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 193 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.


Kultur ist kein Sahnehäubchen . Warum wir Theater, Kino und Buchhandlungen jetzt sofort öffnen müssen
Culture is not icing on the cake . Why we need to open theaters, cinemas and bookstores right now

by Alexander Skipis (23 Feb 2021)
Original source: FAZ

Applying the concept of catharsis introduced by Aristotle in his Poetics, Alexander Skipis, Chief Executive of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, goes back very far in cultural history to describe the impact of the pandemic on the population. The release of strong feelings through reflection and witnessing in art and literature is only possible to a very limited extent during the lockdown. Even as policymakers attempt to compensate for the economic losses suffered by cultural producers, they fail to provide the consumer relief functions paraphrased by t he term catharsis. Skipis therefore combines his plea for the rapid opening of cultural institutions and bookstores with a warning about the mental damage to society that the pandemic has already triggered and the extent of which cannot yet be foreseen.

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tag Lockdown Systemrelevanz Katharsis
All sections Kommentar

Ein Jahr ohne Werke . Was es für das Musikleben bedeutet, wenn Verlage um ihr Überleben kämpfen
A year without pieces . What it means for musical life when publishing houses fight for their survival

by Merle Krafeld (03 Feb 2021)
Original source: VAN Magazin für klassische Musik

Music publishers play an important role in the cultural ecosystem. Not only do they promote the work of composers, but they also produce well thought-out sheet music in individual parts, ensure good binding quality of the sheet music and produce new editions of historical works. To do this, they conduct study of sources and work with scientific precision. The publishers therefore generate income not only from the sale of sheet music, but above all from the lending of scores of mostly copyrighted works to orchestras and choirs. The rental fees are made up of various facto rs such as the length and instrumentation of the work, the number of performances and seats available for sale. Last year, the turnover from rental fees for music publishers collapsed by up to 80 per cent. In addition to lending fees, publishers and rights holders also lost income from distributions by the German Performing Rights Society (GEMA) and foreign collecting societies as well as the German Music Edition Society (VG Musikedition). Since royalties are usually only paid out in the following year, the loss of income will not be felt until 2021. Publishers who specialise in choral music are also particularly affected, as it is not foreseeable here when rehearsals can be resumed. In the lockdown, only the purchase of individual parts and chamber music with small ensembles boomed. Henle-Verlag, which serves this segment with an app, among other things, is the only publishing house that recorded an increase in turnover in 2020.
As long as there is no planning security in the cultural sector, the sale and rental of sheet music will not increase. The staff of the publishing houses are therefore currently on short-time work and at the same time working flat out to offer works with a small line-up.
Many publishers are currently falling through the cracks of the aid payments because they are either too small or too big. The Neustart Kultur programme can compensate for turnover losses from the rental sector, but only 30 per cent of the lost turnover from April to November 2020, against which aid already received, such as short-time allowance, must be offset. So in the end, the aid is just a drop in the ocean.

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tag Musikverlage GEMA Planungssicherheit Chormusik Leihverkehr Kurzarbeit Neustart Kultur
Music 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

Diese Entscheidung trifft die Falschen . Shutdown für Kultureinrichtungen
This decision affects the wrong people . Shutdwon for cultural institutions

by Maria Ossowski (29 Oct 2020)
Original source: rbb24

Not only lack of understanding, but above all anger is great among all creative artists and culture enthusiasts in Germany. For one month, all facilities have to close, despite the fact that sophisticated hygiene concepts have made them the safest places to be during the pandemic. Maria Ossowski - herself a member of the high-risk group, by the way - feels at home there and in her commentary sums up the lack of understanding: Because the governments have not been able to get a grip on the infection and especially on party culture, culture must now pay for it again.  So this measures sound the death knell for many smaller cultural institutions.
Ossowski derives why culture cannot be an exception from the following three points: First, politics is currently populist, driven and relies on no studies. Secondly, it is assumed that artists do not fight back, but rather hire themselves from the nearest supermarket out of existential need. Thirdly, many retailers and businesses will not survive the crisis, so why should the gross value added in the cultural industry be taken into account?
In this way, the importance of culture is being trampled underfoot not only for the individual, but for our entire society.

