Christoph MAGER, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
Madeleine WAGNER, Heidelberg University, Germany
Festivals play a relevant part in the cultural strategy of many cities and regions across Europe. As key aspects of an events’ proceedings cultural infrastructures provide spaces, props, technical equipment and staff. In addition to publicly funded cultural institutions and venues run by private companies, infrastructures of the civil society sector such as community centers and volunteer-run art house cinemas play a decisive role in the handling of festivals. In the past 40 years, these alternative cultural infrastructures have been established in many cities to respond to social and urban crises of the post war decades at the local level. Initially started as grassroots movements that had to struggle for political appreciation and appropriate location in protracted disputes with municipal administration, these institutions are now an established part of the local cultural landscape offering accessible rooms for socializing, cultural empowerment and negotiating concerns of a community. In this paper, we focus on the locational and infrastructural trajectories of festivals in the polycentric Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region in Germany. Marketed nationally and internationally as a "Festivalregion", events play an outstanding role in the cultural strategy of the region and its cities. Using the examples of repeated relocations of festivals over the years, we aim to understand how cultural infrastructures of the civil sector influence the politics, practices, and meanings of events. Analyzing newspaper coverage, policy documents and interviews with stakeholders from urban planning, city administration and cultural work we map and evaluate shifting discourses and networks in the processes of event relocation in a temporal and geographical context. We show how, in the context of eventization and festivalization of urban politics cultural infrastructures are increasingly required to negotiate cultural needs of diverse communities and marketization of cultural work.
Keywords: cultural infrastructure|festivals|urban governance|Germany