After Covid: what’s the future for the arts?


09. Oktober 2020, 19.00 Uhr


Theaterforum Kreuzberg, Eisenbahnstraße 21, 10997 Berlin


5,00 EUR

Eine öffentliche Diskussionsveranstaltung in Berlin, organisiert von unserer Partnerorganisation Freiblickinstitut e.V. gemeinsam mit der Londoner Academy of Ideas. Auf Englisch, mit Hygienekonzept.

Panel debate as part of the Battle of Ideas Europe.

The question as to whether – and why – we need the arts has taken on a new urgency in our times. Theatres, concert halls, music venues and cinemas may turn out to have been the organisations that are worst hit by the Covid-19 crisis, with an enormous knock-on effect on actors, writers, technicians and performers. Many venues may go bankrupt, and those that survive may face years of uncertainty and audiences hesitant to return to enclosed spaces.

But whilst the crisis poses huge challenges, has it underlined the importance of the arts and experiencing them ‘in the flesh’? Many theatre and music lovers have come to realise that online solutions – though better than nothing – cannot be a real substitute for live performances.

More broadly, will the crisis shake up any complacency and encourage people to justify the role of the arts? With millions confined to their homes, have we discovered just how important the shared experience of art is, and learnt to appreciate anew the role of the collective audience and its interaction with performers and artworks? Or, do the arguably meagre support packages announced by governments across Europe – and the tepid public demand to reopen venues as quickly as possible – suggest that governments and publics have lost belief in the purpose of the arts?

Many suggest that this should serve as a wake-up call for artistic institutions. It is alleged that – especially in more ‘elite’ arts like opera – performances are dominated by the same groups of people, often there to be seen rather than out of the ‘disinterested interest’ said to characterise true artistic enjoyment. Perhaps the scant public demand for rescue packages for venues and the wider cultural landscape reflects the detachment of ‘high culture’ from the lives of ‘regular’ people. Given, however, how obsessed many cultural institutions already are with ‘inclusion’ and ‘equity’, perhaps it is time to re-assess the demand that culture and the arts becomes more ‘relevant’ and ‘inclusive’? What, indeed, is the role of artistic institutions: to provide a home for great art or promote broader public engagement with the arts?

Yet, the most immediate question for many venues in our times will probably be that of sheer survival. Aspirations towards independence – financial or otherwise – will likely take a hit as institutions become more reliant on the state or major donors. But should we nonetheless still ask questions about the role of the state or major businesses in the arts?

In sum, what is the future for the arts after the coronavirus crisis? What role should the arts stake out for itself, and how will it justify itself to the public? How can we ensure that the arts don’t merely survive the crisis, but genuinely thrive in the future?


  • Frank Alva Buecheler, director, author, cultural entrepreneur and university professor
  • Niels Betori Diehl, artist and architect, NBDBKP
  • Mo Lovatt, programme coordinator, Academy of Ideas
  • Zé do Rock, writer


  • Jacob Reynolds, partnerships manager, Academy of Ideas

Due to Corona regulations registration in advance is mandatory. Please register via Eventbrite!