Mr. Audi, you are looking for new forms of performance for classical music. Why do you think so many are not coming back right now?
I think there are very different reasons for that. I have spoken to many colleagues in Berlin over the past three weeks. At Radialsystem Berlin we are in the process of doing a scientific study on the concert experience and have noticed a lot of people asking: How do you do it with a mask – we won’t come unless masks are still mandatory. Others do not want to come unless there is no mask, but at the same time they are afraid and therefore do not come. I think a lot of people lack that social component, the societal experience. There is still no gastronomy in many cultural institutions. Much is lost there. And I think, quite simply, a lot of people have found it very good not to go out too much. There is enough to look on the Internet. Altogether, I would venture to say that in our classical concert industry 40 percent of the missing can certainly be talked about.
These are all reasons to conclude: it is not the concerts themselves, now your task is to change the concerts. To what extent do shapes ultimately play a role?
This is a trend that has been around for years. Corona made it clear that the offer is not as attractive as it seems. I’ve been working on this for 15 years, not only since the pandemic, but the pandemic has shown through a magnifying glass what isn’t quite the way it might. For me, it’s so important that we step away from this actor and care a lot about taking the audience’s perspective, without just thinking about popularity. That’s probably the ultimate punishment in the prom zone, because then we’ll only hear Vivaldi’s seasons until the end of our lives. I think it’s not about becoming any less accessible than convergence as an active process. To do this, we have to leave our ivory towers and reach the audience.
Explain it with an example. How do you implement it?
What you notice – across the country – is that if there is a regional connection with the public, there is also such a thing as a sense of responsibility and a very strong connection to the meaning of the community. They still operate in these places – they can be festivals or groups in big cities that have a strong audience connection. What’s tricky is the places where it’s all about the supply, such that it’s this famously glossy aesthetic in classical music where the audience doesn’t really feel a connection. We have to work on it. There are many ways to engage with the audience in different ways and to find other approaches and other points of resonance.
I’ve called the Burning Glass Pestilence in this context. Can one say this is now within reach and speeds up that we are more actively looking for new formats, for changes?
At least that’s what I experience as a burnt glass. You can also say fire accelerator. There are many fundamental problems in the industry – keyword aging for audience/vulnerable groups. This, in turn, is closely related to the epidemic. They are clearly especially careful. It appears that a lot has passed. For years I have had the feeling that there is a disconnect between the cultural sector and a broad group in society. We have to open up again and reconnect the connection we’ve lost. So, for me, the solution to the puzzle is not the low threshold, but the effective establishment of convergence in order to get the argument out of the way: this has nothing to do with me, this has nothing to do with me, this has nothing to do with me in my daily life, at present.