Heidelberg. New site, new logo: The Sixth Intergovernmental Conference of the Ministry for Science, Research and the Arts took place in Baden-Württemberg on Thursday at Karlstor Station in Heidelberg under the theme “Cultural Action Today: Diversity, Openness and Empowerment”. In cooperation with the Forum der Kulturen Stuttgart and the Center for Cultural Participation in Baden-Württemberg, aspects of the theme of diversity are discussed throughout the day on the platforms and in the workshops distributed throughout the Kulturhaus. Minister of State for Culture Petra Olschowski (Greens) was pleased to note the great response on the site, which emphasizes the importance of the topic: “I’ll take it with me.” Several hundred viewers were also able to follow the discussions in the Karlstorbahnhof’s event hall live on YouTube. The recording can be found here:
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Most of the day was moderated by Tübingen broadcaster, poet and comedian Sarah Kenter, who time and time again managed to soften the serious topic and cement it with her presence and spontaneity. However, at first, it allayed fears that she would deal with everyday Afro-Swabian life as she did on stage. Then she explained the innovations: there is a lot that is new – for example, the Center for Cultural Participation which was established in 2021 as a co-organizer is no longer up to date” – cheerful owl sounds from the hall
Following the words of welcome from Ministerial Director Claudia Rose Wolfgang Eriksson, who was proclaimed as “Heidelberg’s “Culture, Citizen Service and Creative Industries Mayor” and recognized as one of the recent events at the old Karlstor station as a “demolition event”, the keynote address came Diversity, Openness and Empowerment to Gagla Elk.
Staatliche Director Kunsthalle Baden-Baden reduced the complex issue to a central question: “How can we give more space to views across cultures that are not or are underrepresented in the majority society and thus make them more visible?” Problem with it is the interaction of different attitudes towards social inequality, in particular the intertwining of patriarchy and racism. US attorney Kimberly Crenshaw described the intersection of different forms of discrimination as intersectionality. According to Elk, many factors also interfere with culture: despite many efforts, only 50 percent of people in Germany take advantage of publicly funded cultural performances. Not only the people have to change here, but also the offerings of the institutions. They are still white and often male.
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“A long and often painful way”
The growing proportion of diverse identities is not adequately reflected in cultural offerings. But space is gradually given to new actors: “We did not leave reality alone, we supported it, challenged it and changed it.” It’s a long, often painful path, we’ve cleared and are still clearing many obstacles. “It is important to invite artists with increasingly multicultural approaches to develop and fund appropriate formats. The exchange of positions creates the basis for self-empowerment. Institutions can better help by focusing on the artists’ own resources. A space must be created for solidarity, not just to help.” By requests, it’s about power. It’s not about asking, it’s about asking. We must change the face of power itself.”
Then there were three parallel impulse events: Aisha Konatti and Tondi Adiviwe addressed the topic “Towards Care and Healing Spaces in Artistic and Cultural Contexts?” The focus here was on the needs of people with ethnically specific disabilities, LGBT people, and other marginalized groups in general. Postcolonial Memory in Art and Culture has been reviewed by Carla de Andrade Hearst and Christopher Nixon. With the core question: “How is the culture of remembrance and critique of racism and discrimination related? What structural changes are needed to decolonize art and culture?” Nenad Zubek and Juka Soloch research how class (social discrimination) and racism are intertwined in the cultural sector and prevent participation in performances.
“Be independent of ideas in ministries and offices”
Before lunch, Sarah Kenter moderated a conversation between Foreign Minister Petra Olszowski and Handan Kaymak on “Diversity as a Leadership Mission”. A cultural politician who sees herself as an enabler rather than a maker of concrete guidelines has met a practitioner. As a facilitator of diversity-oriented organizational development, Kaymak manages cultural institutions that wish to open up in order to develop in a contemporary and diversity-oriented manner, to break down barriers and discrimination. When asked about the state’s vision of this, Petra Olshovsky answered in principle, without wanting to go into too much detail: diversity must be made tangible on two levels – in the artistic program and in the creation of the institutions themselves. To be many in the first place Consider the voices and involve them as much as possible to facilitate a diverse programme. In this context, empowerment means “putting oneself in a position to implement this diversity.” This phenomenon is not new, people have been talking about it for decades. “But if I’m honest and you take a look at the cultural scene in Baden-Württemberg and all of Germany, we’re nowhere near where we need to be.” It is important to make tangible progress – also with regard to managerial positions in the cultural sector.
