[spectre] Maschine brennt / Up in smoke

Maschine brennt emonk at eliot.priv.at
Mon Apr 14 14:05:15 CEST 2008

Maschine brennt / Up in Smoke
Statement on the current culture-political situation in Linz from the  
Freie Szene, the independent art scene of Linz
What does culture need?
To foster culture, in which art and culture can be made, received,  
lived, stimulated and stimulating, certain conditions must be met.  
These conditions include time ? free from the compulsions of  
production, to exchange, to reflect, to let ideas evolve ? and space,  
where people can come together, try things out, implement ideas and  
continue to develop these ideas and themselves. The Capital of Culture  
year would be an opportunity to explore possibilities for creating  
these conditions, but this opportunity is rapidly dwindling now. Those  
responsible for Linz09 show little interest in structural solutions,  
and political decision-makers are insufficiently aware of their  
responsibilities in this context.
Linz is moving quickly in the direction of the Capital of Culture year  
2009. Yet the expected positive mood of anticipation is hardly to be  
found among the political decision-makers, even less among those who  
work in art and culture in Linz. Linz09 is losing ground, the mood has  
tipped. Especially in the field of independent art and cultural work,  
scepticism and even rejection are becoming increasingly more evident.
The Cultural Development Plan of the city of Linz, the draft paper of  
the Cultural Guidelines of the Federal Province of Upper Austria, and  
particularly the bid proposal for the European Capital of Culture all  
emphasize the importance of the Freie Szene, the independent art scene  
of Linz. Yet this emphasis in not to be found in the current  
development of the program for Linz09, nor within the framework of  
cultural policy priorities. Instead, the Freie Szene is sweepingly  
discredited as lacking internationality and quality. The response from  
the Linz09 direction through the media is targeted disparagement and  
ignorance. Inciting heated emotions with purposely provocative  
messages, such as racist comparisons with simple ?natives? who don?t  
understand how a camera works, for example, may well yield the  
publicity that Linz09 apparently seeks, but ?friction? by itself does  
not effect changes. Nor does a vibrant cultural life consist solely of  
finished ?products?, whether in the form of tangible art works and  
events, or as ?projects? that are presented in a managable process of  
application, budgeting, carrying out, evaluating. Major gaps in the  
programming of Linz09 are manifested in a disregard for the critical,  
self-critical, innovative, experimental, tried and proven potential of  
the local scene. There is no reaction to this from the political side.  
The management of Linz09 judges the Freie Szene primarily according to  
neoliberal, quantifiable, marketable criteria. This negates the  
continual foundational work that the Freie Szene has been doing for  
years under precarious working conditions. Aiming for (re-) utilizable  
products and events to promote tourism overlooks the processual  
character of independent, autonomous cultural work. Independent  
cultural work provides society with reflection and continually sets  
accents to further develop this reflection. The Linz09 management?s  
neoliberal fixation on products contradicts the concerns and the  
self-understanding of the Freie Szene. The role and the great  
importance of the Freie Szene cannot be defined in this context with  
simple city image marketing. With ongoing cultural and artistic work  
over the past decades, the Freie Szene has provided important impulses  
for the city of Linz that go far beyond merely superficial  
representation and image effects. Without this valuable qualitative  
work from the Linz cultural scene, the city?s bid for Linz as European  
Capital of Culture would certainly have lost much of its force.

For these reasons, not least of all, the importance of the Freie Szene  
was also anchored in the Cultural Development Plan (CDP) of the City  
of Linz accordingly:

?The city of Linz sees itself as a city of culture for everyone with a  
emphasis on technology, new media, open spaces, and the alternative  
scene.? (CDP, p. 7)
?As a cultural city Linz is committed to the material safeguarding of  
culture and the
arts by means of an appropriate increase in the culture budget in the light of
prevailing conditions.? (CDP, p. 15)
?In order to motivate the large pool of artistic talent from the  
independent scene to
remain in Linz, the funding of this sector must be increasingly  
effective, long-term
and consistent.? (CDP, p. 8)
?The City of Linz sees the creation of space and effective open  
structures in the art and culture
scene as an important target of its funding policy.? (CDP, p. 12)
?Provision of ?risk capital? for innovative art and culture projects (making
experimentation and creative development possible).? (CDP, p. 12)
?To complement existing funding authorities the City of Linz proposes  
that it should set up a
fund jointly with the province of U.A. to promote artistic projects of  
specially innovative or
experimental value.? (CDP, p. 13)
?Expansion of the Artist- and Scientist-in-Residence Programmes.? (CDP, p. 13)
?Providing well thought-out and lasting support for the central  
cultural focus on technology, new media, open space, culture for  
everyone and the alternative scene.? (CDP, p. 7)

