24 March 2013

CreativeCH Interview: Salzburg Showcase

Andreas Strasser, Manager of the CreativeCH's Salzburg showcase

Workshop at the Salzburg Youth Congress, 28.6.2012. Image: Salzburg Research, published under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0

The Volksgartenbad around 1900. Image: © Stadtarchiv Salzburg

The Volksgarten today. Image: Salzburg Research, published under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0

Interview with Andreas Strasser, manager of the CreativeCH showcase in Salzburg, Austria

In a nutshell, what is the concept of your showcase?

The World Heritage City of Salzburg has an internationally branded, stereotypical image of Salzburg. It highlights the historic ensemble of built heritage and, of course, Mozart, the famous Salzburg Festival and the Sound of Music tour.
The image attracts select visitors as well as busloads of day-trip visitors. Our showcase in Salzburg, however, is about communicating different aspects of heritage in more creative and diverse ways. The focus is on local views and experiences of heritage, particularly of young people, that are shared through interactive tools.

What are special or innovative features of your showcase?

Firstly, our perspective is different from the typical communication approach of cultural heritage institutions ("we tell you what your heritage is") or marketing agencies (“a must-see world heritage site”). Secondly, students play the core role in developing novel concepts for a more interactive and engaging communication of local heritage. Thirdly, the showcase is not technology-driven, i.e. not just promoting some fancy new technologies. It is primarily about cultural participation, inspiration and creative activities. 

How do you involve local organisations, students or other participants?

In the first phase we have been working with students to learn about what they perceive as local cultural heritage, how they relate to it, and what they would like to learn about it. In parallel, we have involved cultural heritage institutions and creative businesses. Some examples are the City Archive and the Department for the Preservation of the Historical City of Salzburg, and creative industry actors such as Utilo, a web and mobile applications company, or the CoWorkingSpace, which comprises a group of small businesses. The next steps will be to encourage the students to develop and present their local heritage communication concepts, and to explore – together with the heritage institutions and creative businesses – how some of them could be further developed into working prototypes.

What are your experiences and lessons learned as yet?

Through a survey that we conducted during the Science Night 2012 and a series of workshops at the Salzburg Youth Congress 2012, involving almost 200 students, we learned a lot about what cultural heritage means to students. Surprisingly, besides stereotypical notions about Salzburg’s built heritage there was much interest in intangible heritage, such as local traditions and customs. Also comparing one’s own cultural heritage with that of other cultures or combining traditional and popular performing arts was seen as important. Some cultural institutions and creative businesses have shown a keen interest in the showcase. For example, the City Archive has provided historical photographs for the showcase and Utilo is interested in combining it with their own media projects, such as their online art atelier.

How will you know that the showcase has been successful?

The biggest success would be that other historic towns in Europe take up our approach and develop their own creative heritage projects. In Salzburg we hope that the showcase will strengthen local views and experiences of heritage and promote alternative places rather than the typical tourist hotspots. We also want to continue the showcase beyond the CreativeCH project life-time, for example extending it to smaller historic towns in the region of Salzburg. With our showcase website, kreativkultur.salzburgresearch.at, we can also easily link up with similar or complementary initiatives in Austria.




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