Martina Erbsová: Politics always finds you

"Small Avignon" — that´s how the off part of the International festival – Theatre of European Regions is sometimes called. The dramaturgy of Hradec Králové Open Air Program (this is its proper name) is realized by the dynamically developing cultural NGO kontrapunkt. Recently, it has taken over another important festival Jazz goes to town. The kontrapunt´s director is Martina Erbsová, not only an experienced manager and a public space activist, but also a candidate for regional elections.

Open Air Program has recently gained a reputation of one of the most sought-after summer theatre festivals. Could you tell us something about its dramaturgy and organizers?

Let me start with its origin. Open Air Program (OAP) was established in the year 2000 by Volné sdružení Východočeských divadelníků headed by Alexander Gregar who ten years after gave it over to o.s. Poco a poco animato, at that time leaded by Dominika Špalková (currently, an art director of the Drak Theatre). The association was renamed in 2013 and changed its legal form as well. Presently, kontrapunkt is the festival´s organizer.

A visitor who arrives to the June International festival - Theatre of European Regions, organized by Klicpera Theatre and Drak Theatre, naturally perceives whole event as one big organism. However, OAP is its independent part with its own history.

It has changed fundamentally during 16 years of its existence. As a consequence, currently as much as 20 various theatre and figurative performances, productions and concerts of independent professional and amateurish ensembles are realized daily. The dramaturgy depends mainly on the selection of the projects enrolled (this year, a deadline for the applications is on February 26th). Nevertheless, our aim is also to take a spectator to new locations and show him a town from a different perspective.

As you have just mentioned, the theaters may enroll until February 26th. Have you prepared any novelties?

This year, our intention is to occupy more the streets of Hradec. We focus on the issues like the use of public space and care for it, determination of borders between public and private, which we will try to elaborate mainly with the help of creative installations and other art interventions. As an example, I would like to mention a project Shining town (Zářící město), an experimental sound performance of Jan Mack and Táňa Švehlová taking place directly in one of the block of flats´houses and revealing life and stories of its inhabitants. I am very glad that with the help of this project we step out from the historic town centre, to which all the festival events concentrate otherwise.

The majority of your activities focuses on the locals. Isn´t this a reason for your candidature to the last regional elections?

Well, I guess it´s natural that if you do something for the community in a place you live in, the politics finds you. However, it had taken some time until I gave consent to my involvement in it. In spite of not feeling like a politician, I follow what is going on in my town and region, obviously. I do my best to contribute to the town´s development through my work. In my opinion, it is essential to show that if you are not content with something, it is in your hands to change it, be it with the help of a little thing. I have realized that some people see their civil duty merely as a possibility to vote. And if success doesn't come, then they only superfluously criticize — preferably on the social networks, indeed. On the other hand, a word partnership is something nearly unknown among the politicians. The elected representatives not rarely perceive their function in a style — you have elected us, thus do not interfere in our work and you will see us again on the campaign posters. Seldom they are interested in discussion and feedback. So these are the reasons — to be active and to set up partnership.

What has recently pleased you in the field of culture?

Let´s stay in Hradec. My greatest joy springs from two friends - Aneta and Natália - who opened up, after one year of great efforts and peripeteias, a community sauna NUUK (offering also cultural projects) on the Labe bank last November. Their energy and endurance is a great source of inspiration for others. Furthermore, it is a project that has once again placed Hradec Králové on a map of innovative, original and possibly world enterprises.

On the contrary, what has disappointed you?

In other to be balanced, Hradec again. The towns decision to place, without foregoing discussion on the need of doing so and without consecutive public tender, a new sculpture — figure on Malé Square in the historic centre.

And what are your wishes?

Totally selfishly? I wish we, in compliance with our plan, realized and mainly financially guaranteed both this year festivals – Open Air Program as well as October Jazz Goes to Town – and moved them one step further. Furthermore, our aim is to attempt to activate more young generation in Hradec so that they more intensively take part in organization of cultural events. And last, but not least, I would like to finish my studies and give birth to a healthy second child. And to go through all this without any harm.

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