Knut Cordsen: Mrs Fuchs, forests are burning, droughts are plaguing us. Heat waves wash over us. In other words, we see the effects of climate change in the news every day, even if we don’t have to feel them firsthand. The cynic in me says: You could hardly have imagined a more appropriate time for the start of your festival, could you?
Christine Fuchs: Yes, that is unfortunately true. And it’s not the cynic saying that, it’s the reality. And that is also the reason why we are starting this festival.
What exactly will the Augsburg Water and Sound Festival be about?
Augsburg is about water and the connection between watercourses and culture. The approach is that water spaces are also cultural spaces. For example, the festival will present African music revolving around the theme of water. The trigger for this is the UNESCO cultural heritage of the city of Augsburg with the legendary water tower. The Augsburg water system is a very important natural cultural aspect of this project.
You already mentioned it: Augsburg’s water management system has won awards worldwide. And now, for example, artists from the Sahara will be present in Augsburg. Will it then also be mutual learning, which is what is aimed for? Or does it not go beyond the musical aspect you just mentioned?
There are discussions about water. The water situation in the Sahara affects us as we all live on this planet, also the issue of climate change. It is about exchange, about mutual learning and a piece of mutual learning is perhaps that the city of Augsburg not only has the concerts it brings, but also an urban ritual: A story that has to do with the waterfowl. It will be carried through Augsburg tomorrow, accompanied by music, a work of art in public space.
Festivals are often associated with a lot of traffic, with flights when international artists travel. We live in an age where every flight requires a moral credential. Are festivals still justified in times of ecological footprints?
So you won’t be able to confirm or deny it in general. I think we are in a time where we have to look very carefully at what else we are producing besides culture, what are we still producing besides garbage? So we have to put things in perspective. And I believe that it is an important task for the future.
Such an art festival can, on the other hand, guarantee a certain degree of climate friendliness, if not climate neutrality?
Here it is not about guaranteeing either, it is about addressing the problems. In parallel with the festival, we will offer a number of courses on the subject of “climate neutral festivals”. It is also a learning, a joint effort. There is a whole range of approaches already being practiced in different cities. You have to turn a small screw here and there and perhaps set up a container instead of the paper cup where the cups are washed. Much is possible and we promote it.
If we ignore real climate change and its problems, the global climate crisis, and look at the cultural climate, for example the debate climate, which many experience as poisoned and heated. How can a festival like yours improve the culture of discussion?
That is a very big question that I certainly cannot answer. But I will tell you how we approach it: We create a discussion space with this festival. This discussion space will exist for a year – and we are asking for contributions: What do you think about it? What ideas do you have? We invite art and also the artists to think about the topic of climate. We do not want to say: You must comply with such and such guidelines, but we would like to raise awareness of the problem. A very central point is that on the one hand we ask the art and the artists and at the same time we start with the organizers and the administration. We want to include the production conditions for art, the so-called corporate ecology, as well as artistic creativity, which can find completely, completely different and much better solutions than the administration alone could.
Augsburg is only the prelude to a festival throughout Bavaria. You have already mentioned it several times with events in Ansbach, Ingolstadt, Kempten, Regensburg, Traunstein or Würzburg, to name just a few places. And it’s an “open festival format”, what exactly does that mean?
Open festival format means that more events can be added that still have room in our calendar. We want to create a cultural climate for a climate-friendly culture, and we want to give the idea of such a culture positive dynamics.