general shift in public discurse – questions and strategies for workers in the arts

Dinner and debate on Monday 17th June at 8.30 pm  in the tent on the theatre forecourt.

In Europe there has been a rhetorical shift – and Arts, Cultural and Social policy needs to engage with it. In an inhospitable environment, having a communications and action strategy isn’t enough on its own; first of all Arts and Cultural leaders and institutions need to agree a common position.

The 35th WESTWIND-Festival has created a programme under the banner "Open Society".  On Monday 17th June at 8.30pm we will discuss ideas and share experiences together over dinner. Berlin-based author and theatre maker Simone Dede Ayivi, Lenard Suermann of the Mobile Counsel Against Right-wing Extremism and Philip Husemann, Managing Director of the "Open Society" Initiative, will provide stimulus arising from their areas of work. What’s the best way to establish what’s really happening in NRW? Where is the enthusiasm for the New Right coming from? How does structural racism contribute to the emergence and strengthening of this ominous shift in public discourse. What does it mean for theatre aimed at younger audiences? What experiences have Children’s and Young People’s theatres encountered and what challenges do they face? Dramaturge Kirstin Hess moderates the Tabletalk.




Kirstin Hess is dramaturge at the Junges Schauspiel/ D’haus and one of four speakers for the Theatre for Young Audiences’ working circle. She has worked in Berlin’s independent scene, for Theater Junge Generation Dresden, Grips Theater Berlin and for various judging panels. Her focus in on devising, script development, frameworks for debating civil society.


simone dede ayivi

Simone Dede Ayivi is a writer and theatre-maker. Her performances discuss questions of identity and representation, German-ness and xenophobia, resistance and community. She looks at ways to remember and reclaim – to make black faces and black experience visible. Using Afrofuturist narratives, she creates a space in the theatre for Utopias, where she and her audience can together imagine a future where there is solidarity.


philip husemann

Philip Husemann is Managing Director of the "Open Society" Initiative and wants to strengthen democratic engagement through analogue and digital means. He is a founding member of HateAid. This Democracy-Start-up exposes the workings and impact of populist hate campaigns and strengthens civil engagement. Through his work he is fighting against hatred and political disenchantment and is committed to furthering democratic coexistence and cohesion in our society.


lenard suermann

Lenard Suermann is a social scientist and active in mobile counselling against right-wing extremism in NRW. He advises and mentors individuals, groups and initiatives facing racism, antisemitism and right-wing extremism. Following the principle of ‘helping people to help themselves’ he works with clients to develop appropriate strategies.