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Project Overview


The International Theatre Institute (ITI) is the largest performing arts organisation worldwide and was founded in 1948 on the initiative of UNESCO. 


In Article 1 of its Charter, the ITI adopts the mandate “to promote the international exchange of knowledge and practice in the performing arts in order to consolidate peace and friendship between peoples, to deepen mutual understanding, and increase creative cooperation between all people in the performing arts.” 

It advocates for the free development of the performing arts, the protection and promotion of diversity in cultural expressions, and the protection of the rights of artists. 


The ITI supports the development of the performing arts in all fields, national as well as international cooperation between all genres and various organisations, as well as the establishment of national ITI centres in all countries. The ITI supports the documentation of and publication about the performing arts. 

Together with its members, the ITI organises and coordinates international festivals, congresses, workshops and expert meetings, exhibitions and competitions. 

In accordance with the ITI Charter, member centres are guided by the principles of mutual respect for the national traditions of each country. 

The ITI General Secretariat is located in Paris and Shanghai. 

Since 2014, the president of the World Organisation has been Mohammed Saif Al-Afkham (Fujairah, UAE). The World Organisation has had two German theatre makers as presidents, Ivan Nagel (from 1977 to 1979) and Manfred Beilharz (from 2002 to 2008). 

2018 – 70 years of the ITI World Organisation 

After the Second World War, UNESCO initiated the foundation of an autonomous professional international theatre organisation to be the successor organisation to the Societé Universelle du Théâtre of the League of Nations, which was dissolved in 1938. For the founding congress in Prague in 1948, the eight national theatre centres that had already been set up, along with delegates from a total of 20 countries, adopted the charter that set forth the goals of the newly established world-wide network of the International Theatre Institute (ITI). The 70th anniversary of the ITI was celebrated in 2018 with numerous activities worldwide and a meeting of ITI centre delegates in Hainan, China. Renowned theatre artists from five continents reaffirmed in their statements their commitment to the goals of the ITI. Today, more than 90 national centres and associated members belong to the World Organisation.  

The German section of the ITI has existed since 1955 and the German Federal Republic has been a member of the international network since 1957. A merger took place in 1991 with the GDR centre, founded in 1959.