Quo vadis ars?

The situation in the cultural sector has been described and discussed in numerous interviews, corona diaries, comments and reports in the past few weeks. Our annotated collection of currently 175 sources gathers voices from different sectors and media. This creates a picture of the cultural landscape in crisis, whose temporal transformation can be explored interactively via a dedicated tag cloud.


 

So gefährlich war die Kunst noch selten . Aber der Kultur-Shutdown trifft uns alle
Art has rarely been so dangerous . But the culture shutdown affects us all

by Roman Bucheli (30 Dec 2020)
Original source: NZZ

Culture is currently banned from public space. This not only puts the livelihoods of cultural workers at risk, but is also a drastic experience for the community. The community lacks a place in which to experiment, formulate dissent, or test out ideas. Unlike in politics, the aim is not to assert one's own position, but to stimulate a discourse that forms a critical public sphere and thus drives the development of society. If it allows the individual to see the world with different eyes and to face the demands of everyday life more equanimously, an important task of culture is the humanization of society. Although art can also be enjoyed in isolation, it requires public space in order to help shape it. Karl Jaspers defined the public sphere as a prerequisite for truth, since the individual can only face up to debate in the public sphere. His disciple Hannah Arendt even spoke of the »venture of the public sphere«, since humanity can never be won in solitude. It takes public space to build a network of thoughts and relationships that encounter ideas from others and are considered before an audience. This is how a many-voiced conversation emerges. We are currently experiencing in online meetings that this is not possible in virtual space. The individual can cope with the absence of this analog exchange for a while, but society will break down in the long run.  

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tag Gemeinwesen Öffentlichkeit Humanität DiskursKarl Jaspers Hannah Arendt Widerspruch
All sections Kommentar

»Die freien Schauspieler sind überhaupt nicht abgesichert« . Metropoltheater München in der Coronakrise

by Jochen Schölch, Maja Ellmenreich (29 Dec 2020)
Original source: Deutschlandfunk

Independent theatres are particularly affected by the crisis. The Metropoltheater itself, as Jochen Schölch, artistic director and founder of the Metropol, reported in an interview with Deutschlandfunk, will get through the crisis thanks to a grant from the city of Munich. Nevertheless, the theatre is currently short about 450,000 euros, which were financed from reserves from previous years. The shortfall is due to the fact that the theatre pays the actors, all of whom are only booked for individual productions, the equivalent of short-time allowance, to which actor s working on freelance contracts are not entitled. Since actors often switch between permanent employment and freelance contracts, they currently fall through the cracks of state aid. In addition to the city of Munich, the theatre is supported by non-refunded tickets and donations from the Friends of the Theatre.
Even though the theatre has come through the crisis well so far, the artistic director is still worried whether the audience will return to the theatre after the lockdown or whether they have become so accustomed to Netflix and the like that they will no longer leave the house to visit the theatre in the evening. The question of whether actors will still be available is also on his mind. Those who have the opportunity are currently signing a contract for a television series in order to be able to fall back on a permanent income.
In an online presentation with short, associative video clips, the Metropoltheater has reflected on what theatre after Corona could look like. There is no streaming offer, however, as they are convinced that theatre can only be experienced in analogue form. 

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tag Theater Schauspieler*innen Streaming Unterstützung Finanzierung Kurzarbeit Quo vadis ars
Performing Arts/ Cinema Interview

