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Maschine brennt -

Maschine brennt -

Statement of the independent scene Linz on the current cultural policy situation in Linz, April 2008

What does culture need?

In order to promote a culture in which art and culture can be made, received, lived, stimulated and inspiring, certain conditions are required. These conditions include time -- free from production constraints, to exchange ideas, to think, to develop thoughts -- and space where people can come together, try things out, implement ideas and develop them and themselves further. The Capital of Culture year would be an opportunity to try out the creation of such conditions, but this chance is increasingly disappearing. Those responsible for Linz09 show little interest in structural solutions and the political decision-makers are not sufficiently aware of their responsibilities in this context.

Linz is taking big steps towards the Capital of Culture year 2009. However, the expected positive mood ahead of the Capital of Culture year is not to be found among politicians and even less among Linz's arts and culture professionals. Linz09 is getting out of hand, the mood has changed. Particularly in the field of independent art and cultural work, skepticism and rejection are now clearly evident.

The importance of the independent scene is particularly emphasized in the City of Linz's cultural development plan as well as in the draft of the Upper Austrian cultural mission statement and, above all, in the application paper for the Capital of Culture. Neither the current orientation of the program for Linz09 nor the cultural policy priorities reflect this. On the contrary, the independent scene is denied internationality and accused of a general lack of quality. The media response on the part of the artistic directorate is deliberate discrediting and ignorance. The deliberately provocative reports, such as racist comparisons with simple "natives" who wouldn't understand how a camera works, may well fulfill the advertising purpose Linz09 was probably hoping for, but "friction" in itself doesn't bring about any changes. Nor does a vital cultural life consist exclusively of finished "products", whether in the form of tangible works of art and events or as "projects" that are presented in a manageable process of submission, budgeting, implementation and evaluation. There are major gaps in the programming of Linz09, especially when it comes to relying on the critical, innovative, experimentally tested and proven potential of the local scene. There has been no reaction from the political side.The independent scene is evaluated by the Linz09 artistic directorship primarily according to neoliberal, quantifiable, art market criteria. This negates the continuous development work that the scene has been doing for decades under precarious working conditions. Aiming for (re)usable products and tourism-promoting events misjudges the processual character of free, autonomous cultural work. Independent cultural work reflects on society and continuously sets the tone for its further development. The neoliberal product fixation of the Linz09 organizers contradicts the concerns and self-image of the independent scene

In this context, the role and great importance of the independent scene cannot be defined by simple city marketing. Through its continuous cultural and artistic work over the past decades, the independent scene has provided important impulses for the development of the city of Linz that go far beyond mere superficial representation and image effects. Without this high-quality work by Linz's cultural scene, the bid for Linz as European Capital of Culture would certainly have lost much of its impact.

It is not least for these reasons that the importance of the independent scene has been anchored in the City of Linz's Cultural Development Plan (CDP):

- "The City of Linz is committed to being a city of culture for all and to setting cultural policy priorities in the areas of technology and new media, open spaces and the independent scene." (KEP, p. 9)

- "As a city of culture, the City of Linz is committed to the material safeguarding of art and culture through a corresponding increase in the cultural budget adapted to the respective framework conditions." (CDP, p. 20)

- "In order to keep the great artistic potential of the independent scene in Linz in the future, the promotion of the independent scene must be continued and expanded consistently and effectively in the long term." (KEP, p. 10)

- "The City of Linz sees the creation of free spaces and effective, open structures in the arts and culture scene as an important goal of its funding policy." (KEP, p. 17)

- "Provision of 'risk capital' for innovative art and cultural projects (enabling experiments and creative developments)." (KEP, p. 17)

- "As a supplement to the existing funding bodies, it is proposed that the City of Linz and the Province of Upper Austria jointly set up a fund to promote particularly innovative and experimental art projects." (KEP, p. 18)

- "Expansion of artists and scientists-in-residence programs" (KEP, p. 18)

- "Consistent and sustainable promotion of the cultural focus areas of technology and new media, open spaces and culture for all and the independent scene." (KEP, p. 9)

