Let’s talk:
Cultural Identity and Economic Opportunities

An innovative division of Deutsche Bank works across business units, enabling both clients and the general public to have new experiences. A talk with Josephine Ackerman, Friedhelm Hütte, Franziska Kunz, Michael Münch, and Thorsten Strauss about synergies between art, culture, and sports.
ArtMag: Mr. Strauss, why is Deutsche Bank involved in art, culture, and sports in times like these? Isn’t that pure luxury?

Thorsten Strauss: No, on the contrary. During challenging economic, political, and social times it becomes apparent whether a social commitment is only “nice to have” or an indispensable part of a company’s selfimage. The bank’s Supervisory and Management Board sent a clear signal and created the independent “Art, Culture & Sports” division in which all of the corresponding activities are bundled. We can now continue proven projects in a more focused and efficient way and develop new concepts. With these activities we have a positive—sustainable and credible—image in the public eye and are strengthening the cultural diversity of our global company.

A Global Platform for Art, Culture and Sports
In April 2016, a new division began working under the leadership of Thorsten Strauss. The independent ACS business unit, which brings together Deutsche Bank’s art, culture, and sports activities, bundles existing knowhow to offer tailor-made programs to clients and employees as well as a broad public.

ArtMag: Attractive programs for the public and for employees— that is understandable—but what advantages does this have for your clients?

Josephine Ackerman: In the future, we want to move closer to our clients—not only to offer them a diverse offer in the areas of art, culture, and sports from one source, but also to make our knowhow and our international networks available to them.

ArtMag: Can you give us some concrete examples?

Josephine Ackerman: For our events during CHIO in Aachen, the big international riding tournament, we recently thrilled more than 1,700 clients, and with our ArtCard clients can benefit directly from our many partnerships with museums around the world.

ArtMag: Many banks and insurance companies have their own art collections. What distinguishes your house from other companies?

Franziska Kunz: Deutsche Bank has been involved in art for more than thirty years. During this time, we have built up one of the world’s most important corporate collections. A close connection to the bank was part of the concept from the very outset. Our artworks enrich the company’s working world in myriad ways. The bank intentionally creates a situation in which employees and clients can engage with art directly at their locations. Nor does the collection have to fear comparison economically. The value of many positions has increased markedly in the last decades. Promoting new talent is often worthwhile financially as well.

Friedhelm Hütte: We then offer this talent a platform at our KunstHalle in Berlin, which is used to showcase our art program. We also cooperate with museums such as Tate Modern in London and the Jewish Museum in New York. In 2004, we recognized the potential of the then still young Frieze Art Fair in London, and have sponsored it since its second year. Today Frieze is much more than just a fair. During Frieze Week, London museums and galleries show their best exhibitions, attracting a broad public. At the same time, in this environment we reach out to clients and potential clients who are enthusiastic about art and collect it.

ArtMag: The second letter in your new division stands for culture. What can we expect in this area in the future?

Michael Münch: We have partnered with the Berliner Philharmoniker for more than twenty-five years now and have created many unforgettable concert experiences for our clients, whether in Berlin, Tokyo, or New York. This unique cooperation continues to develop. Starting this summer and continuing every other year in the future, bank and orchestra are inviting people to an open-air event in Berlin. As a result, we are broadening the base of art and culture. We are providing access to cultural experiences and opening up all kinds of possibilities for participation: with the Berliner Philharmoniker as well as with the Metropolitan Opera, the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, and many other cultural projects that we support.

ArtMag: What plans do you have for the area of sports?

Thorsten Strauss: We are positioned well here too—in terms of quantity and quality. Since 2011, via the German Sports Aid Foundation we have helped talented young and top athletes reconcile competitive sports better with their professional careers. We also promote young talent with the Deutsche Bank Equestrian Sports Academy. Since 1955, we have been the main sponsor of CHIO Aachen, which, by the way, is the bank’s oldest sports commitment. In the future, we intend to harness these and new sports projects to a greater extent and more internationally in order to make them an unforgettable experience for our clients and employees.

ArtMag: Mr. Strauss, where will the department be in five years? What are the goals?

Thorsten Strauss: We want to move forward in all three fields, with a program that benefits the general public, the company, and our employees. Our top priority remains reaching a broad social spectrum and living up to our corporate responsibility. In addition, we want to make our clients and partners tailor-made offers from all three areas, put together by our experts. These joint experiences can convey a sense of belonging and cultural identity and open up economic possibilities for the bank. We are certain about this as a team and are providing the best possible platform to achieve these goals.