The International Theatre Institute ITI, the world’s largest performing arts organization founded in 1948 by theatre and dance experts and UNESCO, strives for a society in which performing arts and their artists thrive and flourish. ITI advances UNESCO’s goals of mutual understanding and peace and advocates for the protection and promotion of cultural expressions, regardless of age, gender, creed or ethnicity. It works to these ends internationally and nationally in the areas of arts education, international exchange and collaboration, and youth training.
It was just after World War II that the growing feeling that peace needed to be constructed above all in the minds of men though exchange, international cooperation and dialogue gave the impetus that led to the birth and influence of the various United Nations’ organisations.
UNESCO came into being in 1946, and a sub-committee on Arts and Letters which included distinguished writers and dramatists met at its First General Conference. It soon became clear that there was a need for an international clearing-house for theatre arts, a non-political, non–commercial association in which theatre artists and administrators of all countries could work out a practical programme to facilitate exchange and circulation of play scripts, current theatre information, performing arts companies, and young artists.
The first ITI Congress met in Prague in June 1948, bringing together delegates from the first 12 Centres in operation: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, UK and USA.
Over the years ITI has grown into the leading international organization for the performing arts, present in more than 100 countries and consisting of over 120 ITI Centres and Cooperating Members, as well as 11 internationally-active committees.
The International Theatre Institute ITI follows the vision to
- use the power of the performing arts as an indispensable bridge-builder for mutual international understanding and peace;
- support and highlight the deep discourse taking place on our stages;
- focus on art-making and advocates for the practice of performing arts on every level: politically, culturally, educationally, socially;
- encourage transference of knowledge and research in the performing arts;
- help performing arts professionals share ideas and build connections with each other;
- nurture, develops and connects international performing arts professionals;
- facilitate one-on-one communication between Centres and fosters active projects between countries;
- acknowledge the legacy of traditional work forms and embraces innovation;
- support through its network the protection and promotion of cultural diversity and identity within the performing arts.