Pre-Christmas season is a time of contemplation and introspection. Oh boy, 2020 has been a rough one: distancing rules instead of drinks with friends, home office instead of house parties. After a first lockdown in spring, summer was a bit more relaxed in Europe. Currently, at time of publication, we are back to lockdown, albeit it being a „light“ one.
And still, Berlin’s cultural community is fighting – as it has been the last eight months - with all its strength and creativity for the cultural and musical life of the city to continue. Online, people have started innovative initiatives with motivated artists and hungry culture enthusiasts. In this reflective time of year, we want to look back on the past months and present a special end-of-the-year review 2020.
Many conferences and fairs had to be postponed until next year by their organizers. With new strategies and elaborate hygiene concepts the responsible parties tackle the trade fair year 2021 with a sound optimism. Superbooth announced a comeback for spring 2021 with its original concept of a trade fair for electronic music and additional SOOPERgrail, a fair for guitar fans. re:publica will also be back with a conference about digitization in May 2021, even though „rpRemote“ was successfully held online and free of charge for the first time this year. The organizers of Loop have decided to go a step further and canceled the event next year. According to an official statement the creators of “Loop “ cannot guarantee a safe implementation. Nonetheless, the organizers of “Loop” are constantly working on new digital formats for meetings and idea exchanges in which creatives are designing the future of music.
For their diligence, sense of responsibility and farsightedness as regards the return of major events the event planners of Berlin deserve a special mention.
A conference that did in fact take place successfully was the Most Wanted: Music 2020 (MW:M). The organizers managed to realize over 30 talks, workshops, Q&As and panels with over 80 international speakers completely online. From the location Alte Münze, MW:M broadcast their seventh convention in a currently fitting mix of on- and offline. Solutions for the crisis were the dominating topics. Discussions of how to support the creative sector, payment methods of streaming platforms and the role of music in times of climate crisis and social changes and concepts for live performances using new technologies to support musicians were on the agenda.
With a live showcase on the last day of WM:M music did not just stay a talking point. 24 international performances were broadcast live from Alte Münze in Berlin, but also from multiple cities across Germany and from countries such as Canada, Luxemburg and Hungary. Furthermore, the fifth “listen to berlin: Awards” were presented, which celebrate the music scene. This year there was a special addition, the “Business Prize”, with which the solidarity platform “United We Stream” was awarded for their innovative handling of organizing help for the Berlin club scene.
Speaking of United We Stream: Together with Culture Cast they have proven that we won’t have to give up music in the future thanks to creative solutions. Both are back for lockdown “light” with full force and support artists and clubs, but also charities like “Sea Watch”, the “Obdachlosenhilfe Berlin” and “Tierschutzverein für Berlin” with concerts. Originally designed as a fundraising campaign for the club scene in Berlin, the streaming initiative “United We Stream” morphed into an international culture platform and has generated over 1,5 million euros of donations worldwide.
Their goal is the preservation of club culture and to call attention to the current vulnerable situation. Cultural formats across genres from everchanging locations were able to attract over 40 million visitors. Another successful concept is the one by the Berlin collective “Culture Cast”, who sees itself as a part of the club and concert scene of the capital and broadcasts live concerts from the Astra Kulturhaus into the living rooms of their viewers.
Among the streaming platforms Berlin (a)live is considered the newbie. The platform has been created as a cooperation of the Senate Department for Culture and Europe of Berlin and 3pc. Here, artists can publish livestreams and gain some financial support this way. It doesn’t matter if it’s living room concerts, dj sets and online vernissages, live readings or classical opera – everything goes. Amateurs and professionals alike are more than welcome to join in. This way, a coexistence of diverse cultural formats take shape. “Berlin (a)live” enables a network for creative artists and culture enthusiasts and a short outbreak out of isolation. With this alternative stage for cultural exchange, viewers and artists alike can blank out their worries for a short period of time.
In total, we can start into a new year full of hope. With untamable creativity, pragmatic solutions and a high level of personal initiative there is much that can be done for the music and culture scene. Nonetheless, the artists, the organizers, the club owners and all the people behind the scenes, such as stagehands, light and sound engineers are in dire need of support. The whole industry is groaning under the restrictions. Just in time for Christmas, we would like to share a tip of what your support could look like: Gift concert and event tickets for your favorite shows and artists. Gift merch, solidarity tickets and livestream soirees. This way, you create mutual experiences, keep the diverse cultural landscape of Berlin up and running and help those who are in need. Here’s to a better 2021.