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Sommerwerft 2020 - Frankfurt's first events with 800 visitors

23.08.2020 | 13:13 Clock | Culture
Sommerwerft 2020 - Frankfurt's first events with 800 visitors

Due to the constantly increasing Corona infections, stricter rules have now been issued again, whereby events may only take place with a maximum of 250 guests again for the time being. That it is worthwhile to fight collectively for the numbers to go down again and the restrictions to be relaxed, has recently just the summer shipyard 2020 impressively proven. Whether at the Weseler Werft or on the road in the districts and the region - the team of protagon e.V. has made it possible to experience how socially relevant theatre and the performing arts are through this somewhat different kind of summer shipyard. The fact that the Sommerwerft could take place at all with up to 800 visitors at a time is also thanks to the hygiene and infection control concept of AES Konzept, which has proven: Even larger events are possible without degenerating into potential super-spreader events.

It can be assumed that the Sommerwerft 2020, which took place from July 24 to August 9, was probably the largest cultural event in the Rhine-Main region this pandemic summer. protagon e.V., partners and sponsors have reaped praise and thanks for their commitment, creativity and performances, but revenues fell fatally due to the pandemic.

Nevertheless, the conclusion to the limited edition and mobile version of the Summer Wharf offerings must be seen as positive from a cultural perspective alone: 15.000 visitors came to the eastern bank of the river Main on eleven days, 500 to 800 visitors at a time with functioning and consistently observed infection control and hygiene measures. Residents in Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Hanau, Offenbach and Gießen were inspired to experience culture through scenic journeys. Some neighbourhoods were even motivated by the mobile offers to create cultural offers on site themselves under pandemic rules.

In the end, there are more costs than revenues for the association, and that is of course a disaster, but the Sommerwerft has shown: theatre culture in public space and concepts for performing arts can be shaped in real terms if offices and authorities are open to new possibilities. And this is of immense importance due to the fact that Corona will be with us for a long time to come. Everyone involved has gone above and beyond in this "feat of strength" to be able to carry out the festival safely under pandemic conditions, and with the implementation and the elaborated concept of AES Konzept and antagon TheaterAKTtion have now created templates for further cultural projects.

"We saw ourselves in the responsibility to show what performing arts can do, especially that theater is understood as relevant to society," explains Bernhard Bub, who as artistic director has developed and realized content for summer shipyards twice this year as part of the team. He has lived in Frankfurt's East for 30 years in the theatre collective antagon TheaterAKTion with local and international artists. "We are not on the road for art per se," he continues, "but define our theatre concept in direct connection and confrontation with social processes as a living and working community. It's been part of the concept since the beginning, which pays off in this crisis situation. It is a model that has a special position in the genre and counteracts where (theatre) culture is created in a commercialised and market-oriented way, wants to develop academicised concepts in the direction of aestheticising art. For the makers of Sommerwerft have sought creative paths outside institutional restrictions and current conditions. The strength from our point of view, that of a free theatre scene, is: to make freer action possible with freer thinking. We have managed to produce a great deal with quite little."

This collective concept allowed the ensemble to continue producing culture without restriction, even in the run-up to the Sommerwerft. That is why the Association of Friends and Supporters of Free Theatre Culture very consciously made the decision to submit funding applications for new, alternative models for this challenging time.

In addition to respect, joy and motivation from participants, visitors* and the neighborhood, there were a handful of critical voices claiming a right to the public space as a resting place and the unobstructed view from the condominium on the Main. For the neighborhood, and to stimulate as discussion in the city, protagon e.V. has now distributed a second letter in the aftermath of the summer yard in addition to the annual information letter for residents. Here's how one passage reads:

"Living in a city comes with conditions that everyone has to deal with openly: Housing versus public space, need for quiet versus social culture. Unlike rural areas, living in the city, we share with many limited space that we have together. We want to use the public space on the Main and design it together for the urban society. This is also a social initiative that accepts diversity and respects diversity. . There are people who call us out of place. But we work for culture in the city, for a shared, respectful life. An application for an injunction, including a court hearing, was dismissed in the local and regional courts because the conditions for the event were met and the judge considered the Sommerwerft to be "socially relevant". This confirms our work, that heart and soul that many leave here. Leaving is not an option for us."

Protagon e.V. wants to stimulate a discussion about the understanding of public space and its use for the urban population. Parks, squares, streets and riverbanks in Frankfurt am Main are increasingly privatized, commercialized or restricted. Social developments, from Opernplatz to Rechtsruck, make it clear that citizens are disappointed. Instead of increasing division, the cultural association would like to focus on a togetherness of the population. Therefore, it is important to maintain free space for society and to be able to shape it in a socially acceptable way. Because: Where is the space in the city for social gathering for all people? Especially for those who have neither garden nor much space, because of them the association continues to stand up for a right to public space and lively culture. Protagon feels confirmed with this experience by this year's Sommerwerft - Theaterkultur am Fluss and Sommerwerft mobil, that spaces for performing arts are certainly producible, that this does not necessarily have to be renounced.

What remains is a Sommerwerft that continues online, so to speak. At the moment, all evenings of theatre performances, dance productions and other documentaries can still be viewed on Vimeo. The number of users was low during the Summer Throw, but is now increasing daily in the aftermath. So if you want, you can experience the Summer Wharf 2020 online. Regardless of time and place.

And if you want to experience more theatre and culture with well-functioning infection control and hygiene measures, come to the 4th International Women's Theatre Festival of protagon e.V. together with the Magdalena Project and other partners from 24 to 27. September 2020:


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