Culture | Place.Positioning

This publication is the result of pioneering cultural policy work, which has strategically driven the Leipzig independent scene over the past two years. The idea to publish a position paper arose in 2013 with the idea for an international cultural congress and cultural festival Culture | Place.Positioning, which took place from the 21st to the 27th of September, 2015.

Culture | Place.Positioning represented the most crucial cultural contribution of Leipzig’s independent scene for the city’s anniversary year 2015. 1000 years after the city’s first mention seemed to be a grand occasion for celebrating that which makes the city what it is and what it stands for. To this end, the municipality cooperated with the initiative Leipzig + Culture e.V. to enable projects within the congress. Within this context, the independent scene was enabled to implement their respective projects. This also meant that many actors from the independent scene could actively cooperate with partners at home and abroad.

Culture | Place.Positioning was the first international, interdisciplinary conference in Germany that was entirely initiated and realised by the independent cultural scene of the city. With over 40 international experts coming from France, Great Britain, Poland, Greece, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Latvia, as well as from all over Germany; (new) cultural policy terms have been defined, practical examples have been collected and recommendations for action have been elaborated upon. More than 50 participants with backgrounds in science, the independent scene, administration and politics brought their diverse personal experiences to the in-depth discussions.

The congress dealt with the following theoretical concepts: room for manoeuvre, participation, cooperation and expertise. From these four different perspectives, three very distinct cultural and political topics emerged, which serve as the structural basis for the publication. We discuss the results in light of the “significance” of culture in society, the necessary “skills” for the “design” of cultural frameworks and cultural practice themselves.

The main objective of the project has been reached with the publication: It summarises the discussion of current terms of cultural practice, bundles successful practical examples as well as recommendations for action. The latter of which can significantly improve future cooperation between cultural workers, politicians and the public administration.

The following pages contain:

  • An executive summary and sociopolitical classification of the contents of the congress,
  • A presentation of all speakers and moderators that participated in the congress,
  • Prepared “content,” “best practice examples” and “recommendations” as PDF files, as well as
  • An extensive archive of materials for the congress.

Compared to the printed publication, this online version allows the presentation of more details about certain aspects by linking with images and filmed footage.

The question

“A culture of dialogue, funding structure, culture of dialogue, funding structure”. This statement could have easily been the guiding light of the congress. It was said by Christophe Knoch, spokesman for the Coalition of the Independent Scene of the Arts Berlin, who pointed out repeatedly that the implementation of such guidelines is the only way to fashion a modern society, in other words to create a mature civil society. The aim of this congress is to strengthen civil society and thereby offers an important contribution to the creation of the process of democracy.

The publication is divided into specific issues that act as a leitmotif guiding the reader through a range of content, which in turn relate specifically to the dialogue between the independent scene and the municipal decision-makers in the field of culture. In this case, the independent scene refers to actors who work in independent agencies in the cultural sector. With municipal decision makers in the cultural field, we are referring to cultural administrators and politicians who are active at the local level and by their function - whether in the city administration or in the politically-framed city council - are substantially responsible for making cultural-political decisions.

How can a lasting and sustainable dialogue between the independent scene and municipal decision makers be realised? What are the topics of cooperation? How can these agencies be designed and what skills are needed here? During the congress, Prof. Dr. Oliver Scheytt identified “the three dilemmas of cultural politics”, to which this publication has been oriented: Relevance, competence and design.


The search for a dialogue between the independent scene and municipal decision makers embodies the desire for a transformation of cultural policy. This presents several challenges, both on structural and on conceptual levels. This opens up the scope for discussion about the dilemma of relevance (see the Chapter 1).


To ignite transformation processes in cultural policy, important changes are needed in the field of culture both on the part of the independent scene and the municipal decision-makers. The independent scene must restructure itself inwards in order to uniformly represent itself and the decision makers (whether in administration or policy) must gather expertise in order to understand the complexity and diversity of culture in their city. The latter must able to participate in decision-making. This corresponds to the dilemma about competence (see the Chapter 2).


This transformation of cultural policy can be ensured only by introducing permanent instruments of mediation between the independent scene and local decision-makers in the field of culture. It is of utmost importance that this works via the exchange of various actors. The analysis of this issue should be considered as participation in or involvement with cultural policy. This is the content of the discussion about the dilemma of design (see the Chapter 3).