A Past with a Future: Industrial Culture in Evolution

Industrial culture will be at the center of the Kulturland Brandenburg 2021 festival year, when we and over 40 partners will be taking a new approach in presenting pioneering and sometimes surprising projects throughout Brandenburg. Starting in January 2021, these projects will be announced and publicized on our website, online calendar and social media accounts and in the accompanying program booklet.

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New departures in 2021

The term “industrial culture” has heretofore primarily been used in discussing the cultural history and landscape of the industrial age. For the upcoming festival year “A Past with a Future: Industrial Culture in Evolution” however, the concept has been updated to include a forward-looking perspective alongside the historical one when we look at the future of industry in the continuum with its industrial cultural heritage.

Traditional industry no longer figures significantly into people’s everyday lives, despite the fact that industrial technology keeps advancing at an ever-accelerating pace. The state of Brandenburg can be said to have entered the Industry 4.0 phase some time ago.

The theme for festival year 2021 was chosen by Kulturland Brandenburg to explore many of the ingenious ideas and sustainable concepts being pursued at the intersection point of culture and industry. Multi-disciplinary projects underway throughout the state demonstrate the creativity and adaptability of Brandenburg’s artists and cultural leaders, who play a key role in defining style and identity.

Entwürfe für Lausitz 2021

The projects selected to be part of festival year 2021 are focused around the four topic areas outlined below.

A changing perspective: rethinking industrial culture

One of the main messages being transported in this festival year is how industrial culture is due for a rethinking in the wake of changes in both industry itself and the societal framework in which it is embedded. The state’s industrial culture has been principally occupied with industrial origins, oriented around the study and preservation of the structures that bear witness to an industrial past. But now, the numerous projects comprising the 2021 festival are focusing more on the present and future of industry in a re-examination of both plausible interpretations and site planning in which new formats are experimented at established locations.

Lausitz: post-coal incubator

In few places the transformation of the industrial sector is more evident than in the Lausitz region (also known in English as Lusatia). German reunification set dramatic structural changes in motion that are still playing out today. The development of the region has fallen short of expectations despite manifold efforts toward its transition into a post-industrial future. Relevant players in Lausitz are focusing more and more on innovation and invention as part of an incubator culture for ideas that could propel industrial restructuring in the region.

Pioneers of the hinterland

The consequences of these structural changes are evident in Lausitz and throughout the state, which had seen considerable industrial growth away from the metropolitan area of Berlin. Many of the former industrial sites look rather bleak today, where jobs have gone away, buses and trains don’t stop anymore and digitalization has yet to really get going and spark renewal. There are innovative players, however, who see possibilities and are moving to take advantage of opportunities, undeterred by the structural deficiencies. Especially in the peripheral regions closer to the state’s borders, people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds are working together to create value in new ways and establish anchor points for creativity and a diverse regional identity.

The renewable energy transition—good prospects for the industrial sector

Brandenburg’s industrial sector has been undergoing a renaissance over the last several years as structures have been progressively updated to keep pace with economic development on the local, regional and global levels. Moves to abandon coal mining and the attracting of car maker Tesla are perhaps the two highest-profile developments, but much, much more is going on both within and outside the industrial sector as Brandenburg moves forward with climate protection, sustainability and other future-critical issues.

The opening event for Kulturland Brandenburg 2021, “A Past with a Future: Industrial Culture in Evolution,” is slated for May, to be held in Eberswalde—the cradle of Brandenburg’s industrial culture.