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 188 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.


 

Diese Normalität darf nicht zurückkehren . Am Sinn für tatsächliche Relevanz herrscht im Kulturbetrieb erschreckender Mangel
This normality must not return . There is a frightening lack of a sense of actual relevance in the culture industry

by Peter Grabowski (01 Feb 2021)
Original source: Politik & Kultur

With a persistently high incidence value, Yilmaz Dziewior, the director of the Museum Ludwig, expressed the assumption in a mid-January interview on Deutschlandfunk that the museums will reopen in mid-February. In his commentary, Peter Grabowski takes this statement as an opportunity to reflect on the overconfidence of cultural workers in Germany. Democracy is not in danger just because the public is not allowed into museums and theatres. These are leisure facilities. Central social issues have long since ceased to be negotiated in a leading role in cultural institutions . Social media and the mass media play a much more central role in discourse here. Therefore, Grabowski calls on cultural practitioners to leave their ivory tower, acknowledge the reality of the pandemic and think about how cultural institutions can regain more relevance in society.

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tag Kulturszene Relevanz Selbstüberschätzung Yilmaz Dziewior Quo vadis ars Lockdown
All sections Kommentar

Die Literaturszene verliert ihre Foren . Absage der Leipziger Buchmesse
The literary scene loses its forums . Cancellation of the Leipzig Book Fair

by Helmut Böttiger (29 Jan 2021)
Original source: Deutschlandfunk Kultur

The Leipzig Book Fair will not take place in 2021 either. Even the postponement to the beginning of May seems untenable for a major event. For the industry in transition, the cancellation is a painful loss, not only financially, because what is currently understood as literature and how it is talked about has changed noticeably. Today, literature is a small market segment of the so-called culture industry and is no longer a place of debate about aesthetic standards and socio-political issues.  An indicator for this is the announcement of the WDR to go new ways in li terature reviews. The book fair would have offered publishers and authors a forum to exchange ideas about this structural crisis.

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tag Buchmesse Literaturkritik Verlage Event Quo vadis ars
Literature/ Text Kommentar

Ein Wort geht um auf deutschsprachigen Bühnen: der »Premierenstau«
A word is circulating on German-speaking stages: the »premiere backlog«

by Bernd Noack (29 Jan 2021)
Original source: Neue Züricher Zeitung

While the theatres had still hoped to reopen soon with the announcement of a lockdown light in November, the date for the start of productions seems to have receded into the distant future. While many theatres were still working on new productions in November and December, rehearsals have now largely stopped. Frustration in the ensembles is growing, as it is even less foreseeable than in the spring when a return to normal operations will be possible. As at the beginning of the season in autumn, audiences can then expect a flurry of premieres, as the new productions are j ust waiting to be presented. Until then, on the one hand, crisis management is in demand at the theatres, which - according to many theatre managers - is basically part of their everyday business. On the other hand, Nicolas Stemann from the Schauspielhaus Zurich asks the justified question of whether one can continue to plan with a theatre repertoire operation or whether the houses should not use the current situation to try out new formats and a new kind of artistic activity. 

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tag Theater Systemrelevanz Lockdown Premierenstau Quo vadis ars Planungssicherheit
Performing Arts/ Cinema Bericht

»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

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

Kulturzeit extra: Theater im Lockdown
Kulturzeit extra: Theatres during lockdown

by Vivian Pekovic (Moderation) (18 Nov 2020)
Original source: Kulturzeit

The German TV program Kulturzeit focusses in this issue on the situation of the theaters during lockdown. The first contribution inspects the situation at the Volksbühne in Berlin. There, the project »Spielplanänderung« (Change of play program) aimed to bring back to the stage unjustly forgotten plays by important authors. But now the theatre is not only fighting for the authors, but also for not being forgotten as institution. The actors not only play, but also discuss the role of the theater. What bothers them about the political discussion is the disrespectful tone, because they all agree that the theater offers an important outlet for society. It is the place for a discourse on topics that are discussed by a broad audience. They consider it a luxury to be allowed to rehearse, yet the current situation costs a lot of energy - especially since for many actors who do not have a permanent contract with a theater, the income breaks off. The demand that the theaters be allowed to reopen soon is not only demanded by cultural workers, but also by the Senator for Culture in Berlin, Klaus Lederer.

The theater critic and author Simon Strauß developed the program for the ›Change of program‹. He points out that it is currently dangerous to over-adapt as theater and to play down one's own status. Subsidies and the standing of the theater as a psychological and humane institution could be lost.

An important experience for the actor Lars Eidinger was not being allowed to play for seven months. During this time he realized that for him, working on stage is the creative center of his work. For him, the central characteristic of theater is immediacy, which no other medium can achieve. However, he sees the theater not as a moral institution, but rather as a free space in which one does not have to distinguish between good and evil.  

However, there are also voices that demand that theater professionals use the crisis to reflect on their own position. Simon Strauß is one of these voices. He would like to see the creative people emerge from the crisis with a new form of consciousness. For the theaters this means, among other things, revising play programs, making them more diverse. But new formats must be developed on stage. He sees streaming only as a substitute, a consolation for the time until the houses can play again. For him theaters make an important contribution to the psychological edification of people with their immediacy, with their way of raising questions. This has to be defended self-confidently against politics, especially in view of upcoming budget cuts. Theater - as Strauß puts it - is more than systemically relevant, it is »decisive«.

In addition to the theaters, however, other cultural institutions are also threatened by the crisis. Although it is still allowed to perform in Switzerland, many institutions survive mainly because of their parallel cafe and bar operation. The few spectators who are admitted to a performance make it almost impossible to work economically.

