Impulse about to fold?

23 November 2012

Funding of less than 600,000 Euros has currently been secured for Impulse 2013 – 150,000 under the required minimum budget and a good 300,000 Euros less than the sum available in 2011.

Despite their own squeezed budgets, the four cities involved, Bochum, Düsseldorf, Cologne and Mülheim an der Ruhr, have confirmed that they will each contribute 45,000 Euros. As in previous years, the NRW KULTURsekretariat will also contribute 250,000 Euros. On top of this, the Academy of the Arts of the World in Cologne is committed to invest 20,000 in a special project, which, however, needs further co-financing. The Kunststiftung NRW (Art Foundation NRW) will maintain its current funding level of 150,000 Euros.

Shortfall of at least 150,000 Euros
Each of the last three festivals, from 2007 to 2011, however, had funding of at least 800,000 Euros, while the last had a budget of over 900,000 Euros. After participating on three occasions, the Federal Cultural Foundation can provide no more financial support for procedural reasons; its jury excluded an application for open funding to put on site-specific works by the British performance duo Lone Twin, the Israeli artist Yael Bartana, the Indian Raqs Media Collective and Mapa Teatro from Columbia.
As a result, we need to make up the shortfall of at least 150,000 Euros to reach an acceptable level for the 2013 Festival. Even then, a budget of 750,000 would still be considerably below the funding levels of the last festival, which stood at over 900,000 Euros.

Lack of support from the state of NRW
After the last festival in 2011, Klaus Schäfer, then the North Rhine-Westphalia culture secretary, summed up the significance of Impulse both within the state and beyond. Despite the festival’s precarious situation, the state has yet to hold out the prospect of sufficient direct support.
An offer to contribute 50,000 Euros if necessary would be far from solving the festival’s funding difficulties. Thus, it is clear that Impulse can only take place if the shortfall is made up by the end of the year.
The situation is particularly precarious because there are also signals that the federal state is minded to review the necessity and “contemporaneity” of Impulse.

A blow to the independent scene
The independent theater scene has continued to gain notice in the last few years: both municipal and state theatres have been seeking collaboration partners; the Berliner Theatertreffen theatre festival has been casting its net wider for some time now; previous winners of the Impulse prize, such as Gob Squad and Rimini Protokoll have become international hits.
Impulse has been the key festival for this independent scene for some time now, presenting works to a local and international public alike. The festivals serve as both a platform and an important lobbyist for independent theatre. The end of Impulse would mean far more than just the end of a festival.