Jan Kunze: To moralize on Facebook, to use the Havel’s name …Honza, you are said to be a “lone wolf " dramaturgist... is it true?
Opava is said to be out of hand, but we can’t say it “does someone's bidding". This is particularly true as far as the variety of cultural offer is concerned. Many larger towns can only dream about such a variety. Actually, Jan Kunze is quite similar to Opava. He manages a unique Art Club, he is a poet and a curator, he manages publishing house, he is involved in several musical projects and he can address a theater audience which can’t be taken for granted. Occasionally, he sets off to other side of the world ... Opava also traditionally hosts the Malá inventura festival, which is an annual theater challenge for the audience. The last year was really a good one.
A dramaturgist significantly influences the space he or she is in charge of, be it a theater, a festival or a club. I try to watch the scene, reflect current themes and create unusual formats that people enjoy. At the same time, I try to initiate and invent original projects that are so good and interesting that other dramaturgists, curators or institutions from other places would like to procure them. A number of such projects has been successful in the past and has appeared in several towns, including Prague, which makes me very happy and confirms that this is the right way. As far as the dramaturgy is concerned, let's say it may look like I'm a loner. However, in other aspects, I do not think I'm a loner. I am surrounded by a number of great and capable collaborators.
Not a long time ago, an exceptionally audience-successful third annual of the festival Malá inventura was held in Opava. How do you set up the program, what are your priorities?
This year's Malá inventura festival in Opava was a real success. The people were really interested in the program. Actually, the capacity of the hall wasn’t sufficient in case of the performance Uhozené květinou. Malá inventura is a specific festival, because some performances can only be appreciated by an experienced and educated audience. And this has to be taken into account. However, the main criteria for me are originality, crossing of genre boundaries and the potential to attract people. Art should communicate. If it loses this basic function and becomes too elitist, it is no longer appealing to me. This also applies to theater performances.
There are those who believe that cultural offer in Opava often exceeds demand? At least as far as the activities realized by the municipality are concerned. What is your view on this issue?
First of all, I am glad to have the opportunity to work in a town that is so cultural. It's definitely better than living in a town that does not offer anything like that. Indeed, in Opava, the cultural offer is really rich and incomparably higher than in similarly big towns. But the problem is a bit more complicated. It is the Opava grant system in which the Cultural Commission (a system of election of its members is not understandable to me) recommends what actions and projects should be supported by the municipality, what should be revised and changed.
At present, it seems that the Cultural Commission gives priority to the organizers of events more than to the artists and people who create something. I do not consider this approach to be an appropriate one. In my view, the meaningful actions as well as performing artists, artists and projects that can represent the town beyond its borders and have a certain quality should be equally supported. Transparency of the entire grant system is essential. The criteria for assessing the meaningfulness and quality of outputs should be clearly defined. Additionally, it is unacceptable that some of the members of the municipal Cultural Committee approve the grants on the one hand, but on the other hand, as the organizers of the events, benefit the grants. From my point of view, this is a conflict of interest.
What are you working on now?
In January, we will build a Mongolian yurt in the park and for 10 days there will be animations for children, lectures, concerts as well as the fourth annual of poetry marathon. In addition, I would also like to continue with a project in which I present the Czech artists with an overlap to more artistic spheres. On the occasion of the exhibition, we always publish a representative catalog. The exhibition is accompanied by concerts and lectures as well as amusement programs for children and adults. In the spring, we will release a new video clip of our KOFE-IN band called We Know Where. Furthermore, in Prague we will baptize the literary and musical project Abendland, on which a number of Czech musicians participated. We are also currently preparing an exhibition and publication on the occasion of ten years of the Perplex Publishing, titled "Do not send us any more manuscripts”. Historical documentary materials mapping the post-revolutionary literary roots that Perplex was inspired by will be presented there. In addition, I try to go on with the work on my third book, but it's hard.
What has pleased you recently?
I have been mostly delighted by meeting with friends and family. For example, a recent meeting of the cultural network Nová síť in Varnsdorf or a meeting with long-time friends in northern Poland on the Hel Peninsula made me very happy. And my great hobby is to travel. This year, I have visited Namibia and have met the members of the African Himba tribe who still live their original way of life. I was very moved by this experience.
On the contrary, what has disappointed you?
There is a certain disillusionment coming up with age. And recently, I have been disappointed by some people. They speak a lot, but no work can be seen beyond them. They do not hold the word, they do not respect the work and they are envious. They slander, but they also intentionally harm others. However, it is little wonder. Such people do not have problems with hiding in the crowd, moralizing on Facebook, using the Havel’s name, criticizing politicians, all done using the same methods as those who they criticize.
What are your wishes?
More love for all!