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tag Existenzrelevanz Lebensrelevanz November-Lockdown Partykultur Hygienekonzepte Infektionsketten
All sections Kommentar

Kultur in Krisenzeiten: Mit Vernunft!
Culture in times of crisis: With reason!

by Axel Brüggemann (27 Oct 2020)
Original source: SWR 2

Where is the trust in current cultural policy? Axel Brüggemann focuses on this question in his commentary on the situation of the theatres in Germany. Despite various series of events accompanied by scientists, in which no infection with corona could be proven, the theaters and other cultural organizers are currently the victims of the political wobble. They can no longer see any sense in the regulations: With only 50 visitors left, as the current corona regulation in Bavaria stipulates when the incidence value of 100 infected persons per 100,000 inhabitants is exce eded, even a highly subsidized house is facing ruin. After some artistic directors had already resisted the closure of their houses during the spring with little success, a final rebellion of cultural workers seems to be taking place. That is dangerous. On the one hand, the cultural workers will look for other platforms, which may also be made available by corona deniers. On the other hand, the stages are important places for democratic discourse and fact-based debate. They are thought leaders, experimental fields and innovative institutions. If they can only play the play »Struggle for Survival«, then not only do they no longer fulfil their function, but they also fight on behalf of our open and enlightened society.
And if it should become unavoidable to close the theaters, Brüggemann demands that they be given another platform for discourse. Free streaming not only lacks the appreciation of artistic work, but is also not the right format for discussion in an open-minded society.


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tag Theater Hygieneregeln Bühne als Diskursraum Streaming Inzidenzwert Wertschätzung
Performing Arts/ Cinema Kolumne

Bayerische Theater entsetzt über neue Corona-Regeln
Bavarian theaters appalled by new corona regulations

by Christoph Leibold (22 Oct 2020)
Original source: BR24

Following the announcement last week in North Rhine-Westphalia of a limit on the number of spectators for theaters due to rising corona infections, Bavaria is now following suit. Bavarian State Premier Markus Söder announced that regardless of the size of a house, when an incidence rate of 100 infections per 100,000 inhabitants is reached, only 50 participants will be allowed to attend a cultural event.
In Bavaria's theaters, the outcry is great. Up to now, the rules of distance have been generously adhered to, and every house has a well-developed hygiene concept. In Bavaria, too, there are no infectious diseases among visitors to cultural events. Instead of recognizing this success, the new decree destroys it. Those involved in culture accuse the State Chancellery of not having gained an impression of the situation in the houses so far. Even the »representatives of the cultural scene« apparently involved in the decision could not be identified so far. No director of the large Bavarian theaters was asked to comment. So it is not surprising that the director of the Kammerspiele, Barbara Mundel, accuses the state premier of »purely symbolic politics« at the expense of the cultural institutions. For these institutions, the new decree is tantamount to a new lockdown. Another aspect that Mundel addresses should not be forgotten in the current situation: Theater and other open spaces of art offer the opportunity for exchange and reflection. This is the place to reflect on the consequences of the Corona crisis for our society.

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tag Theater Inzidenzwert Hygieneregeln Bayern Markus Söder
Performing Arts/ Cinema Bericht

»Die virtuelle Welt hilft uns leider nicht« . Star-Geigerin Anne-Sophie Mutter über Corona
»Unfortunately the virtual world does not help us at all« . Star violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter on Corona

by Anne-Sophie Mutter, Gero Schließ (20 Oct 2020)
Original source: Deutsche Welle

Already in the summer, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and her colleagues wrote an open letter calling for support from the society for musicians. Now she is using the Opus Klassik award to draw attention to the precarious situation of many artists in the Corona crisis. In an interview with Deutsche Welle, she once again expresses her position. She herself is doubly affected by the pandemic. Not only are most of her concerts cancelled for 2020, but in March she had to cancel her tour because she herself had fallen ill with the corona virus.
The violinist reacts with incomprehension to the current actions of politics. At concerts and cultural events, there are extremely strict rules of hygiene, while in restaurants people are allowed to celebrate without distance. The fact that this not only discriminates against a single profession, but also against a high-turnover industry and thus the entire German cultural landscape is on the verge of collapse, hurts her very much. She does not want her concerns to be understood as criticism of the work of the Minister of State for Culture, with whom she is in close contact. Rather, she hopes for new aid measures for all solo self-employed people in the cultural industry so that it can be saved through the crisis. If this does not happen, the industry must raise its voice in demonstrations.
For Mutter, there is no question that art and culture are important as sources of consolation, especially in times of crisis. To rely on streaming as self-exploitation of artists in this time is no solution for society as a whole. Even if concerts are currently taking place, the musicians usually play without a part of their fee, since they usually give two concerts each in front of a hall that is at most half full. Mutter suggests that one should follow the example from Salzburg, where with the chessboard pattern and consistent testing the festival could be carried out as usual. The gratitude of the audience, which she experienced in autumn, shows her how important music is during a crisis.

