Earlier this summer the Austrian public-service broadcasting ORF announced the end of the only German / TV literature competition, the Ingeborg Bachmann prize. Also called Tage der deutschsprachigen Literatur, the prize is a unique format of its own that gives a handful of (often young) writers the chance of presenting their aspiring texts to a broad TV-audience. After each reading a witty and experienced Jury discusses the texts. In the end the competition ideally makes both a great stepping-stone for the artists’ careers and gives new impulses for the current German literature. It is this the one and only event that lures the top German-speaking feuilleton into Klagenfurt, Carinthia. (A town which is considered a cultural desert during the rest of the year.) A threatening budget-situation and a program off the beaten track of mainstream, certainly not as lucrative as Formula-1, caused ORF general manager Alexander Wrabetz to kill the long standing competition.
As we are engaged cultural workers and students of Cultural Studies and Arts Management we wanted to have a share in the protest and help the program to survive in the future.
What we did was quite simple. We created the project #bbleibt (~ #bremains). At Lendhafen, one of the most beautiful and frequented locations during the competition, we installed a typewriter and a banner. Strollers and visitors were asked to contribute their statement on why the Bachmann prize should continue in the upcoming years. The written statements were assembled together on the banner, which by the end of #bbleibt was densely packed with small sentences by competing writers, school-children and jury members. Parallely we distributed our self-made #bbleibt-buttons as a visible statement in order to establish a stronger connection throughout the project’s participants. You can find all of the statements and additional links and stories here: http://lendhauer.tumblr.com.
#Bbleibt was a great success, we received a great many of diverse contributions and a very positive feedback. Die Zeit, taz, the FALTER and other well-known newspapers covered our story. But the biggest achievement was to create such a spirit and atmosphere that before officially announcing his decision ORF general manager Alexander Wrabetz wrote the following words on the typewriter:
“The Bachmann Prize remains
BECAUSE IT IS IMPORTANT
BECAUSE many became aware of its importance
because there is a lot of support
because of #bbleibt“