Zauber der lebenden Bilder . 125 Jahre Kino
The magic of tableaux vivants

by Andreas Busche (28 Dec 2020)
Original source: Tagesspiegel

To mark the anniversary of the first cinema showing on 28 December 1895, cinemas will be closed in almost all countries this year. The industry is therefore not in the mood to celebrate. In the Tagesspiegel, Andreas Busche reflects on the current situation of the industry on the occasion of the anniversary.
A premiere took place at Christmas: Warner and Disney released films without a theatrical release for the first time. The era of the blockbuster is thus coming to an end. Whether the new James Bond will draw audiences to the cinema next year remains open to que stion. In 2020, the combination of streaming services and the pandemic has taken an extreme toll on the industry. Currently, film theatres are only getting through the crisis with state support. This is not only because the film theatre has lost the aura that surrounded it in the early 20th century. At present, instead of euphoria, there is often a sense of mistrust towards the people sitting in the cinema with them. However - as Busche reminds us - cinema has always depended on a mixed calculation. For example, the factory owner Stollwerk realised early on that selling chocolate in the cinema hall would boost business. Today, cinema operators have to offer chocolate, nachos and cola to survive because ticket sales alone do not pay off.
The crisis of the cinema is proclaimed at regular intervals. Busche is therefore sure that it will survive this crisis, too - but he is not one of the optimists who hope that the pandemic could be a corrective for undesirable developments of past decades.

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tag Kino Streaming Blockbuster Misstrauen Krise als Chance
Performing Arts/ Cinema Bericht

»Es wurde zu viel abgesagt« . Kultur während Corona
»Too much has been cancelled« . Culture during Corona

by Axel Zibulski (26 Dec 2020)
Original source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Already after the spring lockdown, it was clear to many concert organisers of smaller events that they would be better off financially foregoing performances. The few places that could be allocated did not allow for cost-covering events. Nevertheless, many of them spared no effort to be able to offer events again, to bring artists on stage. The audience gratefully accepted the offer. The tickets for each concert were quickly sold out. Karl-Werner Joerg, who is in charge of several subscription series in the Rhine-Main region, criticises the fact that many organ isers have cancelled concerts in anticipatory obedience. Especially with the smaller concerts, hygiene concepts could be taken into account very well, which is why - unlike with a big rock concert - a cancellation did not seem necessary. This also shows the support he has received. Subscribers have largely supported him, some concerts could be made possible with special public payments or private donations.

For a freelance concert organiser who does not have his own venue, the emergency aid and bridging funds were not available during the lockdown. On the one hand, he has few fixed costs, on the other hand, he also had income from subscriptions during the lockdown, which he was, however, not allowed to use to finance the new season until the autumn.
In the current situation, he demands above all that smaller events be allowed to take place again and that the industry show more solidarity. If large spaces were opened up for smaller organisers, this would not only help them and the musicians, but would also send an important signal to the »culture industry«: As in agriculture or retail, it should be about promoting smaller initiatives so that in the end it is not only the big chains that survive.

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tag Konzertveranstalter Lockdown Planungssicherheit Solidarität Kulturindustrie
Music Bericht

Schauspielhaus-Intendant Stemann: «Uns ist die Fähigkeit abhandengekommen, mit anderen Menschen mitzufühlen»

by Julia Stephan, Nicolas Stemann (22 Dec 2020)
Original source: Tagblatt

Working creatively and productively with the resistances that the Corona crisis means for theater professionals, that is the trademark of Nicolas Stemann, the co-director of the Schauspielhaus Zürich. Already last spring, he accompanied life during the pandemic critically and humorously at the same time with columns for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and the 'Corona Passion Plays'. In his home office he wrote songs for the Passion Plays, as it was not possible for him to discuss developments during the suspended rehearsals. Nevertheless, he also sees the nega tive sides of the pandemic. Workflows have to be rethought, premieres postponed, casts minimized, schedules rescheduled - of course, this also means a great burden. On the one hand, this increases the workload for many, and on the other hand, it is extremely stressful, especially for actors, if they cannot rehearse with a goal in mind. This is one of the reasons why the Schauspielhaus Zurich very successfully offers a live-streamed performance once a week. 
It is important for Stemann to emphasize that the theaters consider the closure of the houses to be an important contribution to the fight against the pandemic. His only concern is that it may have too little impact by placing too few restrictions in other areas. With regard to the concerns and problems of people during the pandemic, he considers art and culture to be extremely important in order to negotiate the open questions together in a discussion space and to find an outlet for emotions. The fact that this is not available at the moment, but that instead emotions such as hatred and incomprehension are acted out in social networks, is for him one of the major problems of the theater closures.

