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Tom Lanzki, Altonale (Germany) – Partner Interview

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Author Jo Mcleish - The Media Room

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Tell us about your organisation?

Altonale is the largest cultural festival in Hamburg. Ordinarily it’s held in Springtime, but due to the pandemic, it is being pushed to September. It is two weeks of art and cultural activity in unusual places, from literature and film to street art, music and theatre.

For the last 5 years we’ve had a festival hub in the park to give the event a focal point for people to meet, and for the last 10 years, the festival has also been home to STAMP (street art festival). Over 30 companies and organisations take part, locally, nationally and internationally.

What’s been important to me is that we develop and profile the theory behind street art, so for the last 4 years we have also held a series of conferences in conjunction with the art festival itself. It’s imperative that we help young artists grow.

What does Altonale bring to the LIBERTY EU project?

For me, what’s important is that we ‘stay’ with the young person, and we help them to grow by nurturing and supporting them. That’s why we focus on artists aged 30 and under, guiding them and helping them to navigate projects, showing them how they can actually make a living from the work they do, and encouraging them to make good exchanges between other young artists.

We push young artists to understand their artistic ideas. We empower them on their journey and most importantly we keep in touch with our artists once their project with us has finished.  Nurturing young artists and providing them with inspiration from other young artist is key to our mission.

What do you hope LIBERTY EU will achieve for young artists in your country?

We have to keep reminding people that culture is relevant. Now more than ever, there is so much to question in society right now. And this is where young people can make a difference – their art will help them to renegotiate the world around them. When society is put to the test, culture has to take responsibility.

Why do you think the LIBERTY EU project is important now?

The pandemic has caused so much fear and anxiety. People worry about the lack of future prospects.  What Liberty EU will do is show some perspective.  We can provide a statement of how the world is right now and how culture can be used for good. We know that many people in society are silenced and their voices are not heard. LIBERTY EU seeks to address this by providing creative platforms for people to speak and not be ignored.

Where can LIBERTY EU achieve most impact?

Most importantly for me will be the exchange of artists – the workshop of international artists working together is also significant, I’m looking at producing a digital map that includes every artist involved in the festival. A celebration of one big performance – wow that will be the impact!

What are you most excited about delivering as part of the LIBERTY EU project?

Our Superpower Office! We have created this in the heart of a pedestrian area of Hamburg. And we are inviting members of the public to vote on what superpower they would like. These people are invited into the Superpower Office to work with us on creating some ideas and exploring their super power.  This will then be turned into a superpower presentation and give people the opportunity to look into the future. We hope to bring this to Leicester, UK in 2022.

Why are the arts so important for young people?

The arts provide young people with the opportunity to renegotiate and to discuss the issues that are so prevalent in society.  It provides them with a chance to take a position through the platforms of art and culture.  There are a lot of right-wing movements right now who attack the arts and culture – we need to allow young people to reconnect with the arts – value them and learn from them – allowing them the opportunity to make a statement through art.

Has Brexit impacted on European Artistic relationships?

The relationships will continue because we all believe in the same artistic objectives and our relationship with UK-based ArtReach (the lead organisation for LIBERTY EU) goes back six or seven years.  But what is hard right now is the practical issues of travelling. Will that exchange of artists work as freely and as easily as it has in the past?

Images of Angels, Altonale (Hamburg, Germany) 2020 (Photo by Thomas Panzau)

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