MISSION: To build cultural competency & global commerce.

VISION: To become Alabama’s leading organization that links communities and companies to global opportunity, leadership and world affairs.


For more than 60 years, The International Center has been a leader in international education for the state of Alabama. It began in 1951, when the Women’s Committee of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra envisioned a recital to be named the “Festival of Contemporary Music.” Soon after, in 1956, the Birmingham Festival of Arts was born, and the organization transitioned into structuring the festivals around a “salute” to a different country each year. Community support for the festival continued to grow as did the awareness of the importance of international education and global business development. In 1998, the name was changed to Birmingham International Festival to reflect the expansion of its programs into other activities. After a three-year strategic planning process, the 2006 Board of Directors unanimously changed the name to Birmingham International Center, a place for intercultural activity and networking.  As of 2015, we are shortening the name to The International Center.

The International Center (TIC) is the nation's oldest cultural education organization. Since 1951, TIC has grown into a resource for international business-education needs, including intercultural training, heritage and arts programming. We are a connection to global opportunity, leadership, and social competency. 

Since 1992, TIC has presented workshops and seminars on how to do business with more than 20 different countries. These programs continue to provide a learning and networking environment that assists in global business development. 

The International Center operates as a liaison organization to international businesses and cultural interests. We cultivate the leadership needed in successful international relations by delivering high-quality in-school multicultural programs to Alabama's youth. In addition, we bring corporations together through experience and understanding so that more energy can be devoted to fair trade and commerce opportunities. We demonstrate a spirit of understanding and tolerance for all cultures - in an increasingly - shrinking world.

TIC has spotlighted over 30 different countries, some multiple times. (For a list of these countries, click here.) These spotlights have led to the addition of significant Birmingham cultural assets, such as valuable acquisitions from Italy and South Korea at the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Moroccan fountain on 5th Avenue North in downtown Birmingham, and the Japanese Garden tea house at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. (Pictured below)

“I enjoyed my position as Chairman of the Spotlight on Colombia and working with our Honorary Chairman, John McMillan. I learned more about the Colombian culture, food, and passion than I originally thought possible. I also learned more about international business, cultural education and women’s issues than I knew coming in. Most importantly, I learned a lot about a great group of people associated with the Birmingham International Center...I learned from people with passion, vision, and a “can do” attitude. I consider myself lucky to have been associated with such a great group presenting unique events such as the International Women’s Day Awards Dinner, The Lost Jews of Colombia program, and Cross Border Transactions. We encouraged Birmingham area business people to expand their reach internationally, especially into the Colombian Market. ”

— Davies Hood, Spotlight on Colombia Chairman

Japanese Garden tea house at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Japanese Garden tea house at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Moroccan Fountain on 5th Ave North, downtown Birmingham

Moroccan Fountain on 5th Ave North, downtown Birmingham