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tag Theater Tod Streaming Arbeitsalltag psychische Belastung Quo vadis ars
Performing Arts/ Cinema Interview

Technik statt Theater? . Über das Bezahlmodell Streaming an deutschsprachigen Bühnen
Technics instead of theatre? . About the streaming payment model at German-language stages

by Barbara Behrendt (22 Dec 2020)
Original source: Deutschlandfunk

During the first Lockdown, the theatres mainly offered internal recordings of performances in streaming, but since November there has been an increase in plays that were explicitly developed for live streaming. These productions are linked to online payment models. Here, the audience can only watch a live stream after having purchased a ticket. This is increasingly important for theatre professionals. Not only does it prevent viewers from switching from theatre to theatre, as in the case of television, but above all the ticket purchase valorises the cultural experience. In addition, the theatres can cover at least part of their expenses. If, as in Leonie Böhm's  ›Leonce und Leonce‹ at the Schauspielhaus Zurich, the director Leonie Böhm herself directs the six cameras and thus guides the view, then the theatre evening also promises an artistic concept. Pure documentaries with rigid camera work, on the other hand, fail the critics. The Deutsches Theater in Berlin is still cautious about live streaming, as audience numbers for productions that have to be paid for have dropped into the mid-three-digit range. The Sophiensäle in Berlin were also quite positive about live performances by the group Interrobang. However, even for events in the theatre here, the attendance figures are very reduced compared to streamings. Experimentation with streaming and hybrid forms, the theatre-makers agree, will continue to develop its own forms of presentation after the lockdown. In the crisis, streaming seems to offer theatre-makers a welcome field of experimentation to creatively find answers to the closed houses and to keep in touch with their audiences.

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tag Theater Streaming Bezahlmodelle digitale Expertise Hypridmodelle Quo vadis ars
Performing Arts/ Cinema Bericht

Kino in Corona-Zeit . Rückblick aufs (Katastrophen-) Filmjahr
Cinema in times of Corona . Review of the (disaster) film year

by Walli Müller (20 Dec 2020)
Original source: NDR

The annual reviews begin in mid-December. The film industry and cinema operators were particularly hard hit in 2020. While the start of the year with the 'Kangaroo Chronicles' still looked quite good, the Corona pandemic led to a 70 percent drop in sales for the year as a whole. The reason for this are not only the Hollywood blockbusters, which will not be screened until next year, and the competition from streaming providers, but above all the reduced space available and the renewed lockdown in November. German productions like 'Undine' and 'Berlin A lexanderplatz' reached only a small audience despite awards and good reviews. Only the children's film was able to show good attendance figures with 'Jim Knopf und die Wilde 13', despite the small amount of space available, November started promisingly.

On a positive note, 2020 saw the revival of drive-in cinemas and hybrid film festivals that made it open to more than just local visitors through online access. Nevertheless, the closures and the competition from streaming platforms are making it difficult for cinemas to operate. Three cinemas had to file for insolvency this year due to corona; whether these are the only victims of the industry will become clear in 2021.

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tag 2020 Kino Filmstarts Umsatzverlust Streaming Insolvenz
Performing Arts/ Cinema Jahresrückblick

Auktionshäuser sind die Gewinner in der Krise
Auction houses are the winners in the crisis

by Christian Herchenröder (17 Dec 2020)
Original source: Handelsblatt

The corona-induced shrinkage of 30 to 40 percent is distributed differently among the players in the art market. While 2020 art fairs and galleries with virtual art fairs and exhibitions were only able to score with the public to a limited extent, the auction houses recorded strong sales increases with online-only auctions. In particular, they were able to encourage first-time buyers, especially from America and China, to bid for high-priced art, especially in the contemporary sector.

