Since 1948, UNESCO
UNESCO partners

UNESCO partners

ITI was created on the initiative of the first UNESCO Director General, Sir Julian Huxley, and the playwright and novelist, J.B. Priestly in 1948, just after the Second World War, and at the beginning of the Cold War, when the Iron Curtain divided the East and the West.

The aim of the founders of ITI was to build an organization that was aligned with UNESCO’s goals on culture, education and the arts, and which would focus its endeavours on improving the status of all members of the performing arts professions.

They envisaged an organization that created platforms for international exchange and for engagement in the education of the performing arts, for beginners and professionals alike, as well as using the performing arts for mutual understanding and peace.

What is the World Performing Arts Capital?

World Performing Arts Capital is a title bestowed by both UNESCO and ITI to a city in recognition of the quality of its programmes to support and promote the performing arts and education in this sector. Performing Arts embrace Drama Theatre, Dance and Music Theatre. The designation runs for one year.

The creation of the World Performing Arts Capital was approved by UNESCO during its General Assembly in 2013. The management for the call, the selection and the control and the evaluation has been delegated to ITI which will collaborate closely with UNESCO, to make sure that UNESCO and ITI aims are being followed.

Goals of the World Performing Arts Capital

The goals of the World Performing Arts Capital are to promote education, practice and experience of the Performing Arts by celebrating their diversity and transformative power in a given city, country, or region and potentially even across the world. The Capital focuses on the importance and value of the performing arts for the individual and society and for innovation and social change. The Capital actively encourages the development of the performing arts and education in the performing arts in the host city, region and country with a sustainable impact.

Sustainable Changes and Media Presence

From the beginning a World Performing Arts Capital has to create events and activities of high quality. To be selected by the jury a city has to propose projects, activities and plans creating a sustainable change for the performing arts, for society, etc. A new law in favour of the status of the performing artists, projects that bring theatre to minorities, education in the performing arts for all or similar issues that enhance the conditions for the profession, the participants and audiences. It is of utmost interest for the worldwide communities of the performing arts all over the world that the media report on these changes and results and that “best practices” are promoted for the benefit of all.

Possible Activities of a World Performing Arts Capital

The activities of the Capital may include (but are not limited to, to include ideas by the hosting Capital):
• Opening Ceremony.
• Festivals – dance, drama theatre, music theatre in all the possible different forms: drama, puppeteers, shadow theatre, children’s theatre, and theatre for young audiences, circus art, folk theatre, indigenous theatre, ritual theatre, amateur theatre, theatre for development, dance, ballet, mime, monodrama, etc. 
• University Theatre Festivals (with participating educational institutions for the performing arts; participating institutions may be limited to city or region or be open to institutions from all over the world).
• Street Theatre Festivals.
• Theatre of Nations Festival.
• Conferences, lectures, keynote speeches, master classes, round table discussions.

The ITI/UNESCO Network for Higher Education in the Performing Arts is a joint initiative of UNESCO and ITI together with more than 20 higher education and research institutions. It was built in alignment with the guidelines and procedures of the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chair and Network Program. The Network´s main focus is higher education in the performing arts – drama, theatre, dance, music theatre, playwriting and all related performing arts disciplines.

Its headquarters are based at the higher education institutions from which the coordinator(s) / director(s) is/are appointed. Currently the two co-directors are Gong Baorong from the Shanghai Theatre Academy and Derek Goldman from the Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The permanent address for the Network is at c/o ITI, UNESCO, in Paris.

The Network is a non-profit organization. It is non-political in izts nature. It welcomes members from all continents, independent of their socio-economic condition, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, culture and nationality. The Network is based on democratic principles and it follows the core values of collaboration, inclusiveness, transparency and inspiration.

The goals of the Network for Higher Education in the Performing Arts are:

• To make education in the performing arts accessible to all populations of students regardless of socio-economic condition, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, culture or nationality.

• To promote the professional education in the performing arts worldwide for the enhancement of the skills of professionals in the field.

• To exchange knowledge and best practices on different methodologies for education in the performing arts.

• To develop and share innovative models for higher education in the performing arts.

• To support higher education in the performing arts all over the world, including developed and developing countries – with a special focus on Africa, in alignment with the UNESCO global priority “Africa”.

• To initiate collaboration between the members of the Network.

• To protect and promote unique manifestations of “cultural identity” as observed and demonstrated by members of the network from their cultures – in alignment with the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

• To create a project to designate and preserve Intangible Heritage in the Performing Arts globally – in alignment with UNESCO and ITI.

• To advocate for peace, mutual understanding and respect through education in the performing arts – in alignment with the goals of UNESCO and ITI.

• To bring together students and educators in the performing arts and professionals of the performing arts for the benefit of the profession.


To reach these goals the Network can realize the following projects or activities – initiated and organized by its members or part of its members, regionally or internationally: school festivals, conferences, congresses (whenever possible in conjunction with the ITI World Congress), exchange programs for educators and students of the network, research projects, intangible heritage research and preservation activities – in conjunction with UNESCO and ITI, dissemination of knowledge in print or via digital and audio-visual publications, exhibitions, competitions, awards, and any other event or activity which supports the goals of the Network.


The following universities, academies, schools, higher education schools are member of the Network:

Armenia: Yerevan State Institute of Theatre and Cinematography, Yerevan

Bangladesh: University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Belgium: Ecole Supérieur des Arts, Mons

China: Shanghai Theatre Academy STA, Shanghai

Costa Rica: University of Costa Rica, San José

India: IAPAR International Association for Performing Arts and Research, Pune

Japan: Toho Gakuen College of Drama & Music, Tokyo

Mexico: Escuela Nacional de Arte Teatral ENAT, Mexico DF

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México UNAM, Mexico DF

Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Leon, Nuevo Leon

Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University, Manila

Russia: Raykin Higher School of Performing Arts, Moscow

South Africa: University of Cape Town, Cape Town

Spain: Institut de Teatro, Barcelona

Switzerland: University of the Arts, Zurich

University of the Arts, Bern

Academia Teatro Dimitri, Verscio

Slovenia: Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film & Television, Ljubljana

South Sudan: University of Juba College of Art, Music & Drama, Juba

Thailand: Chulalongkom University, Bangkok

USA: Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado

Office Bearers

President: Tobias BIANCONE, Switzerland/China

Vice-President: SUN Huizhu, China

Vice-President: Jeffrey SICHEL, USA

Co-Director: GONG Baorong, China

Co-Director: Derek GOLDMAN, USA


For all questions about the Network, Application, etc. please contact:

Information Centre of the ITI/UNESCO Network for Higher Education in the Performing Arts

c/o Raykin Higher School of Performing Arts


For reaching the president, please contact:

CHEN Zhongwen, Director for Collaborations ITI,