Press Release 27.09.2017:

Three years of “Be Embraced” – positive outcome for Ruhrtriennale 2015 – 2017
A gesture of artistic, geographical and social inclusion: trilogies in the programme for the first time, new venues in new locations, a festival centre for the first time in the Ruhrtriennale’s history, numerous events free of charge and a broader spectrum of audiences and programming.

Bochum, 27th September 2017 – Freude (“joy”), Schöner (“beautiful”), Götterfunken (“sparks of the gods”): these key ideas provided the motto for the Ruhrtriennale 2017, which investigated utopias and visions of the future. Today in Bochum, Johan Simons, Artistic Director of the Ruhrtriennale 2015 – 2017, and Dr. Vera Battis-Reese, Managing Director of Kultur Ruhr GmbH, looked back on the 2017 season and his artistic directorship as a whole and drew some provisional conclusions.

Johan Simons, Artistic Director of the Ruhrtriennale 2015 – 2017: “I wanted to use the Ruhrtriennale to embrace the Ruhr region from 2015 to 2017, to approach its people and to invite them actively to come and join us. We have succeeded repeatedly – even with difficult material. The Ruhrtriennale as I see it should not ‘play safe’. It should not be calculated. It should remain flexible and open to contemporary political themes. I am happy and grateful to have been able to lead this wonderful festival.”

Dr. Vera Battis-Reese, Managing Director of Kultur Ruhr GmbH: “These were three years of wonderful art with creative discoveries, new programming initiatives and not least they were three exciting and intense years that were suitably thoughtful and gave a great deal of pleasure. I would like to thank Johan Simons most warmly for these three years of ‘Be Embraced.’”

Before this season’s festival ends on 30th September, there are still performances of ‘Kleine Seelen’, ‘Cosmopolis’ (both running until 30th September) and ‘Missa Solemnis’ (on 30th September). The closing events in the ‘Refektorium’ will be held on 30th September with a performance of Teentalitarismus (‘The End of Everything’) followed by a party. The installations ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, ‘Europa’ and ‘Truck Tracks Ruhr – The Compilation’ remain open to the public up to 30th September. The final event of the festival programme will take place in the Turbinenhalle at the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum with a late night concert by Arca on 30th September. However, as there cannot be a finale without an encore, three special events await the public after the festival has officially ended. On 1st October ‘Missa Solemnis’ can be heard for a second time at the Musikforum Ruhr and the Ruhrtriennale invites the audiences for ‘JackPott’, the theatrical journey through the Ruhr’s theatres, to an evening finale at the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum. On the following day (2nd October) Johan Simons completes his artistic directorship with a free concert by the Bl!ndman saxophone quartet in and around the Refektorium in front of the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum.

In their closing press conference Johan Simons and Dr. Vera Battis-Reese thanked the Ruhrtriennale’s artists and team for a successful 2017 season and a successful artistic directorship in 2015 – 2017. They also extended thanks to the many sponsors, funding bodies and partners whose active support has made possible many elements of the Ruhrtriennale 2017 programme and the artistic directorship as a whole.

“Be Embraced”: This motto, a gesture of artistic, geographical and social inclusion, links the Ruhrtriennale’s three years under Artistic Director Johan Simons. It was manifest in both the programming and the spirit of the festival. Johan Simons placed a strong emphasis on the artistic links between the three years of his artistic directorship and the first trilogies of theatre and dance in the festival’s history. Site-specific concerts enabled audiences embraced by musicians and sound to discover new listening experiences.  Simons’ aim of attracting new and younger audience groups to the Ruhrtriennale was pursued by linking global and local themes, together with new formats such as ‘Ritournelle’, guerrilla concerts, a festival centre and the programme of free events. Each season’s programme had a clear political focus and featured new venues and areas within the Ruhr region. Alongside a broad programme that appealed to a young pop music audience as well as established visitors to the festival, a festival centre was established for all three years in front of the Jahrhunderthalle in Bochum: the Refektorium, offering a programme of readings, performances and parties with free admission that became popular not only with regular festivalgoers but also with first-time audiences. Civic projects such as ‘Urban Prayers Ruhr’ (2016) were initiated. Free surprise concerts (2015 and 2016) took art to the heart of cities in the Ruhr region. And the Ruhrtriennale also offered its audiences the chance to participate directly in artworks, for example as an extra in the film installation ‘In the Land of Drought’ by the artist Julian Rosefeldt (2015), a film by the Dutch artist Aernout Mik, that became a central part of the Ruhrtriennale production ‘Die Fremden’ (2016), or the dance trilogy ‘Three Stages’ by American choreographer Richard Siegal (2017). A number of different formats including ‘Johan’s High Noon’ and the parties, film nights and workshops at the Refektorium invited both audience members and local residents to discussions with Ruhrtriennale artists and festival makers. “Be Embraced” was not just a programming concept: it was a promise made and kept by the Ruhrtriennale’s Artistic Director and team.  

Ticket sales: Around 37,500 tickets were available for the Ruhrtriennale 2017, of which 34,000 were taken up. By the end of the festival returns are calculated to reach 90% of box office capacity. The installations and events for which entry is free of charge have attracted a further 45,000 visitors. The best-attended productions of the 2017 season were ‘Pelléas et Mélisande’ with approx. 5,300 tickets sold, ‘Cosmopolis’ with over 3,000 tickets and ‘Kein Licht.(2011/2012/2017)’ with 2,400 tickets. On average, both the number of visitors to the Ruhrtriennale and the percentage of available tickets sold reached the highest levels in all three years.