tag Kunstmarkt Galerien Auktionshäuser Online-Ausstellung Kunstmesse Rezession
Visual Arts/Design Bericht

Place de la Bastille, la culture crie sa colère face au “mépris” du gouvernement
Place de la Bastille, the culture cries out in anger at the government's »contempt«

by Sophie Rahal (15 Dec 2020)
Original source: Télérama'

The French government's recent decision not to reopen cultural institutions on 15 December is leading to nationwide demonstrations by cultural workers from a wide range of disciplines, from street art to contemporary music and visual artists. The discontent articulated in Montpellier or in the historic Place de la Bastille in Paris is directed against the »contempt« articulated in government conduct. But it expresses also the financial precariousness that affects many of them despite state aid measures. The cultural workers are not asking for special trea tment but lamenting the injustice because despite all the health precautions taken to keep audiences safe, theatres and cinemas remain closed while commerce and churches are allowed to reopen. Actor Samuel Churin warns: »But [...] since the government has made a political decision, [...] we have to go into resistance. We will invade churches, shopping malls, auction houses.... And we will put on shows there«. He is one of the co-initiators of an emergency motion to be set up at the Conseil d'État on 16 December demanding the reopening of the venues.

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tag Widerstand Frankreich Gleichbehandlung Prekariat Theater Kirche Kino
All sections Bericht

Der deutsche Staat verachtet Selbstständige und Kreative
The German state is contemptuous of self-employed and creative people

by Sascha Lobo (09 Dec 2020)
Original source: Der Spiegel

Why do solo self-employed people receive so little support from the GroKo during the crisis? This is the question that author and strategy consultant Sascha Lobo addresses in his column. Based on an interview with the SPD politician and Lower Saxony's Minister President Stephan Weil, in which he pointed out that Corona aid is a means of solidarity. Since the self-employed have not paid into any unemployment insurance so far, they are now dependent on transfer payments from the state.  For this reason, he calls in the interview for compulsory insurance for the se lf-employed.
What sounds plausible at first glance turns out, on closer inspection, to be an attempt to curb self-employment in Germany. In principle, the self-employed make an important contribution to the community of solidarity. For years, one-third of the pension fund has been replenished with tax revenues, since the pension insurance would otherwise be bankrupt. In other words, the self-employed pay for a benefit that they themselves do not receive. Unemployment insurance for the self-employed has been discussed time and again since the turn of the millennium, but it has never been implemented. The failure to include non-permanent employees in social systems is now being used to the opposite effect, however, as the solo self-employed in particular are being accused of taking advantage of transfer payments - i.e. benefits without receiving anything in return. The fact that the self-employed are also taxpayers is tacitly passed over. Even the comment by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz that the solo self-employed, who have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, are being supported with all their might is no more than lip service. They are being offered a total of 5,000 euros until next summer to cushion their massive sales losses. November aid is only available to self-employed workers who are directly affected. But because the self-employed in particular are diversely positioned, they quickly fall below the 80 percent threshold, which means that if they have generated less sales with companies directly or indirectly affected by Lockdown, they will not receive any assistance. Yet it is precisely the solo self-employed who drive the economy forward with innovations and, under certain circumstances, lay the foundation for large companies. But it is only when the self-employed generate permanent jobs that they receive recognition from the state in the form of billions in aid, state loans or short-time work.
Lobo uses the example of author and director Anika Decker to show how little the work of creatives and the self-employed is respected. She wrote the book for the mega-successful film  »Keinohrhasen« (No Ears), but was not given a share of the success by the production company. The commercializing company has now been sentenced to pay for the author's creative work, but the example shows how little creativity is valued in Germany.
Why does self-employment still have the reputation in Germany of being unsound and somehow unserious? Permanent employment, on the other hand, is considered sacred? One important reason is that too many self-employed people could bring down our social security systems. From 50 percent tax contribution to the pension fund, the self-employed could overturn the pension system, since it violates the equal treatment system of the German constitution. Thus, they will probably not be offered a worthy instrument for old-age security in the future either, and instead they will have to accept accusations of unsolidarity.

