Krisengefüge der Künste



Forschungsgruppe bei IFTR Konferenz in Shanghai mit Panel vertreten

08.07.2019 – 12.07.2019

Bei der Jahreskonferenz 2019 der IFTR (International Federation for Theatre Research), die vom 8.-12. Juli unter dem Titel "Theatre, Performance, and Urbanism" in Shanghai/China stattfindet, sind mit Anja Quickert, Ulrike Hartung, Benjamin Hoesch und Christopher Balme auch Mitglieder der Forschungsgruppe vertreten.
Im Kontext der Tagung, die sich mit dem Zusammenspiel von Theater und Urbanisierungsprozessen, bzw. den Auswirkungen von Urbanisierung auf die darstellenden Künste und ihr soziologisches, stadtplanerisches, (kultur-)politisches, ökonomisches und architektonisches Umfeld auseinandersetzt, platziert die Forschungsgruppe ein Panel mit dem Titel "Inside and outside the City – Theatre and the Urban Public Sphere in Germany". Folgende Vorträge sind geplant:



General Panel "Inside and outside the City - Theatre and the Urban Public Sphere in Germany"
Chair: Prof. Dr. Christopher Balme


Opera and the city – Dortmund’s Bürgeroper between high culture and urban society
Dr. Ulrike Hartung

State funded opera houses in Germany are becoming increasingly a target of public criticism. The combination of certain factors – for example diversification of urban audiences, digitalization, changes in aesthetic demands etc. – raises questions of institutional legitimacy and thus a certain state of crisis. Opera houses develop systematic strategies to counter these kinds of transformative powers on the one hand and the related fundamental institutional criticism on the other: Oper Dortmund for example established Germany’s first so called Bürgeroper (citizen opera). It is a participative project to introduce a more diverse audience to opera and to integrate it directly into the creative process of a production.

Statistics indicate that every fifth resident in Germany has immigration status or a migratory background. Dortmund as a city with its highly diverse population is not being represented accordingly neither in the audience nor on management level. The new opera manager and his team considered this discrepancy as virulent and applied for a government program called 360° – Fund for Cultures of a New Urban Society. The aim of this program is to install “agents for intercultural opening” who are tasked with promoting cultural diversity within the program, personnel and audience of cultural institutions. One of these agents is now directing Dortmund’s Bürgeroper.

This paper will elaborate on this unique participative project. It will try to find a common goal between the agenda of cultural policy and everyday practice of musical theatre within the context of urban society. What measures are being developed to diversify as an institution, while also making a contribution to an intercultural and open society? How can these requirements be realized with the structural and aesthetic requirements of an opera house?


Closing stages, claiming the city: From 100˚ to Performing Arts Festival Berlin
Benjamin Hoesch, M.A.

Since 2016, the annual Performing Arts Festival (PAF) presents in a six-day time span more than 140 shows at over 70 venues in Berlin’s theatres, galleries, cafés, and public spaces. What might appear as the rampant expansion of a cultural initiative is in fact a strategic development in cultural policy. As anyone familiar with PAF’s predecessor knows, from 2003-2015 the four main locations of independent theatre opened their stages to anyone who signed up on time for the 100˚ Festival. It culminated in a final presentation of more than 120 uncurated shows – on only five stages – in an off-theatre “marathon”. For the new festival, the organizers invited all theatres in Berlin to participate, with the main program on the renowned stages now being meticulously selected and curated. Whereas for 100˚ Festival artists from all over Europe poured into the city to present their work, residence in Berlin is now a precondition for eligibility to the program.

The shift from 100˚ to PAF as discussed in this paper combines the spatial and organizational expansion with a conscious curatorial limitation, rendering the case study ambivalent to the common understanding of urbanism: The city does not absorb all external impulses unconditionally, but gains identity of its cultural institutions by limiting the access of outside players while simultaneously dissolving internal boundaries.

In fact, both festivals were understood by the organizers not as showcases of latest international theatre trends to a general urban public, but rather as a celebration of the local independent theatre scene. Although no longer promising access to big stages for everyone, the new structure of PAF seems to work better as a festival for the artists – who in fact make up for a good part of Berlin’s population. For the liminal time of the festival, they can symbolically and spatially retake the whole city as their stage.


Performing (in) Berlin – The Performing Arts as Co-Producers and Reflection of the City´s Development and History
Anja Quickert, M.A.

Since 2008, the Hauptstadt-Marketing GmbH has been promoting the image of the city with the slogan “Be Berlin”. It refers to the city as a place of inventive self-realization, be it as a tourist destination or as a hub of creative industries. Nevertheless, the crowding-out effect originating in Berlin’s new centre continues to threaten the basis of this very cultural capital: the existence of parts of the independent arts scene.

Since 1989 the independent performing arts community especially has inscribed itself into the city of Berlin with its site-specific work and has thus co-written the history and development of many Berlin locations like no other artistic community. It has performed and continues to do so in alternative urban spaces such as former cemetery chapels, workers’ quarters, factory buildings, Jewish orphanages, or embassies. These theatrical explorations have created spaces of experience for the most diverse social milieus as they staged places and their histories that had long since disappeared from collective memory. In this way, the independent performing arts community is Berlin's liveliest city archive.

This paper provides a brief outline of the history of the performing arts in Berlin and their connections with urban spaces in the city since the German reunification. It will be argued that this close interdependence is the basis for the unique situation of Berlin´s urban and cultural development. Inquiring into the shifts in Berlin’s theatre landscape, which included the founding of the Performing Arts Festival in Berlin in 2016, the paper will show how the current situation of the independent scene in the context of urban development and the associated discourses must be understood as one of crisis.