in love & heartbroken


Declaration of love to the independent arts scene in NRW

Dear independent artists of North Rhine-Westphalia,
we love you – and we’re heartbroken.

It’s been an extremely exciting year, travelling across the state for FAVORITEN 2022: we have been through a lot with you, been able to encounter some wonderful art works and been able to see you, listen to you and you’ve given us some remarkable experiences. Thank you for all this.

And now we are faced with the difficult task of have to make a selection, in which, sadly, there is only room for a fraction of these many, impressive works. Not an easy task – a joyful and pleasurable one in some respects, but also a difficult and painful one in others. To explain in terms of numbers: in the last year we have viewed more than 500 works and can offer just 27 slots in the programme: that’s roughly 6%.

The three of us – Anne, Margo and Sina – began the last year with very different experiences: some of us have known you for a long time, others are only now privileged to get to know you and the artistic landscape more closely. In the last year we have become constant rail passengers, covering tens of thousands of kilometres and have made the effort to visit as many of you and your works as we possibly could.

We travelled to and with you and we
drank tea in Mülheim and thought about the future,
sat on an exercise machine in Bochum,
cheered on human pyramids in Herne,
wriggled through corridors in Münster tracking down insects,
took trips to lovely camp sites on stages in Düsseldorf.

We could
lie on the yoga mats in Bielefeld,
see a live TV show about water in Essen,
admire what dance looks like when everything is turned upside down in Bonn,
embark on online road trips,
go for an audio walk through our own homes by phone.

We were there when
the fee for the evening was the prize in a performance disguised as a game show,
a vortex of flying newspapers rampaged across Cologne harbour.

We were able to
learn about Turkish wedding customs,
cheer on new boy bands,
drink shots of oat or mother’s milk,
walk through a dazzling rose garden,
see the world’s best Schweinsteiger impersonation,
sing along with the glitzy Mariah Carey,
attend the final mass,
admire a choreographed burger from the fast dance snack bar,
gasp at performing dogs,
listen to audio dramas about synapses and our relationship with our own brain,
go on a bus tour of Roma sites in Düsseldorf,
negotiate what to do with a new urban area in hybrid planning games.

We went
tracking down German family history with Heidi,
drinking grog with a penguin at a foggy harbour and could talk at a travel agent about everything that’s missing.

The list is a long one, and could be a lot longer because what we’ve learnt from this journey is: You’re wonderful and we love you!

North Rhine-Westphalia’s independent scene is enormously varied and very large. It brings together a multitude of genres, generations and approaches. We feel we’re very lucky to have been able to see so many of your works and they made a strong impression. However, within the framework that is available to us it was not possible to invite all the works to the festival. A decision in favour of one piece is automatically a decision against something else. This is a painful process and we have not taken these decisions lightly.

We have endeavoured to assemble a programme for FAVORITEN 2022 that demonstrates the polyphony of NRW’s independent arts scene, taking account of its plurality of venues, including a range of genres and allowing scope for a multitude of views.

This polyphony also includes a number of works specially for a young audience as well as an adult one. We are interested in intergenerational dialogue – so all the projects are accompanied by recommended ages.

In this programme we have also attempted to represent how you have negotiated the last two years and the artistic forms that you have found during the pandemic.
Consequently, there will be a number of artistic works created for public spaces, and a wide-ranging programme of digital productions.
We have given the festival the motto (Un)Learning for possible futures and we wish to explore collectively what needs to be (un)learnt and how or from whom we can (un)learn it. This – admittedly very broad – motto has been borne in mind in our decisions when selecting the programme.

And we ourselves want to (un)learn too:
We have been delighted to be invited to view your work through various channels and have accepted these invitations as often as we could. However, we have also discovered that this procedure has led a number of confusions and questions both for you and for us: is an invitation automatically an application? Should artists keep the period of the festival free? When will they hear back?
This process left a number of things up in the air and in certain cases led to misunderstandings, confusion and displeasure. In future we would like to create a clearer and more transparent process. The next edition of the festival will therefore have an application form that everyone who wishes to enter their work can fill out. This will ensure that you will receive a response as to whether you are part of the festival programme or not. We regret that it was not possible to do so this year. We would like to apologise for this and hope you will understand.
We want to learn from this experience. If you have ideas and suggestions about the application process, please contact us. There will be more information about the new application process available on our website from autumn this year.

We would like to thank you most warmly for being able to experience the wonderful works you have created, which have made a great impression on us and continually kept us thinking. We look forward to carrying this process into the future and the opportunity for more experiences like these as part of the 2024 edition of the festival.

But now we are delighted to invite you to come to Dortmund from 15 – 25 September for the FAVORITEN Festival 2022!
Anne, Margo & Sina