The event was held at the ZDF Zollernhof and keynote speaker Peter Altmaier, Chief of the Federal Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Affairs, was impressed by the diversity of commitment of the nominees: “This year demonstrates particularly clearly how dedicated and committed citizens strengthen the feeling of solidarity in our country. They help through their social commitment and therefore bring people from different cultures together, for example by accepting, supporting and integrating refugees. Honouring this commitment is an important task.”
The initiative was launched in 2003 under the patronage of the President of the German Bundestag, Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert. The German Citizen Award has five different categories. “U21” acknolwedges dedicated individuals under the age of 21, while “Everyday Heroes” is aimed at exemplary individuals and projects. The “Lifetime Achievement” category honours a minimum of 25 years dedicated civic commitment. A fifth category includes the the widely acclaimed “Audience Award”.
Last Wednesday, BRAIN founder Dr. Holger Zinke was awarded 2nd place in the “Committed Business” category. The 1st place prize was awarded to the Bavarian businessman and musician Erik Berthold, who organises music projects and workshops for children from immigrant backgrounds as well as those with and without disabilities, and thereby integrates people through music. Of the 2,300 projects submitted, only two were nominated for the award.
The jury praised BRAIN as an exemplary candidate in demonstrating cultural commitment: “Promotion of young artists: Along with his employees, the founder of BRAIN AG, Dr. Holger Zinke, supports young artists. He works with them, displays their work within the company premises, and even offers guided tours. As well as the artists, employees also benefit because this engagement creates an identity and gets everybody involved. BRAIN integrates art and culture excellently in its daily business operations. On top of that, the public also profits from this.”
Dr. Zinke was delighted with the award: “We take 2nd prize today with pride and on behalf of more than 120 BRAIN employees, whose wide range of interests and longtime cultural commitments have made this award possible for BRAIN. Engaging with cultural projects outside of our scientific bubble is part of the very DNA of our company. The award is an incentive for us to work even more closely with creative people on unusual projects, and to showcase these together. We offer our sincere congratulations to our Bavarian business colleague Erik Berthold, who has made an outstanding contribution to the integration of young people from different backgrounds. A better example of voluntary commitment is hard to imagine. He truly deserves 1st place in the “Committed Business” category! Our respect and recognition to him and his team.”
Every day, 23 million people engage in voluntary work in Germany. In order to recognise and thank them for their charitable contribution, the German Citizen Award was launched by the “für mich. für uns. für alle.” initiative in 2003.
The main theme of 2015, “integrated and involved culture” encourages creativity and acts as a catalyst for mutual exchange. Whether it’s music, museum, theatre, online culture, literature or architecture, if it’s a dance group or a film club: culture connects us and brings people together. Voluntary commitment in this area is particularly prominent in Germany and it is important for the unity and development of our society. Through the German Citizen Award 2015, the “für mich. für uns. für alle.” initiative hopes to reward those who volunteer to work towards the diverse cultural landscape of Germany.
“Joint creative work brings people with different identities together, strengthens the feeling of unity and improves quality of life. More and more people in Germany are recognising the value of voluntary commitments for culture and cultural institutions”, says Georg Fahrenschon, President of the German Savings Banks Association (DSGV) with regards to the choice of main theme.