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In 2019, the Federal Theater Prize was awarded for the third time.


Felix Sodemann



The award is aimed at small and medium-sized theaters that have an impact on urban society with their cultural offerings, theater productions, guest performances and participatory projects. The focus should be on theaters outside the metropolises, away from the theater centers. And so only two theaters from cities with more than 300,000 inhabitants are among the award winners.

31 portraits of small and medium-sized theaters beyond the metropolitan areas.

The 31 theaters that were awarded the Theaterpreis des Bundes in 2015, 2017 and 2019 are portrayed in the magazine "Stadt, Land, Kunst - Theater im Dialog mit der Gesellschaft an den Rändern der Städte und jenseits der Metropolen" (City, Country, Art - Theater in Dialogue with Society on the Fringes of Cities and Beyond the Metropolises).

Produced in collaboration between the German ITI Center and the editorial team of Theater der Zeit, the special publication is now included in the May 2020 issue of Theater der Zeit. Authors from the theaters present the work of small and medium-sized theaters in individual studies. These portraits are complemented by two roundtable discussions that examine the role of the prize both from the perspective of theaters that have not yet been able to win the prize and from the viewpoint of representatives of the theater associations.

The supplement to Theater der Zeit also includes a brief evaluation of a survey on how the Federal Theater Prize is perceived among theater professionals and what effects are attributed to the prize in the theater world.

The digital version of the special publication is available free of charge here.

2019 laureates

The jury of this year's Theaterpreis des Bundes, consisting of Jörg Albrecht, Sophie Diesselhorst, Dorte Lena Eilers, Bettina Jahnke, Ulrike Kolter and Matthias Schulze-Kraft has decided. Eleven theaters will be awarded the Federal Theater Prize. In addition to nationwide attention, this also means 75,000€ for artistic projects, which will go to each theater.

The award-winning theaters are: Theater Thikwa, Berlin, Piccolo Theater Cottbus, Theater Erlangen, Theaterwerkstatt Pilkentafel, Flensburg, Boat People Project, Göttinge, Oper Halle, Helios Theater, Hamm, Puppentheater Magdeburg, Landestheater Schwaben, Memmingen, Ringlokschuppen Ruhr, Mülheim, Theater Rampe, Stuttgart.

The detailed jury statements can be found here.

Click here for the complete press release of the German office of the International Theatre Institute and for the press release of the Minister of State for Culture and Media Prof. Monika Grütters.

Conference: "Dialogue with the urban society".

On May 27, 2019, the award ceremony of the Theaterpreis des Bundes 2019 and the conference "Dialogue with the urban society" took place at the Theater Gera.

The conference, which was hosted by the ITI as part of the award ceremony, brought around 120 participants from all areas of the theater landscape into an intensive dialogue. Keynote speeches by the cultural researcher Hilke Berger and Wolfgang Schneider from the Institute for Cultural Policy at the University of Hildesheim kicked off the discussion. Hilke Berger in particular with a critical look at the concept of participation; Wolfgang Schneider with an all-round look at cultural policy initiatives for "theater in the province", which should not only focus on the municipal theater, but also on the independent scene and amateur theater.

Then 13 discussion groups led from theory into practice, which concretely brought projects of the prize winners and of houses that had applied for the theater prize into conversation. Examples: The great role played by long-term mediation work was made clear by the example of the Gera Theaterfabrik; how an audience is reached through concrete engagement with Flensburg's city history was shown by the Theater Pilkentafel; what staying power it takes to involve the citizens of a city in the project "Staging Democracy" was reported by the Lichthof Theater from Hamburg; how really topical plays for children are created because the separation of theater makers and theater pedagogy is abolished in the Piccolo Theater Cottbus; how an inclusive project becomes a theater work with its own artistic quality - this experience was shared by the Theater Thikwa from Berlin. A summary of all discussion groups will be part of the documentation.

The second part of the conference under the title "Theater under Pressure?" confronted the theater associations with three impulses, which demanded from the theaters not only the dialogue with the urban society, but also the associated, necessary change of perspectives and structures in the houses. Laura Kiehne (ensemble network) and Sören Fenner (art but fair) made an urgent plea for fair pay and fairer structures at the theaters. Marc Grandmontagne (Deutscher Bühnenverein), Dorothee Starke (INTHEGA) and Anne Schneider (Bundesverband Freie Darstellende Künste) did not want to close their minds to this demand. Above all, because they all saw great potential in a theater freed from traditional hierarchies and enriched by respect and artistic dialogue at eye level, also for dialogue with urban society. Christophe Knoch (Die Vielen) also focused on this open theater that engages with society. Enabling social groups to participate in the theaters' cultural offerings also means participating in what is being discussed in society. Dorothee Starke expressly invited Knoch to the next INTHEGA conference and showed here, as in other statements, that the guest performance theaters are another pillar of the theater landscape that must be taken seriously.

For the International Theatre Institute (ITI), Kay Wuschek brought it down to these two points: Theaters should be involved in society, should listen and participate in what social issues and cultural community mean to others. And they should not see this as making up for deficits, but as a great potential for their artistic development.

An outlook that gives courage and strength, also in view of the questions that also dominated the discussion with the European elections (and the local elections in Thuringia). "Art is free and it will always remain so," was the core sentence of the speech by Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters at the subsequent award ceremony. Monika Grütters praised the artistic achievements of the award winners as an example of the great diversity of the theater landscape. A diversity that is made possible by the states and municipalities, and in which artists repeatedly provide food for thought on social issues.

Gera's mayor Julian Vonarb and Thuringia's Minister of Culture Benjamin-Immanuel Hoff expressed their commitment and strong statements about the need to create political attitudes, support and a social climate for this at local level.