48 Stunden Neukölln is a forum for projects in all conceivable artistic disciplines found in the art scene in Berlin. The festival both presents and supports art, thereby contributing to discussions of ideas effecting society at large while also reflecting said society. All segments of the local population get involved, regardless of age, ethnic background or social standing. Art here is something more than what's on view in galleries and museums during 48 Stunden. The festival brings not only a variety of disciplines, but also people together, as they view art which relays important ideas. This manifests itself in discursive, participatory and interdisciplinary projects, which are a festival priority. At the same though, there is also a focus on art for art's sake – including the conditions under which art is made, techniques used as well as the social function that art can serve. The festival endeavours to explore all potential forms of contemporary artistic expression, including ways of dealing with political issues in the arts.
Since it was founded in 1999, 48 Stunden Neukölln has developed into an event that serves as a role model for countless others. It is the largest independent festival of the arts in Berlin. The district of Neukölln is transformed, for 48 hours, into a place where artistic experimentation is fostered. Art projects are presented that were conceived specifically with Neukölln in mind, inspired by or dealing with local realities of life, the diversity to be found here and the special demographics of the area. Open-ended, process-orientated endeavours that foster creative discourse are carried out without limitations, and in the process, the innovative character of the festival is intensified. Works of art that were realised for the festival have an impact beyond the district of Berlin-Neukölln: many of these projects take a strong stance on societal issues and support lasting exchanges of ideas on the international art scene.
48 Stunden Neukölln is also unique among festivals because it organised in a decentralised manner. Along with established, professional art venues, new and unusual locations beyond the beaten path host artistic activities, especially in the public realm, where artworks can be discovered, made accessible and given new uses. These projects provide visitors with opportunities to experience a wide variety of different social and cultural spaces: this variety makes it possible to experience this lively and exciting anew from a gamut of different perspectives. It is precisely this that attracts the more than 70,000 visitors to the festival from Berlin, the rest of Germany and even from abroad.
The festival is a joint initiative involving artists, spectators and other residents. A prerequisite for participation is a willingness to carry out a project without payment, to take a multidisciplinary approach, facilitating co-operation between the most varied individuals and organisations. Communication initiated by the event between artists and local institutions has become one of the sustainable successes of the festival over the years. Every year, the content-related and structural direction that 48 Stunden Neukölln takes is re-evaluated in light of developments during the past year's edition. Discussions take place in a democratically-orientated working group each year to optimise how the festival continues to grow.