Initiating and measuring such processes is precisely Handan Kaymak’s mission: In the tightly scheduled daily life of cultural institutions, they lack space for discourse and time simply to develop their own vision of change – for the homes themselves and the staff: “There is still much room for improvement. But I see change too. It can be measured. Wichtig sei: „Wie können Besuchende von außen erkennen, dass sich in einer Institution etwas verändert hat?” Petra Olschowski betonte, dass die mitschwingende Frage „Wasnic will ht das Minister” So wichtig sei, jedenfalls zweitrangig gegenüber „Was braucht die society? Ministries can change, but the topic remains important. It is we who must provide the framework for this transformation to be possible. We have to allow such spaces, and ultimately the facility must demand and create them.” Not only in terms of diversity and participation, but also on topics such as consequences of the pandemic, generational change and sustainability/climate. “All of these things just don’t happen.” Teams must take up specific space for this, and professional support is usually necessary. Ideally, the audience will also eventually be picked up and the response will be broader, more diverse, and stronger. “You also have to make yourself independent from the pressures of expectations that are not formulated at all and ideas in ministries or in municipal offices, otherwise you will not make any progress,” the state minister said with a laugh. Moderation Kentner turned this through the ball into a laugh from the audience: “I wish that would be scored.” Small Service: The venue can be found at 3:16:20 from the YouTube broadcast. Then Handan Kaymak pointed out the need to change the powerful bureaucratic structures that impede change processes. A constructive dialogue has developed here, because Petra Olschowski also sees the need for change and welcomed comments that Handan Kaymak would like more time in the respective facilities for her project work, for example. Her conclusion: The transformation process can only succeed at all levels – from the ministry to the public. “This will be my version.”
After lunch and a free exchange in the fresh air for a longer period, the afternoon was devoted to workshops that lasted several hours. Theme “Decolonizing Cultural Action! – From Coordination of Monetary Authority to Diversity-Considerable Opening of the Institution of the Individual” at Kulturhaus Karlstorbahnhof (TiKK). The number of participants exceeded the wildest expectations of leaders Farina Gormar, Stuttgart-area promoter of the International Afrokids Association, and Heidelberg anthropologist Anthony Batazo. Participants were invited to reflect on their own institutions’ positions, project and perspectives on the basis of approaches to decolonization in order to develop concrete steps towards opening up to racist and diversity-sensitive cultural action. Patathu explained that there is continuity from the colonial era to everyday racism today. The basis of decolonized cultural action is initially individual self-centeredness. And this is not always easy: “I am a legible black person, a CIS person, but also a Palatinate or Indo-European person.” Decolonization is “always associated with emotional labor” for all involved. The creation of new fields cannot be passed on to people of color to reduce the power imbalance. Farina Görmar also noted the insidious continuity of colonialism in the search for postcolonialism: for 20 years, People Of Color has done ground-breaking research. Now that there is money and jobs for her, “all sorts of scientific and cultural institutions suddenly became interested in the subject.” Her workshop explained to what extent “colonial continuity can be seen in cityscapes and museums”. Changing that, that is, decolonization, requires a change of consciousness as a process that must begin first – each person participating individually. Then you have to create permanent transformation, structures and situations that don’t symbolically pretend to change something (symbolic).
As an example, the two cited their work in the exhibition “Critical Heritage” at the Stuttgart Lindenmuseum in order to also identify practical obstacles to coordination and equal participation. They were able to give participants a small toolkit based on practical experience, such as reversing stereotypes. A look at the theory is very fruitful and clear, for example Grada Kilumba’s definition of decolonization from her book “Memories of a Plantation” on everyday racism: “Decolonization refers to overcoming colonialism. Politically, it describes the attainment of autonomy by the colonized, and thus includes the achievement of independence and self-determination White fantasies about how one is held in captivity. If one translates these five moments into militaristic colonial behaviour, they will be “discovered, attacked, attacked, subjugated and occupied.” Appreciate each other, but discuss controversial things. “You have to tackle issues together and not give up too quickly.”