced in collaboration with local institutions.  In addition to ambitious stands featuring leading galleries from around the world, each show's singular exhibition sectors spotlight the latest developments in the visual arts, offering visitors new ideas, new inspiration and new contacts in the art world.

Dance performance in the Tate.

BMW Tate Live.

BMW Tate Live is a long-term partnership between BMW and Tate geared towards innovative performances, interdisciplinary art and curation of the digital space. The jointly developed format explores the diverse ways in which artists approach the topic of live performance in the 21st century.  The programme offers live internet broadcasts, performances in museum galleries, seminars and workshops.  BMW Tate Live aims to reach an international audience through new forms of art, addressing audiences’ changing needs, tastes and interests in art. The event series creates a new space for collaboration and a programme that encompasses performance, film, sound, installations and new ways of learning – areas where artists can take greater risks and experiment freely.

Visitors to an art fair.

Art fairs and biennales.

BMW maintains long-term and sustainable partnerships with the most important and prestigious art fairs around the world. In doing so BMW is by no means interested in mere logo placement. We provide VIP shuttle service and, together with our partners, develop new formats that promote exchange of ideas and thoughts between art fairs and their visitors. BMW supports Art Basel in Switzerland, Miami Beach and Hong Kong, the Frieze Art Fair  in London and Frieze Masters, the Frieze New York, Paris Photo – and its American derivative Paris Photo LA, the TEFAF in the Netherlands, the Gallery Weekend Berlin, the KIAF – Korea International Art Fair in Seoul, the Berlin Biennale and the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India. MINI is also involved with the abc – art berlin contemporary.

Presentation of the National Gallery Prize.

Preis der Nationalgalerie.

The Preis der Nationalgalerie is facilitated by the Association of Friends of the National Gallery. Made possible by civic commitment, it has established itself in recent years as the most significant national award for contemporary art. In addition, a public’s choice award has also been presented since 2005.

Since 2011, the National Gallery has also presented an award for young film artists, in collaboration with the German Film Academy. Presented every two years at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Berlin's museum for contemporary art – the award focuses
on young, significant artists of our time. Each of the two winners receives a carefully designed solo show in one of the houses of the National Gallery, including a special catalogue. International artists currently working in Germany below the age of 40 are eligible. 

“The Preis der Nationalgalerie has established itself in recent years as the most significant national award for contemporary art. Even the list of artists who were nominated but did not receive the prize reads like a “who’s who” of the international art scene. We are delighted to have accompanied this development as a long-standing partner,” commented Maximilian Schöberl, Senior Vice President Corporate and Intergovernmental Affairs, BMW Group.

Architecture and design.

BMW Group and architecture.
With the construction of  the “Four Cylinder” BMW Group headquarters, designed by Karl Schwanzer in 1973, the company placed a deliberate emphasis on innovative, dynamic design, which was to continue later with the emergence of trend-setting buildings by Zaha Hadid in Leipzig (2005) and BMW Welt in Munich by Coop Himmelb(l)au (2007). The BMW Group’s first cultural activities also date from the period when the “Four Cylinder” was being built and the company was enjoying growing international success. The BMW Museum, also designed by Schwanzer (built in 1973) was expanded in 2008. Schwanzer had defined the interior structure of this rotunda as a continuation of the road within an enclosed space. The idea of a “road within an enclosed space as the principle of dynamic architecture” was modernised with further refinement and reinterpretation in the adjacent flat-roofed building.  In 1986, the Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ) became one of the automobile industry’s most cutting-edge design centres. Construction was completed when the extension known as the “project house” was added in 2004 by Henn Architekten of Munich. Over the long term, the FIZ will be expanded as part of the “FIZ Future” project. In close cooperation with the city and local citizens, research and development capacities will be expanded by about 500,000 m2 for a gross floor area of 800,000 m2 over the long term.
The company is also raising the architectural bar at its other locations and enforcing high standards of presentation. Both the head office and Rolls-Royce plant in Goodwood were built by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw.

BMW Group and design.
BMW can look back on nearly one hundred years of design by people, for people. The common goal is an optimised, coherent vehicle design process. In 2006, the independent BMW Group subsidiary, Designworks USA, opened its third globally operating design studio.  Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design since March 2009, and his team, are working to implement a design philosophy for fascinating products with strong emotional appeal. Perfection and innovation in technology and design are the hallmark of all BMW Group products.

Culture at the BMW Group.

A steady flow of information about cultural activities within the company allows employees to choose from a wide range of recreational options. Since 2013, the Sport- und Kultur-Förderverein BMW Group e.V., a sports and culture booster club, has also encouraged BMW Group employees and their families and friends to get involved in cultural activities. Long-standing formats include:

The Kulturmobile is an intranet platform updated quarterly that informs employees in Munich about current BMW Group cultural activities. In addition to this event calendar, special events are also organised in conjunction with partner institutions. As part of a unique corporate initiative, international authors also present their favourite books in the "LiteraturTipp" section.

Gallery 71.
Gallery 71 was established in 1989 at BMW Plant Munich as an art and cultural forum for BMW employees to present their artistic works to their peers. Over 50 artists have presented their works to date.  Works of art created by employees can be admired and purchased at private viewings and during the three-month long exhibitions. 

Dixi Drivers.
The Dixi Drivers were founded in December 1983 as a BMW company band by clarinettist Werner Grün. The band plays straightforward Dixieland that appeals to everyone. 

BMW male voice choir.
Founded in 1979, this formally-trained ensemble has proved extremely popular. The choir is well-known and well-liked, both locally and farther afield. Concert tours to affiliated choirs have brought popularity to the BMW male voice choir even outside of Germany.