Programme: In 2017 there were 135 performances of 41 productions, 28 of which were original or co-productions. There were 23 world premieres, new productions, German premieres and installations. Events were held at 14 different venues in Bochum, Dinslaken, Dortmund, Duisburg, Essen, Gladbeck and Mülheim an der Ruhr. The programme featured over 700 artists from some 30 nations. The Ruhrtriennale 2015-2017 has presented a total of 485 performances of 132 productions in industrial heritage sites, more than 10 of which were original or co-productions. More than 60 world premieres, new productions, German premieres and installations embraced the Ruhr region from 2015 to 2017. In these three years a total of 2,500 artists and 800 extras contributed to the Ruhrtriennale programme.

New Venues: The Ruhrtriennale opened another new venue in 2017. The Zentralwerkstatt at Zeche Lohberg, the former Lohberg mine in Dinslaken, became an experimental space for choreographer Meg Stuart to investigate paths towards a new artwork in ‘Projecting [Space[’. Throughout his artistic directorship Johan Simons made it a policy to discover new venues for the festival, often reaching out to the very edges of the Ruhr region. He began his artistic directorship with the music theatre work ‘Accattone’ in the Kohlenmischhalle at Zeche Lohberg. This voyage of discovery was continued in 2016 when the Ruhrtriennale visited six places of worship representing different faiths with ‘Urban Prayers Ruhr’ and presented the world premiere of ‘Die Fremden’ in the Kohlenmischhalle at the former Zeche Auguste Victoria in Marl. In each of the three years the art village ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ by Atelier Van Lieshout represented a significant part of the festival including the Refektorium that was established as a festival centre with its own programme in the first year and was able to offer this programme entirely free of charge in 2017.

Installations: The installations at the Ruhrtriennale 2017 – ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, ‘Europa’, ‘Truck Tracks Ruhr – The Compilation’ and ‘White Circle’ – aroused considerable interest. As in previous years ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ remained one of the festival’s most popular installations with some 16,000 visitors in 2017. The installation ‘White Circle’ by raster-noton, combining space, sound and light in the Kraftzentrale at the Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord, became an absolute magnet for audiences. Between 2nd and 16th September some 22,000 visitors let themselves be embraced by sound and light. The installation ‘Truck Tracks Ruhr – The Compilation’ in the Mischanlage at Zeche Zollverein recorded approx. 4,000 visitors. In the course of the last three years, over 100,000 people have visited installations as part of the Ruhrtriennale.

Campustriennale: 115 emerging artists from ten countries, including Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands or Norway took part in Campustriennale 2017, consisting of the college and the masterclass. Participants in the college attended Ruhrtriennale productions, took part in discussions with the artists or attended workshops, For the third year in succession the masterclass enabled three theatre companies to create their own productions with professional support from the Ruhrtriennale and Ringlokschuppen Ruhr and to perform these for the public as part of the festival. Over the three years of the current artistic directorship the Ruhrtriennale has given 365 emerging artists the opportunity to develop their artistic knowledge and skills and to present these before an audience. 

Teentalitarismus: For the second year in succession a territory was established under teenage control outside the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum in the middle of the art village ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’. The company Mit Ohne Alles, 40 young people from all parts of the Ruhr region with roots in nine different countries around the world, worked together with the Young Mammals from Toronto and the artists of Mammalian Diving Reflex to develop their contribution to the Ruhrtriennale 2017: a project marathon made up of 10 individual projects (performances, night walks and discussions with artists). On 30th September they will say goodbye for now, as the young people will give their last performance for the time being at 18.00 h in the Refektorium in Bochum: ‘The End of Everything’ – bidding farewell in their own individual way.

Professional visitors: In 2017 over 240 culture professionals, artists and theatremakers were accredited for the Ruhrtriennale from 14 countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Iran, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Switzerland and the USA. In the three seasons 2015 – 2017 a total of 730 professionals visited the festival from both Germany and abroad.

Accredited journalists: 280 journalists were accredited for the Ruhrtriennale 2017, coming from countries including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the USA. In addition to comprehensive print and online coverage there was also extensive radio and tv reporting (including tagesthemen, ttt, Westart). In Johan Simons’ three years as Artistic Director 930 journalists attended the festival from around the world, coming from countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden and the USA.

Tickets can be booked by phone on +49 (0) 221 / 280 210 or online at http://tickets.ruhrtriennale.de/eventim.webshop.
For further information accreditation and material in the form of images or texts, please visit www.ruhrtriennale.de/en and www.ruhrtriennale.de/en/press.


Project Funders 2017:
Innogy Foundation for Energy & Society — The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
RAG-Stiftung, RAG Montan Immobilien — Projecting [Space[
Stiftung Mercator — Teentalitarismus / Mit Ohne Alles
Kunststiftung NRW — ‘Three Stages’; ‘Truck Tracks Ruhr’
NRW.BANK — The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective
Fonds Podiumkunsten - Dutch Performing Arts
Flanders - State of the Art
Society of Friends and Supporters of the Ruhrtriennale
Stiftung pro Bochum
Kemnader Kreis
Brost Stiftung

The Ruhrtriennale is funded by its proprietors, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Regional Association Ruhr.