Interview with David Dittrich, Contentus Moraviae Festival: The support of new names is crucial

6 August 2009

In an interview, David Dittrich, Director of the Contentus Moraviae Festival (Czech Republic), a unique musical event of the South Moravian and Vysočina Regions involving 20 towns in two countries, stresses the importance of “the presentation and co-creation of new names in the musical world.” Otherwise, according to Mr Dittrich, “it could happen that in just a few short years we would only have a very narrow group of overpriced artists who would be the only ones capable of attracting the public.” European Festivals Association (EFA): The 2009 edition of the Contentus Moraviae Festival under the motto “Ladies First” finished only recently. How did you manage to strike a balance between programming rather unknown or little-known names and ensuring the attendance of diverse audiences including the young generation? David Dittrich (DD): We paid an exceptional amount of attention to setting the proportions of the programme which we prepared with the Swiss dramaturge, Walter Labhart. Despite the fact that a number of the works of the female composers were not generally known, they were predominantly works of exceptional quality and in a number of cases they can be said to be great discoveries. If you supplement this with top performers of the young and middle generation who perform the works with enthusiasm, half your success is assured. We also enriched the classical programme with charismatic female performer-composers from the areas of jazz, alternative music, folk music and so on who further enhanced the atmosphere of this year’s festival. We are very pleased that the wider public accepted our dramaturgical plan with enthusiasm and considered this year’s programme to be one of the most interesting in the entire history of the festival. EFA: In how far do you see the Concentus Moraviae Festival as a platform for emerging artist and promising new talents? DD: Since the very inception of the festival, we have provided space to young artists and starting musicians and we intend to continue in this. If we did not assist in the presentation and co-creation of new names in the musical world, it could happen that in just a few short years we would only have a very narrow group of overpriced artists who would be the only ones capable of attracting the public. EFA: The organisation – one festival happening in over 20 towns across two countries – is unusual, demanding – very creative. What role did the potential of attracting tourism versus the artistic programme play in the decision to revive historical monuments in a broad area? DD: The role is significant. However, when we established the festival, we mainly wanted to establish an event which would bring high quality music to smaller towns. We make use of the wonderful spaces of chateaux, churches and castles, because they are paradoxically often the only places where the concerts can be organised. Nevertheless, any such revival of monuments through music is perceived very positively not only by the local public, but also by tourists who come to the Czech Republic in increasing numbers to visit the festival for that reason and to our delight often return regularly. By combining beautiful music and attractive spaces, we endeavour to make use of the unique genius loci of the South Moravian and Vysočina Regions. EFA: 2009 is the European Year of Creativity and Innovation. Which role do you see for festivals in the process of fostering innovative and creative talents? In how far does the FestLab for Creativity and Innovation help festivals in their mission to act as catalysts for creativity and innovation? DD: I am convinced that creativity and professionalism constitute the basis for the success of festival productions. Creative and innovative dramaturgy and the approach to the production and promotion of the festival can bring us the long-term interest of the public and also the option of organising attractive events for a relatively acceptable amount of money. Interesting and creative programmes constitute an opportunity for young talents to raise awareness of themselves in the offer of already established artists. The FestLab for Creativity and Innovation is an excellent idea of how to inspire the members of the European Festivals Association and festivals in general to achieve new views of the dramaturgy and to re-ask the question as to what the audience wants and how far they can go in wooing the audiences, i.e. so that we can put together attractive programmes of high artistic quality. If such a programme is able to be created, it is necessary to develop it and to find opportunities to use it in a number of other places; it is therefore an excellent opportunity to establish cooperation and co-productions. The FestLab is an exceptionally interesting challenge and it is only up to us how to bring this idea to life. David Dittrich In 1996, David Dittrich founded the Contentus Moraviae Festival. In 2004, Mr Dittrich initiated the formation of the all-European Czech Dreams triennial. The project follows on from the principles of the Contentus Moraviae festival and it has been conceived as a contribution to the revival of cultural co-operation between European regions. 85 towns from 19 European states participated in the Czech Dreams project last year. Mr Dittrich is involved in long-term co-operation between regions within the EU (such as Utrecht (NL), Gers (F), Lodż (PL), Lower Austria) and in the question of financing joint projects supporting regional cultural events. He has co-operated with a number of regions. Related documents: • FestFlash on Creativity and Innovation No 3/July 2009