Forum Stadtpark: interdisciplinary artistic experiments since 1959
The FORUM STADTPARK can be an exhibition space, a concert hall, a space for discussion, a theatre, a music club, a cinema, a lecture hall, a gesamtkunstwerk. For over sixty years, it has dedicated itself to be an artistic experiment, and has been the birth place for much that has shaped cultural life both in Styria and in Austria to this day.
Since the very beginning, FORUM STADTPARK has understood contemporary art as something that does not (only) focus inwards. It takes its energy from dealing with societal questions and taking a stance. According to its statutes, FORUM STADTPARK aims at standing up to every instance of constraint on the freedom of intellectual and artistic life with appropriate measures.
Program and Structure
Currently the program of the FORUM STADTPARK contains the sections architecture, fine art, social politics, photography, literature, music, and performance. The various people responsible in those sections are elected by the association for a maximal timespan of eight years and are given a certain budget in order to carry out the intended program. Within the so-called "program forum" the program is coordinated and interdisciplinary projects are worked on.
The FORUM STADTPARK is run by a board elected by the association. Besides those responsible for the program, who all work on a royalty basis, there is a team of employed people in the offices, the technical department, cleanup, a.o as well as many others working in a minimal employment capacity or as freelancers. All in all there are more than 40 people regularly at work here.
Apart from its own productions organized in-house, the FORUM STADTPARK also welcomes a number of outside productions in its space. The bulk part of the program is represented by the many cooperations with various local and regional initiatives.
Self-Understanding and Scale
The FORUM STADTPARK understands itself as an open house that intends to offer everyone access to art and culture. Thus most of our productions take place with free admission. We are working hard to create an inviting and respectful space, and are trying to dismantle barriers.
As a collective representing the interests and creating actions by and for artists and intellectual labourers, the FORUM STADTPARK often shines a light on the production relationships within our own field. Theory and practice can only every be thought of together, working relations and hierarchies are as important as artistic standpoints. That is why we also strive to implement the Fair Pay guidelines of the IG Kultur as an institution.
In a regular year the FORUM STADTPARK hosts around 150-200 events, and counts more than twenty thousand visitors. Apart from fees, sales, sponsoring, and hospitality, the largest part of the income comes from support by the city of Graz, the state of Styria, and the responsible ministries of the federal government. All together the FORUM STADTPARK operates with a revenue of circa 500 000 € per year.
Markus Gönitzer organises discourse events in the fields of social policy and political theory. In addition to his work at Forum Stadtpark, he is involved in the Container 25 association and the Peršmanhof memorial. He finds his inner peace in the punk band Red Gaze and other band firstname.lastname@example.org
Has been working as a freelance performer, director and theatre-maker since 2010. Co-founder of the Graz performance collective Das Planetenparty Prinzip. In 2020, she was awarded the Start Stipend for Performing Arts by the Federal Chancellery. Formerly responsible for the performance section, she is now part of the management email@example.com
*1981 in Banjaluka SFRY. Independent architectural theorist, cultural worker and utopian. Studied architecture and philosophy in Graz, Venice and Delft and worked at the akk of TU Graz and ESALA Edinburgh. She leads the project Grazotopia (Cultural Year 2020) and works for CITY<>HOSPITAL (cultural association f.act).firstname.lastname@example.org
*in Lubumbashi/Dem. Rep. Congo, lives in Graz. He writes poetry, prose and plays. For his novel Tram 83 he received, among others, the International Literature Prize - House of World Cultures and the Peter Rosegger Literature Prize. The play Zu der Zeit der Königinmutter was performed at Akademietheater Vienna and Deutsches Theater Berlin.email@example.com
Curator, art educator and cultural anthropologist. Curates site-specific and site-sensitive exhibitions and enjoys discussing art. Since 2013 he has been working in the education department at the Universalmuseum Joanneum. In free projects he explores the city of Graz collectively and artistically-scientifically. He works with Birgit Kulterer on the collection of the city of Graz. (Photo: Alfred Lenz)firstname.lastname@example.org
Musician, performer, curator, cultural manager as well as freelance copywriter, editor, translator, speaker - regularly for the platforms Freistil-Magazin, Rokkos Adventures, as well as ArtFaces. Active at Elevate-Festival, Wak-Music, Wbmotion, mur.at, V:NM, klingt.org. Responsible for the music section since 2015 (Photo: Manfred Werner)