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tag Festanstellung Stephan Weil Solidarität Solo-Selbständige Arbeitslosenversicherung Olaf Scholz Novemberhilfe Wertschätzung Konzerne
All sections Statement

A subtle vision welcomes visitors on the front page of facing arts: an animation of black and white artist portraits that have a questioning, challenging or just curious eye on the visitors. In the foreground changing quotes from the commented collection of articles »Quo vadis ars?« are sliding. These short highlights give an overview of the current discussion about the arts in times of Corona. The names of the cited persons link to the respective text in the review collection. Facing arts documents the diversity of the cultural landscape and at the same time opens up a discourse space reflecting the importance of the arts in the present.

Facing Arts - «Fear Eats the Soul»

Closed concert halls, theaters, museums, literary houses, libraries and cinemas are not only an expression of a society in a state of emergency, but also a sign of a crisis that is particularly hard on the creative industry. For artists, the closure of all public and private cultural institutions does not only mean a ban on work, which for most people goes hand in hand with an immense drop in sales. At the same time, the prescribed social distancing also means that personal exchange and interaction, as they are not only important for musicians, actors, writers and acrobats with colleagues, and the public, but also at the same time the development of new project ideas and thus the acquisition of new orders for the coming months is hardly possible. It is the crisis after the crisis that has l left many cultural professionals in a state of shock. With reference to Rainer Werner Fassbinder's film Angst essen Seele auf [engl. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul], the chairman of the German Cultural Council Olaf Zimmermann has found a fitting picture for the current situation. The aim of facing arts is to counteract this rigidity,

Artists showing their face – 25 times per second

In facing arts, the many hard-to-understand faces of creative artists in Germany and beyond condense. The projection thus creates a new form of publicity at a time when Article 8 of the German constitution is largely overridden and public demonstrations are not possible. Artists gather here virtually, not only to draw attention to their situation, but also to demonstrate their right to practice freely. In this way, the public also becomes aware of how large the anonymous number of solo soloists in the cultural sector actually is. 188,332 active artists are registered in Germany's Artists' Social Welfare Fund (KSK) alone.

Quo vadis ars? – »cultural« memory of the crisis

But speed does not only play a role in the facial animation, but also in public discourse. Who remembers at the beginning of June 2020 how the situation of the artists was assessed in March. What forecasts were made and which artistic genres are currently being given special consideration in the discussion, in other words, who is supported by the media and thus receives a voice and who does not? The commented collection of contributions "Quo vadis ars?" is intended to trace the development of the discussion. The question raised again and again about the function of art and culture in society can thus be answered.
In the quotations on the front page of facing arts, individual actors have their say. The short statements are taken from the collection of articles. Each time the page is called up, nine portraits and five quotations are called up at random. The animation with the black-and-white portraits in the background of the page is meant to arouse curiosity about the project facing arts and at the same time to make people think about the individual fates of the artists in the face animation collective.

Facing arts gives culture a face. Therefore everyone working artistically in the broader sense is invited to participate. At times when there is a debate about whether the cultural sector has a lobby, our goal is to show how many and how diverse we are.

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The Team

Facing arts is a projet by STORM.

STORM is an acronym playing with the initials by Miriam Seidler & Tim Otto Roth, who are hit both by the Corona crisis. Dr. Miriam Seidler is a scholar in German literature and currently works as specialist in public relations. Dr. Tim Otto Roth is a scholar in art and science history and works as a conceptual artist and composer. He is known for his huge projects in public space, cooperations with leading scientific institutions and his immersive sound and light installations. Miriam and Tim collaborate regularly for years. With facing arts they reaslize their first common art project.
You find more informatin on both initiators on www.miriamseidler.de and www.imachination.net.

Special thanks to Paco Croket for the tag cloud programming!

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