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tag Klassik Streaming Schachbrettmuster Salzburger Festspiele Honorar Gleichbehandlung Monika Grütters
Music Interview

Kleine und mittlere Theater sind existenziell bedroht . Corona-Maßnahmen in NRW
Small and medium-sized theaters are existentially threatened . Corona measures in North Rhine-Westphalia

by Marc Grandmontagne, Marietta Schwarz (15 Oct 2020)
Original source: Deutschlandfunk Kultur

A decree of the Ministry of Health severely limits the number of participants for events in North Rhine-Westphalia. With immediate effect, only 250 participants or a maximum of 20 percent capacity are permitted. This decree will hit the venues hard at the beginning of the season, as the complete events now have to be rescheduled. Smaller venues, such as the Kommödchen in Düsseldorf, have already announced that they will close again for the time being. The head of the German Stage Association, Marc Grandmontagne, considers the decree to be completely misguided. So far, no infection in a theater is known. All houses have a thoroughly worked out hygiene concept. Due to the modern ventilation technology in the large houses, the danger of infection is minimal. Up to now, under these circumstances it would have been possible in NRW to seat 100 percent of the seats. Since the audience currently still wants a safe distance, 50 percent of the seats were usually occupied. So there is no objective reason for the new decree.
The Ministry of Culture in NRW has not yet issued a statement on the decree. Grandmontagne is calling for better coordination between the players. Since the Ministry of Culture supports the smaller houses in particular, he does not assume that the decree was coordinated in advance.
Grandmontagne is particularly concerned about the signal that the decree sends out to the cultural workers themselves. Tiredness and exhaustion is noticeable in the industry. Not being able to carry out one's own profession normally in the long term has psychological consequences. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that the development of the pandemic is due to our own behavior. Here the cultural industry has been very consistent and responsible so far, and has gained a lot of experience. This whole experience can now serve as a basis for future strategies. 

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tag Theater NRW psychische Belastung Hygieneregeln Gesundheitsministerium
Performing Arts/ Cinema Gespräch

»Viele Kollegen von uns mussten Hartz IV beantragen«
»Many of our colleagues had to apply for Hartz IV social security«

by Wiebke Eymess, Jörg Burger (23 Sep 2020)
Original source: Die Zeit

With 80 performances a year, the cabaret duo "Das Geld liegt auf der Fensterbank, Marie", consisting of Wiebke Eymess and Friedolin Müller in the time before Corona, were able to finance themselves well. Together with their two children, the couple lives in the countryside and therefore has very reduced running expenses. Nevertheless the Corona crisis was a shock. As the couple was fully booked for two years in advance, Wiebke Eymess reacted to the cancellations with a panic attack in March. It took time for her to adjust to the new situation. She describe d her feelings and fears in a blog. The fact that the German radio station SWR3 now prints them twice a week as a column helps the family make ends meet. In addition, donations from loyal fans and craftsmanship help them keep their heads above water. The state support they received from the emergency aid programs was minimal. Even if the public has the impression that a lot is being done for culture, hardly anything of it is trickling down to the people affected. Although the ban on employment is being eased somewhat at the moment, and the first theaters and event venues have reopened, one can speak of it more as a hobby than as a job, due to the minimal fees involved. Also the incautiousness of politicians in their choice of language can have devastating consequences. Health Minister Jens Spahn warned of events recently, but actually meant family celebrations. The consequence: ticket sales for cultural events collapsed abruptly.

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tag Kabarett Berufsverbot Kulturförderung Soforthilfe Panikattacke
Performing Arts/ Cinema Interview

»Vielen von uns droht die Supermarktkasse«
»Many of us are at risk to sit at the supermarket checkout«

by Heinz Rudolf Kunze (17 Sep 2020)
Original source: NDR Info

In an interview with the NDR, the German singer and songwriter Heinz Rudolf Kunze talks about his experiences during the Corona pandemic and the situation of the music industry. All the central topics of the discussion are addressed in the interview. The picture he draws is depressing. In the music industry, too, live performance is the most important source of income today. CDs are primarily produced to promote concerts. Kunze openly calls streaming an exploitation, because the musicians cannot finance themselves from the cents they receive. Even successful accompanying musicians can only survive the Corona crisis by working in other industries. Although open-air concerts could be held in the summer, the number of visitors was usually limited. In contrast to the adjacent gastronomy, the event industry has to fulfill strict hygiene requirements. Kunze doesn't mince his words when it comes to the regulations that vary from region to region. Here "little princes" are at work, who rule arbitrarily. In autumn and winter, no concerts are possible. His own tour has been postponed until spring; whether it can actually take place is written in the stars.
For the future Kunze hopes that the cultural industry will be recognized as an economic factor. At the same time, the cultural offer in Germany, which according to its perception is the largest in the world, must be maintained. This requires the prudent promotion by politics. Kunze equates the breaking away of this offer with the deforestation of the rainforest. Thus he chooses a very drastic picture for the danger in which he currently sees his industry.

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tag Popmusik Hygieneregeln Berufsverbot stiller Tod Streaming Konzerte
Music Interview



The signet of facing arts joining the faces of STORM.

Facing arts is a non-profi project. Feel free to support it and get in touch with us!

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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