Project developmentThe programme of Culture Capital Year was remarkably heterogeneous with regard to its origins. Some programme elements were conceived, developed and realised by Linz09, either entirely on its own or in collaboration. Then there were all those ideas that had freely been contributed by individual artists, groups of the so-called Indie scene, cultural initiatives and associations and by individuals without any apparent group affiliation, who nevertheless submitted excellent ideas and creative suggestions to Linz09. There were, thirdly, certain topics and contents whose complexity was such that their coherent and attractive realisation required the sure touch of the most competent of authors. And there was, finally, a fourth group of programme elements that owed their existence to a combination of all these sources, which in retrospect defies their definitive attribution to any one of them.
The ideal programme as envisaged by the artistic directors would deliberately skirt round actual (or putative) blockbusters that were frequently called for and opt for projects and interventions that contained a strong element of surprise both with regard to their content and their venue, which was ideally a highly unusual one. It was also a matter of consensus that Linz09 would essentially focus on contemporary art in the broadest sense to showcase the fresh, unspent resources of a “City of Empowerment”, as one of the titles often used in a political context for the self-characterisation of Linz goes. This implied a position that contrasted with the classical, tradition steeped and slightly obsolescent bastions of Austria’s high culture. Other characteristic features that marked the realisation of the guiding principles were owed to the intensive collaboration between Linz Kultur and the Tourist Board of Linz and Upper Austria. To increase the programme’s attractivity for culture tourists it was considered necessary to spread the programme evenly across the 365 days of Culture Capital Year. The threshold for access to events was to be kept as low as possible. This involved a whole range of measures, from taking into consideration from the very start the expectations of the public to tailored mediation programmes, excellent value-for-money as regards ticket prices and the unusual, highly welcoming venues.
Programming also took into consideration a feature that was already strongly in evidence in Linz’s cultural life prior to Culture Capital Year and that came to play an even more prominent role in 2009: the staging of art and culture in the public sphere. Nearly all the classic genres (music, literature, and the performing and visual arts) and projects in the fields of history, urban neighbourhood culture, migration, ecology, and sports put the public sphere both in inner city and suburban contexts to excellent use for clearly visible, frequently downright spectacular interventions before the eyes of Linzers and visitors.
OrgansiationIn organisational terms Linz09’s programming took place in three distinct units: Projects (headed by Ulrich Fuchs, in collaboration with Martin Heller), Music (Peter Androsch) and Performing Arts (Airan Berg). Responsibility for the project as whole in terms of artistic matters and content ultimately rested with Martin Heller as the Artistic Director of Linz09, who was able to act and make decisions in a completely autonomous manner. The Projects unit comprised all projects outside Music and Performing Arts and included the classic genres Visual Arts, Media, Literature, Urban Neighbourhood Projects, and all kinds of projects in the areas of Migration, Gender Issues, Contemporary History, Education, Science, etc.
Project proposalA challenge requiring special sensitivity was dealing with projects proposed by third parties. Project proposals were not subject to any kind of bureaucratic requirements; formal considerations were kept to the absolutely necessary minimum to encourage broad participation. All proposals were discussed in core team meetings, where all decisions concerning the next steps were made. In all cases where the proposal was not followed up the proponents received a personal letter, which outlined the reasons why the proposal was not taken into consideration. In all other cases proponents were asked to submit a more detailed concept paper. If this more detailed version of the proposal was also felt to be convincing, Linz09 commissioned the authors to submit a so-called pre-project, which amounted to a feasibility study for which a fee became due.
Between 2006 and 2008 a total number of 147 pre-projects were commissioned. This approach made it possible to eliminate at an early stage a great number of incalculable uncertainties on one hand and on the other created an opportunity to involve the local and regional cultural scene, whose members are frequently forced in comparable situations elsewhere to provide concepts and studies for free.
Despite the utmost care applied to Programming, the artistic directorate had no choice but to cancel a few projects at a fairly advanced stage. The reasons why these projects could not be realised – e.g., production-related problems or financial problems on the part of the authors – were explained in detail to the public and to Linz09’s Board of Trustees.