It is therefore not least about:
"In concrete terms, sustainability means that cultural policy and society invest in structures for culture, in education for people who do cultural work and also invest in cultural and art education as well as know-how, so that the willingness of the population to engage with it is also promoted." (Klemens Pilsl, KAPU, 28.11.07)

Much of the art and culture scene in Linz has said goodbye to the hope that Linz09 will have a lasting impact. Admittedly, traces of Linz09 can be found all over the city in 2010 - the construction sites and buildings. It would appear that Linz's politicians regard 2009 as a singular year that has tipped out of time, with no before and no after. This is the only way to explain why sustainability is apparently to be achieved through buildings: Cultural policy in Linz is measured in cubic meters of concrete. Politics thus fulfills (itself) a good part of the new buildings anchored in the cultural development plan. Apart from the fact that there are no clear usage and financing concepts from politicians for the "use" of the cultural sarcophagi after 2009, another pillar of the cultural development plan, the independent scene, is neither recognized as sustainable nor worthy of support

Linz09 could therefore also be seen as a structurally sustainable urban development project. However, the framework set by politicians and laid down in both the Capital of Culture application paper and the cultural development plan has been missed by developments in recent years. Both the orientation of Linz09 and the development of cultural policy clearly fall short of this framework. This is an affront to local artists and cultural workers, but also to the Linz City Council itself, as the cultural development plan was unanimously approved by this body.

There are currently no signs that Linz's cultural policy is using the Capital of Culture year to structurally secure the precarious situation of local cultural and arts workers, let alone improve it. This has already failed completely in the run-up to the Capital of Culture. How the year 2010 will turn out is not foreseeable. However, it is clear from the undesirable developments that the Capital of Culture year is causing lasting damage to the situation of the Linz scene instead of strengthening it.

Whereas before Martin Heller's appointment it was said that the artistic director's decisions would not be prejudged, it is now said that the artistic director's decisions must not be "interfered with". Politicians are thus signaling a weakness in decision-making that is threatening to Linz's artists and cultural workers. When the Linz09 artistic director repeatedly emphasizes that he is responsible for the year 2009, this creates a vacuum of responsibility for the years before and after. The independent scene is aware of its political responsibility, but in order to be able to lead the debate it needs a counterpart who is also "approachable". After all, it is about sustainable development and securing existing and future artistic and cultural potential in the city. Politicians are called upon to take responsibility for this.CHALLENGES
Motivated and talented people with creative and good ideas already form the basis for serious work. However, the resources required to build on this foundation and turn ideas into reality are lacking.This includes:
-- Securing the budget for the independent scene in the years 2010ff
-- Structural funding instead of project funding
-- Doubling the endowment of the "LINZimPULS" funding program
-- Doubling the endowment of the "LinzEXPOrt" funding program
-- Creation of a new funding program "LinzIMPORT"
-- Determination of project submissions for Linz09 according to parity criteria

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Linz, April 2008

Sent to:
Mayor Dr. Franz Dobusch
Deputy City Councillor Dr. Erich Watzl
City Senate and City Council of the City of Linz
Linz Culture Office
Governor of the Province of Upper Austria Dr. Josef Pühringer
Members of the provincial government of Upper Austria
Provincial Department of Culture
Linz 2009 -- European Capital of Culture Organization GmbH
Members of the Supervisory Board of Linz 2009 GmbH

For information to:
Linz City Cultural Advisory Board
Cultural Advisory Board of Upper Austria

This statement was drawn up by the Open Forum for the Independent Scene and is supported by the following initiatives:

Art Base M
Crossing Europe Film Festival
Danube School Linz
FIFTITU% - Networking Center for Women in Art and Culture Upper Austria
IFEK - Institute for Extended Art
Upper Austrian Cultural Platform
KV sunnseitn
KV quicksand
Linzer Frühling - literature and stuff
maiz - Autonomous center by & for migrant women
Radio FRO
Social Impact
SPACEfemFM women's radio
Theater Phönix
Time's Up
Wunderkinder KG

In addition to the initiatives mentioned and the numerous people working in them, other individual artists and cultural professionals also support this statement. The following are mentioned as representatives: Franz Fend, Gerhard Dirmoser, Astrid Esslinger, Andi Wahl, Petar Radisavljevic, Rudolf Pointinger.