Change through Culture through Change

Artistic director: Karl-Heinz Blomann
Project manager: Ralf Schumacher
Project coordination: Emschergenossenschaft
Project idea: Karl-Heinz Blomann, Dr. Arnold Voss, Ralf Schumacher

Project description:

The development of the new Emscher valley is unique on the European scale. Major international cities such as Amsterdam, Lille and London are also working on enhancing the attractiveness of residential areas close to the water. In the meantime, exchange of experience and mutual consultation have led to the establishment of a closely meshed network. The regular exchanges of ideas on the local authority level and presentation of the results in regional forums set an example worthy of imitation within the European Union. In that context, it is of especial importance for ordinary citizens to be involved more closely in planning processes and in this way given the opportunity to contribute to the sustainable development of the environment right outside their front doors. The “Emscher-Zukunft” master plan is therefore being co-financed with the aid of various projects under the auspices of the InterReg IIIB structural aid fund, as an exemplary venture in the European context. Apart from the aspect of involving local citizens, the development of previously neglected locations is also considered worthy of promotion by the European Union.

The transformation of the region to which the Emscher conversion provides impetus is not only influenced by the values and philosophies of the people planning and implementing it, but it will also, in reverse, change the attitudes and behaviour of those affected by the associated material and non-material consequences.

The “emscher:reloaded” venture picks up this socio-cultural aspect of the Emscher conversion as a central theme and aims to deal with it artistically in various cultural projects.

The central message of the Cultural Capital application, “Change through Culture”, is understood here in the reverse direction and at the same time as a reciprocal interaction, as “Culture through Change”, capable of combining the region’s past and future in a special way and thus reinforcing its identity. In the light of the burdens and drawbacks of the structural change in the economy to which this region in particular was subjected in recent decades and will continue to be in the near future, the forward-looking side of the project must be emphasized. The culture of innovation, of individual and collective creativity and preparedness to take risks is to be linked in the development of the new Emscher valley with the tradition of neighbourly solidarity also rooted in this part of the region, so as to make them applicable to and conjoin them with other aspects of current and future change.

The history and future of migration and immigration and the various other European and intercontinental influences on the Ruhr area and the Emscher zone play an important part in this context. Art, as a non-linguistic and supra-linguistic form of individual and collective aesthetic expression, and also as a manifestation of social identities, is, as “crossculture”, to address the productive conflict between cultures and their mutual penetration or overlapping. With consideration to our twin Cultural Capitals Pécs and Istanbul, immigrants from eastern and southern Europe and Turkey will be at the centre of this intercultural dialogue.

The three pillar plan

The project consists of three complementary parts which focus in different ways on change in the Emscher valley.

The Emscher Path of Cultures is already enshrined as an idea in the “Emscher-Zukunft” master plan, with a perspective extending far beyond the Cultural Capital year. This part of the project is to focus on the multicultural and intercultural aspects of the Emscher valley as a past and future immigration area. The planned “ethnic milestones” along the Emscher path are also to be established by the Cultural Capital year to reflect the region’s background of migration from eastern Europe and Turkey.

The established and internationally acclaimed “open systems” festival will approach the Emscher conversion with its artists focusing on and interpreting the river and its renewed transformation (“emscher:reloaded”) as an open system itself. Artists from eastern Europe and Turkey in particular will provide for the cross-culture effect together with other international and local musicians and performers.

The Emscher Salon is to be established as a forum accompanying the project, providing a cultural form of debate on the Emscher conversion and therefore combining cognitive and rational elements with the emotional and playful forms of art.

All three projects are to come together in 2010.

Culture and Sustainability

emscher:reloaded” has extremely close geographical and thematic links with the Emscher conversion. The technical conversion of the Emscher valley is itself a project which represents sustainability par excellence. Its artistic treatment and reflection in cultural events will also have their own long-term effects on the region:

We estimate that a budget of 5.5 million euros will be required to achieve these effects.

"The Emscher Path is the linear and permanent; that which settles into the landscape. The Festival is the temporary situation, the superimposed, the non-permanent. The Salon is the flowing, mediating and communicative. It too will not remain, but similarly to the festival will generate an effect in minds, thoughts and feelings, and leave memories in those who participate."


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