One of the few cultural institutions that are allowed to open in Germany are the galleries. They enable the artists at least not to be completely forgotten - after all, they not only suffer from the threat to their existence, but also from not being allowed to show their works. Nevertheless, it is also difficult for galleries to assert themselves on the market at the moment, because new groups of buyers cannot be addressed at present. So the question here is also how art and culture can be valued and rewarded as an essential good for society in the future.

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tag November-Lockdown Theater Krise als Chance Unmittelbarkeit Streaming Simon Strauß Lars Eidinger Volksbühne Galerien Quo vadis ars
Performing Arts/ Cinema Kultursendung

Geld ist im Übermaß vorhanden . Corona-Hilfen für Künstler
Money is available in abundance . Corona aids for artists

by Herbert Grönemeyer (04 Nov 2020)
Original source: Zeit

The musician Herbert Grönemeyer reevaluates the »Unterhaltung« as German expression for entertainment,  interpreting  the term as "holding from below". Here people find help and confidence when they are sad or frustrated. But they can also express their joy. Due to the absence of live performances, the audience is deprived of this valve. No more refuge or substitute world. Reality remains and with it spaces for stupidity and crude theories. The soul of the society is endangered and consequently the social cohesion as a whole. The impa ct on the existence of the many workers who make live events possible in the first place is in this understanding only a symptom of the erosion of society. How to counteract this process? How to ensure that live events are possible again after the crisis? This is where Grönemeyer now becomes very concrete: These people must not be forced to touch their old-age provision. Help must be available to them quickly and without complications.
But how could this help look like? In this case Grönemeyer is not asking the state to help, but is suggesting an alternative: Just as in a natural catastrophe the family helps a person affected, so in the current crisis a sign of solidarity is needed. According to the musician, this should come from the 1.8 million millionaires in Germany.This gesture would not only help the cultural workers whose existence is threatened, but it would also strengthen social cohesion and counteract the division that has been observed for decades.
Interestingly, Grönemeyer's statement lacks a convincing argument: He would have to set a shining example of solidarity by making a generous donation - he too is one of Germany's millionaires....

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tag Kulturbetrieb Solidarität Millionäre Seele der Gesellschaft Zusammenhalt Liveevent Quo vadis ars
All sections Kommentar

Stille mit Vorsatz . Verbale Aufrüstung schlägt nötige Differenzierung: zur Kritik der Kulturbranche am zweiten Shutdown
Silence with intent . Verbal armament beats necessary differentiation: on the culture industry's criticism of the second shutdown

by Hartmut Welscher, Christian Koch (04 Nov 2020)
Original source: VAN Magazin für klassische Musik

The fact that the November lockdown hits art and culture hard, even though excellent hygiene concepts were developed to protect the public, divides the cultural world in Germany. The displeasure was expressed in open letters and articles in newspapers and social media. Only a few balanced voices can be heard at present. Federal and state governments are not innocent of this situation, as they have caused displeasure by failing to provide adequate justification as to which cultural and economic sectors are to be closed and which may remain open. As was already the case in March, many cultural workers feel offended by politics being assigned to professions that are not systemically relevant. So they feel that their function for society is not valued. Many now joined the statement of the trumpeter Tim Brönner, who complained that the cultural industry had no lobby, and tried to make themselves heard. The verbal armament, however, conceals the fact that the pandemic constitutes a twofold threat to artists: in addition to the material threat, many of them increasingly find themselves in a crisis of identity when they are no longer allowed to perform or interact with an audience. And so artists are currently making themselves heard loud and clear, but are still unable to find their way around.This applies not only to culture, but also to politics, which is currently more likely to stumble forward than to steer the processes in a targeted manner.  And so the authors feel uncomfortable when Finance Minister Olaf Scholz keeps granting new aid programs. Public funds are limited, and the first municipalities are already making cuts.
For the cultural industry, the question now is where the development is heading. There will hardly be a return to the status quo-especially since it was not a good one before the crisis. At the beginning of the pandemic, many musicians were happy to have escaped the »hamster wheel of global competition and competitive pressure«. Can't quantity leave the field to quality? In this way, the cultural sector could at the same time make its contribution to solving the ecological question.

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tag Klassik Musikbranche November-Lockdown Lagerbildung Lobby Sinnkrise Existenzkrise Quo vadis ars Stille Hamsterrad
Music Bericht

Jagt den Krimi in die Luft! . Literatur und Corona
Blow up the thriller! . Literature and Corona

by Simone Buchholz (28 Oct 2020)
Original source: Zeit

Crises freeze time for a moment and divide our experience into a before and after. One of the central tasks of art is to tell about such times of crisis. One genre for which the crisis is a core element is the crime fiction,novel, and so it is not surprising that the German crime novelist Simone Buchholz reflects on a new orientation of the genre in the weekly newspaper »Die Zeit«.
In order to finally gain a firm place in the genre of society novels, the crime fiction would have to throw overboard a whole range of its previous characteristics, above al l a simplistic narrative and the German idyll. Instead, the new crime fiction must shake at the genre's boundaries, leave every safe haven and devote itself to the completely unknown. Only the individual can be at the center of such a new novel. The characteristics that Buchholz now lists are the human striving for knowledge, his sense of solidarity and an idea of social cohesion. This reads as if Faust was crossed with Gretchen. The new crime fiction novel should also be a contemporary witness and, in addition to documenting the state of the crisis, it should also document how the crisis was withstood.  
Is the genre abolishing itself? asks the experienced crime novelist at the end of her dream of a new crime fiction novel. We will know when her new novel is published.

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tag Corona-Roman Kriminalroman Neuausrichtung von der Krise erzählen Quo vadis ars
Literature/ Text Reflexion

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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