Social pedagogue, Sara was a guest lecturer at the University of Klagenfurt and is currently a PhD student at the University of Graz. She is part of various political collectives in Graz and has done discoursive and activist work and organised events on various socio-political email@example.com
Since 2006 performer in numerous productions at TaO!, Mezzanin Theatre, Forum Stadtpark, La Strada and the Planeten Party Prinzip. Theatre pedagogical training at TaO! 2012-14. 2017 dance and performance training at ImPulsTanz. Art Space Scholarship Holder of the Province of Styria 2017/2018. Since 2019 responsible for the performance firstname.lastname@example.org
Studies at the Linz University of Art, works as a painter and artist as well as in the bar team at Forum Stadtpark.email@example.com
In addition to his existence as guitarist of the experimental Graz avant-garde band "Heifetz", songwriter, singer and spokesman for the everyday canalisation project "Familie Geschrey" and graphic designer and founding member of "Nights Im Bunker", the musician and trash artist is also our technical director, together with Sebastian Schröck.firstname.lastname@example.org
Studies at the Department of Experimental Design at the Kunstuni Linz and works both as an animal preparator and behind the bar at the Forum Stadtpark.email@example.com
Chiara works at the bar and also takes care of the Awareness work in the club context. In her free time she is musically and also artistically firstname.lastname@example.org
Formally responsible for the music section Filipa has remained in the back office of the house. She coordinates all dates and the production of events. She is also responsible for the bigMaMa concerts in Graz and has been mixing up the music scene for many years as feelipa with the disko404 crew and Zagreb's CFSN DJ email@example.com
Photographer and cultural worker, in Graz since 2005. Formerly active at many festivals such as steirischer herbst, Diagonale and Elevate, she now also works in the back office and bar organisation at Forum Stadtpark.firstname.lastname@example.org
Sherif takes care of making us all feel comfortable in FORUM STADTPARK.email@example.com
Photographer and anthropologist Lena and a team of external photographers take care of the photo documentation of our firstname.lastname@example.org
The unrecognized accountant works with downtempo Excel, experimental DIN standardization and does not play in any band. He is currently active at Forum Stadtpark thanks to a BMKOES email@example.com
Miles studies Computer Music & Sound Art at the University of Arts Graz and is also active in the DJ and event firstname.lastname@example.org
Sherif takes care of making us all feel comfortable in FORUM STADTPARK.email@example.com
Mojca works in the bar team and takes care of the overall bar firstname.lastname@example.org
The concert organiser and cultural journalist has been with the house since 2013 and is now responsible for finances, press and archives. (Photo: Lena Prehal)email@example.com
Sebastian has been working as a house technician since 2019. Together with Arne Glöckner, he takes care for the technical management in the firstname.lastname@example.org
The house includes over three different event spaces for various needs as well as additional infrastructure:
The main room on the ground floor has been offering space for contemporary art production for over sixty years, as well as acting as the main space for all larger events in the house: Ranging from exhibitions, to theatre productions, readings, discussions, and concerts. The room is around 170 square metres and the window front can be partially opened to access the park.
The saloon in the first floor is used as a day to day meeting place and cultural hub. It regularly hosts workshops, discussion, readings, smaller concerts, and exhibitions. The terrace acts as a connecting element between fresh air and discourse.
The black cellar is the production and performance space with a club atmosphere and bar. It is the connection to contemporary music, theatre, and sound installation, for evenings of improvisation and club culture. Experiments in the darkness underground.
The archive of the FORUM STADTPARK is the central hub for the memory of artistic, political, social, philosophical, and societal discourse in Graz – and has been for over half a century. In addition to this, after prior consultation all of the print publications from the FORUM STADTPARK publishing house can be viewed.
The online archive of our old web page is available under this link.
During the summer of 1958, the "Junge Gruppe", including the artists Othmar Carli, Gustav Zankl and Günter Waldorf, requested permission to permanently use the vacant former Stadtpark Café for art related events. However, the city council rejected this proposition and decided to demolish the building. It was only after protests of the press, politicians and several art societies that a deadline was set for the acquisition of the funds required for the maintenance of the building. The fund raising was successful and on 15th January 1959 FORUM STADTPARK’s constitutional assembly took place. In November 1960, the building was officially opened with the exhibition "Bekenntnis und Konfrontation".