In other words, the issue is:
?Sustainability specifically means an investment on the part of  
cultural policies and society in structures for culture, in education  
for people who do cultural work, in cultural and art education, and in  
know-how, so that the public is encouraged to engage with it.?  
(Klemens Pilsl, KAPU, 28 Nov. 2007)

A substantial number of those active in art and culture in Linz have  
meanwhile abandoned hope that Linz09 will take a sustainable  
direction. Of course, some traces of Linz09 will still be visible in  
2010 ? the construction sites and buildings. It seems as though the  
political decision-makers regard the year 2009 as a singular year out  
of time, with no before and no after. This seems to be the only  
explanation for the way sustainability is apparently to be established  
with buildings: cultural policies are measured in Linz in cubic meters  
of cement. In this way, the political decision-makers are fulfilling a  
large portion of the new buildings anchored in the Cultural  
Development Plan. Apart from there being no clear utilization and  
financing concepts for the creative use of the cultural sarcophagi  
after 2009, another pillar of the Cultural Development Plan, the Freie  
Szene, is thus not acknowledged as fundamental or worthy of support.
Linz09 could be regarded as a structurally sustainable urban  
development project. However, the developments of the past year have  
missed the framework that was set by political decision-makers and  
defined in both the bid for Capital of Culture and the Cultural  
Development Plan. The direction of Linz09 and cultural political  
developments have failed to take this framework into account. This  
disrespects not only those active locally in art and culture, but also  
the Linz City Council itself, since the Cultural Development Plan was  
unanimously ratified there.
There is currently no indication that the Capital of Culture year will  
be used by the political decision-makers of Linz to secure the  
precarious situation of local artists and cultural producers, much  
less to improve it. This has already been wholly unsuccessful in the  
preparations for the Capital of Culture year. It cannot yet be  
predicted, what the year 2010 will be like. Based on misguided  
developments, however, it is evident that the situation of the scene  
in Linz will be lastingly damaged by the Capital of Culture year,  
rather than strengthened by it.

Whereas political decision-makers were unwilling to anticipate the  
director?s decisions before Martin Heller was appointed director of  
Linz09, now it is said that there should be no ?political  
intervention? in the director?s decisions. This signals political  
indecisiveness that has appears ominous to the artists and cultural  
producers of Linz. When the director of Linz09 repeatedly stresses  
that he is only responsible for the year 2009, the result is a vacuum  
in responsibility for the years before and afterward. The Freie Szene  
is conscious of its political responsibility, but a serious discussion  
requires a partner that is also ?responsive?. What is at stake is no  
less than the viable future development and securement of existing and  
future artistic and cultural potentials in this city. This calls for  
political responsibility.

The basis for serious work is present in the motivated and talented  
people with creative and good ideas. What is missing are the means  
required to implement these ideas. These include:

? securing the budget for the Freie Szene in the years 2010ff
? financing structures instead of supporting projects
? doubling the budget for the funding program ?LINZimPULS?
? doubling the budget for the funding program ?LinzEXPOrt?
? creating a new funding program ?LinzIMPORT?
? evaluating the projects submitted to Linz09 according to parity criteria

- ? - ? - ? - ? -?

Linz, April 2008

Addressed to:
Mayor Dr. Franz Dobusch
Vice-Mayor City Councilor Dr. Erich Watzl
City Senate and City Council of the City of Linz
Office Linz Culture
Governor Dr. Josef Pühringer
Department of Culture of the Federal Province of Upper Austria
Linz 2009 ? Kulturhauptstadt Europas OrganisationsGmbH.

For the information of:
Cultural Advisory Board of the City of Linz
Cultural Advisory Board of the Federal Province of Upper Austria

This statement was prepared by the Open Forum Freie Szene and is  
supported by the following initiatives:

Art Base M
Crossing Europe Filmfestival
Donauschule Linz
FIFTITU% ? Network for Women in Art and Culture Upper Austria
IFEK ? Institute for Expanded Art
Kulturplattform OÖ ? Cultural Platform Upper Austria
KV sunnseitn
KV Treibsand
Linzer Frühling ? Literatur und so
maiz ? Autonomous Center of & for Migrant Women
Radio FRO
Social Impact
SPACEfemFM Frauenradio
Theater Phönix
Time?s Up
Wunderkinder KG

In addition to the initiatives named here and the numerous people  
active in them, this statement is also supported by many individuals  
active in art and culture in Linz. To name only a few, these are  
represented by: Franz Fend, Gerhard Dirmoser, Astrid Esslinger, Andi  
Wahl, Petar Radisavljevic, Rudolf Pointinger.

Contact address: maschinebrennt at servus.at

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