In April 1979 BMW AG and the City of Munich, with the support of Münchner Olympiapark GmbH, founded SPIELMOTOR MÜNCHEN e.V., a registered association, with the goal of promoting special cultural activities and making contemporary artistic projects possible.
Initially, it was the Münchner Theaterfestival, which was unique for its time and established itself as a constant component in Munich's cultural life up until 1985.
The Alabamahalle was added to these activities in 1981 as a multifunctional performance venue for music, theater, and dance with an international program that attracted attention far beyond the borders of Munich. When in 1988 the building, which from the beginning was only a temporary venue, was demolished, SPIELMOTOR found new fields of activity. The program "Encounter with the Netherlands" in 1989; the program "Dialogue with Poland" in 1991; and one year later the program "Dialogue with Kiev" introduced to Munich audiences new artistic developments in theater and visual arts in these regions.
Since the first Munich Biennale in 1988 – the international festival of new music theater – SPIELMOTOR has been a junior partner of the festival organizer, the City of Munich, in the preparation and execution of this renowned festival. In the same proven and tested manner, the association has been working together with the city since 1998 on DANCE, the City of Munich's international festival of contemporary dance.
In 1995 the festival concept was revived and since then the association has been organizing every two years its "own" theater festival, SPIELART. This festival provides a forum for innovative developments in the area of the performing and performative arts and enables an intercultural dialogue. SPIELART quickly established a distinguished international profile and became a guarantee for artistic highlights in the City of Munich's cultural life.
With SPIELART the association implements what it stood for from the very beginning:
It enables, in a professional manner, the audience to experience an exchange with international avant-garde artists. It picks up on topical socio-critical issues and brings them to the municipal community. It supports newcomer artists and arouses curiosity about unconventional creative forms of expression.
The registered association SPIELMOTOR MÜNCHEN e.V. is an exemplary model of a successful and stable public-private partnership: joint financing by the partners BMW and the City of Munich with complete freedom of selecting content on the part of the association in designing its activities. This cooperation is the open "secret of success," which by now has been continuing for forty years and which actually reveals its program already in its name: SPIELMOTOR – the two partners' motor that guarantees a play, a performance, with artistic qualities.