The large assembly room in the Haus der Stiftungen in NRW in the Derendorf region of Düsseldorfer Stadtteil is now named after Johannes Rau. In a dedication ceremony on 7th March Christina Kampmann as Minister for the Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Dr. Fritz Behrens as President of Kunststiftung NRW and Harry K. Voigtsberger as President of the NRW-Stiftung recalled the visionary cultural policy of this tenacious advocate of a politics based on the concept of solidarity and the desire for reconciliation in the presence of Christina Rau and numerous guests from the fields of politics, economics and culture.
Pictured (from left to right): President of the NRW-Stiftung, Harry K. Voigtsberger, Minister Christina Kampmann, Dr. Ursula Sinnreich, General Secretary of Kunststiftung NRW, Christina Rau, President of the Kunststiftung Dr. Fritz Behrens, President of the State Parliament Carina Gödecke and Managing Director of the NRW-Stiftung, Martina Grote | Photo: Melanie Stegemann
“Naming this assembly hall after Johannes Rau makes emphasises once more the enduring legacy he has left behind him in North Rhine-Westphalia,” said Christina Kampmann in her laudation in the newly restored hall of the listed building which was once a casino for officers. “No-one else in politics had such a strong influence on our region over such a long time as he did. His legacy lives on.” This also applies to the Kunststiftung.
The President of Kunststiftung NRW, Dr. Fritz Behrens, referred to the political vision which underpinned the foundation of Kunststiftung NRW along with the NRW-Stiftung and other foundations – such as the Künstlerdorf Schöppingen for example. “Strengthening solidarity and bolstering identity through art and culture” as Johannes Rau’s declared objective in founding these funding bodies in the 1980s which he would continue to support as a committee member for many years. This objective could not be more relevant at a time when many new people are making their way to North Rhine-Westphalia.
To encourage artists to take new paths, to promote artistic achievement of the highest quality and stimulate creative daring, to make the results understood and to place it in the centre of society – these duties of Kunststiftung NRW along with the NRW-Stiftung’s work for nature and the environment provide an essential, fruitful and stable basis for communal life influenced by liberality and tolerance.
Johannes Rau was born in Wuppertal in 1931. He was Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia from 1978 to 1998. His motto for his time in government was “reconciliation rather than division.” He was elected Federal President of Germany in1999 and served in this office until 2004. Johannes Rau dies in Berlin on 27th January 2006.
In 1986 Johannes Rau initiated the foundation of the NRW-Stiftung for the Preservation of Nature, the Environment and Culture. This was followed in 1989 by the foundation of the State of NRW’s Foundation of Arts and Culture – now known as Kunststiftung NRW. In the same year Künstlerdorf Schöppingen and the NRW State Music Academy in Heek were also launched as charitable foundations.