As a self-managing artist association FORUM STADTPARK’s ideals were to promote the interests of people engaged in the cultural sector, more so than ever before. The building was to serve as a podium specifically for young artists and scientists. The founders expected their association to cover all aspects related to culture, including aesthetically traditional, historical, political and didactic issues, the result of which was a division of nine equal departments. However, during the 60s, the amount of theoretical projects decreased. The initial goal to cover a broad spectrum of culture was replaced with a focus on contemporary arts and literature.
In the 60s and 70s, FORUM STADTPARK was established as one of the few places of presentation and production of progressive art and literature. Similarly, its self-perception underwent a transformation from an organisation generally devoted to culture to an art association and also incorporated a publishing house. International public attention was attracted by its literature journal manuskripte, which was founded in 1960. In addition, the photography journal Camera Austria, the film journal blimp, the literature journal Absolut, the essay journal Liqueur as well as the journal schreibkraft were now published here and the avant-garde festival steirischer herbst was initiated.
In 1995, Alfred Kolleritsch resigned as chairman in favour of Walter Grond, which lead to the replacement of most functionaries, abstractors and other staff members. This radical change was supposed to make the increasingly elitist association approachable to young artists again and consequently expected to revolutionise its rigid idea of “Avantgarde”. The different departments were dissipated; organisational and artistic issues were separated from each other, which discouraged projects that evolved around individuals. The FORUM STADTPARK theatre, Camera Austria and manuskripte parted ways.
In 1997, Peter Zinagel succeeded Walter Grond. During his tenure, the house was rebuilt and a first floor was added. In 2003, Anton Lederer became chairman and combined the separate departments to form one committee in charge of cultural work – the Programmforum. This new development was a significant step in the encouragement of interdisciplinary work. In 2009, FORUM STADTPARK celebrated its 50 year jubilee with Bernhard Wolf as chairman.
In 2011 Heidrun Primas took over the management and declared the FORUM STADTPARK as Town Hall of Hearts. FORUM STADTPARK sees itself as an interdisciplinary space devoted to a wide concept of arts and interdisciplinary work. On three floors, 150 events including architecture, literature, fine arts, photography, music, performance and theoretical contents take place each year. The association’s claim is to present a laboratory and a platform to many circles of local, Austrian and international culture production.
The online archive of the period is available under this link.
From 2021 on, Markus Gönitzer, Robin Klengel and Miriam Schmid manage FORUM STADTPARK collectively. Building on the work of the last years, the artistic forces are to be increasingly bundled and themes set. Each year, the FORUM is given a different, programmatic subtitle, beginning with: FORUM STADTPARK - Center for Security" in 2022. As a House for the City*, it will continue to provide space for interdisciplinary artistic scenes and consciously engage in (cultural) political debates.
1995-1997: W. Grond / P. Zinganel (deputy chairperson) / G. Ostanek (treasurer)
1997-2003: P. Zinganel / G. Muhr (dep. chairp.) / G. Ostanek (treas.)
2003-2007: A. Lederer / R. Binder-Krieglstein (dep. chairp.) / A. Putz (treas.)
2007-2009: B. Wolf / C. Peschl (dep. chairp.) / A. Putz bzw. ab 2008 K. Petrowitsch (treas.)
2009-2011: C. Peschl / H. Primas (dep. chairp.) / K. Petrowitsch (treas.)
2011-2017: H. Primas / J. Schrettle (dep. chairp.) / U. Musil (treas.)
2017-2021: H. Primas / R. Klengel (dep. chairp.) / E. Gruber (treas.)
since 2017: R. Klengel / M. Schmid / M. Gönitzer (collective)
In order to use the space of the FORUM STADTPARK for an external event you are welcome to send us an application. As our spacial and personal resources are limited we would ask for your understanding however that many applications have to be denied. Expense contributions can vary depending on the length, extent of the event, and the financial situation of the applicants. The program forum as well as the board are responsible for the decision on whether or not an application is granted.
Those who work in the fields of art, culture, and research, either as a full time occupation or on an honorary basis, can apply for a full membership at the general assembly of the collective. Full members can take part in shaping the development of the house through their right to vote in the general assembly. There are regular meeting or special assemblies for members. You can become a member for 40€ or 15€ at a discounted price per year.
All other persons are welcome to become supporting members, self-less contributors of art and culture for a yearly contribution of 40€.