3rd International Symposium on Cultural Outreach – a retrospective

What can cultural outreach do?

On 27th and 28th January 2017 more than 220 interested individuals and experts in the fields of cultural outreach, culture management and cultural studies took part in the 3rd International Symposium on Cultural Outreach at Festspielhaus St. Pölten.

This year there was a new host, NÖKU-Kulturvermittlung, previously known as the Lower Austria Cultural Outreach Network and also new cooperation partners. For the first time the two day symposium was organized together with the Institute for Cultural Politics at the University of Hildesheim. 

That’s what cultural outreach can do!

Themes discussed ranged from the techniques, opportunities and needs of community building, urban development in the cultural sphere and the social responsibilities of cultural outreach work. 

The keynote speech by Birgit Mandel of Hildeshiem University bridged the gap between an attempt to define the concept of “cultural outreach” and the topic of community building which has grown organically into a main theme: the venue as a potential space and participation (and with it a sense of investment) as a starting point for creating communities. Cultural outreach, is in Mandels’s words, “a function that creates relationships between institutions, artists, current and potential visitors and between (partial) publics.”

In his lecture Lutz Liffers from the Bremen initiative Kultur vor Ort e.V. and on his own admission “not a cultural outreach worker himself” placed community building in the context of urban development in the cultural sphere, highlighting in particular the challenges of globalized city districts. Here Liffers underlined the linked status of analogue and digital spaces (or their use) by asking the audience: “Turn on your phones, then this will be real.”
Anne Graswinckel from the Friesian theatre company TRYATER spoke about stories and their unlimited possibilities. Stories facilitate truthfulness, encounters, understanding and non-competitive participation, offer inspiration and help to break down walls of all kinds, according to the Dutch theatremaker. 

Gerald Huber-Weiderbauer broke down barriers through artistic outreach work with his returning symposium choir with which the conference delegates found themselves participating in rituals of singing in chorus at the beginning and end of each day.

Community building was not only discussed but lived in a congenial living room atmosphere and in six artistic-practical workshops – ranging from dance and design thinking to game design.  Returning groups brought project presentations and best practice back with them to the podium discussions and round tables.

NÖKU-Kulturvermittlung and co-editor Susanne Wolfram presented their first joint publication as part of the symposium: ‘Cultural Outreach Today. International Perspectives’. Published by the transcript Verlag, this anthology is available now.

The 4th International Symposium will be held on 1st and 2nd February 2019.
Further information can be found at www.kulturvermittlung.net


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fsh_symposium17-6136.jpg.jpg alle Fotos: © David Visnjic

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