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Statement by Bernhard Günther, Artistic Director of Wien Modern

Geht's der Musik gut, geht's uns allen gut

Geht's der Musik gut, geht's uns allen gut

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From the 3rd to the 30th November 2020, all events in Austria are prohibited by law. Wien Modern will operate as planned until then, under the existing strict and government-approved safety measures. From the coming week onward, we are making every effort for public accessibility of the productions that were planned over the past months and years, on broadcast or on the internet. New information will follow as soon as possible. Owners of event tickets will be contacted without delay to discuss reimbursements, and optionally, vouchers or donation options.

As a festival, like we have during the past few months, we are working hard on an analysis of the current legal situation and to check, in every individual case with all partners and artists, how we can possibly realise which planned productions in which form to make them publicly accessible despite everything. This includes potential broadcasts or live-streams of concerts over the next four weeks, postponements to a later date, and also formats which might be realisable in a modified way, analogous to, for example, the opening times of businesses.

We are thankful for constructive signals from various partner institutions such as the ORF and RSO Wien, as well as the City Councillor for Culture and the office of the Vice Chancellor. We have great respect for the artists, some of whom have spent months working on the concerts of the coming four weeks, as well as for the audience, which has shown us unbroken interest and solidarity. We stand for our responsibility as a cultural institution to help solve the current situation. However, we also consider a basic supply of culture to be an infinitely valuable asset, and will do what we can over the next few weeks to save this.

Statement by Bernhard Günther, Artistic Director of Wien Modern

I assume the Federal Government knows what it means to turn crucial economic sectors of this country down to 0% for the second time. In Austria, culture is a sector with over 100 000 official workers, which doesn't include the immense dark figure of people in precarious employment situations, and the enormous effects that culture has on the stability of tourism, gastronomy, transportation, commerce, education and science, not to mention its contribution to the stability of countless individual people. The atmosphere in this sector at the moment makes one thing clear: to ensure that culture isn't viewed as a victim of public health, winter tourism in the mountains and the Christmas business, new signals are desperately needed. It is also clear that a captain has to try to evade an iceberg at all costs, but now, he must do everything to make sure that the ship doesn't run aground on the other side.

The pandemic can last many more months, and this virus might not be the last. The cultural sector is among those areas of society which were widely recognised as being pioneers and examples when it came to the development of sustainable safety measures. Highly complex prevention concepts and the best contact tracing thus contributed the least to the spread of the pandemic, but now due to the new measures, culture is in danger; urgently and also in the long run. This is nothing other than a financial and existential crisis of the "Cultural Nation" of Austria.

The cultural sector has spent decades of austerity tolerating enormous financial pressure and widespread precariat. I now urge everyone, truly everywhere, from the big institutions to the free scene, across all artistic and stylistic fields, to make a strict calculation and to put on the table how much culture truly costs. For months, the government has been expecting extremely elegant reactions to the most brutal red pens and the sharpest scalpels. For months, the cultural sector has done everything in its responsibility to master all these tasks and to accomplish the most impossible things. In the current extreme situation, the cultural sector has to expect the government to follow this sledgehammer blow with the necessary steps, unbureaucratically, substantially, and quickly.