Darmstadt is a city of literature. Besides the nationally and internationally active and renowned literary institutions based here, there has also been a house of literature administered by the city in the John F. Kennedy house since 1995. What makes this house so special is that it pools a variety of different literary and cultural interests together.
Readings by the authors are the true mainstay of the Literaturhaus. In two high-quality semi-annual programmes, the facility invites people to focus on contemporary literature.
Since 1997, local author Kurt Drawert has been running a writing workshop in the Darmstadt Literaturhaus, which is known beyond the region, became the “Zentrum junge Literatur” (centre for young literature) in 2004 with the opening of a “Lesebühne” (reading stage) for first public appearances by the younger generation of authors, and is considered an experimental ground for literary talents. That targeted promotion is bearing fruit, for, time and again, participants successfully manage to continue on their literary way and draw attention from the literary scene through their own publications.
Other literary and cultural facilities, including in the fields of art, photography and music, have their seats in the Darmstadt Literaturhaus and contribute to the complete programme with their own events. They represent the third pillar of the Literaturhaus. By combining all offerings, up to 170 events are held in the lecture hall every year.
In the autumn of 2009, the operating council for the administrator of the Literaturhaus, the Darmstadt municipal enterprise for the cultural institutions of the city of science, decided to further develop the quality of this municipal facility. The goal is that all institutions in the Literaturhaus take advantage of their opportunities to cooperate actively in terms of content and organization in order to attract a larger audience. Moreover, external cooperation is to contribute to expanding the event programme and improve the public appeal of the Literaturhaus.
Implementing those new ways required changes that are already bearing fruits. The thematic orientation of the reading programme is a novelty. The programme manager Adrienne Schneider is setting new directions in the event programme. She has further managed to initiate cooperation with the cultural centre “Centralstation” and the book club “Buch des Monats”. She could also win some of the associations in the Literaturhaus over to participate in organizing an exciting programme. That resulted in an unconventional literary offering of high quality, meant to attract a new and mostly younger audience at other venues as well.
Another novelty consists of a show room set up by “Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie” (Darmstadt days of photography) in the lobby of the lecture hall with current photographic posts beyond the established festival.
The new internet presence, which provides an up-to-date introduction of all institutions participating in the programme of the Literaturhaus with their events, as well as an attractive corporate design graphically and virtually convey the “new” Literaturhaus.
Moreover, the coordination office of the Literaturhaus has established itself as the contact point and information centre for collaborative exchanges on the one hand and for all who are interested in finding out more about what is going on there on the other hand.
The future of the Darmstadt Literaturhaus has a good base thanks to a personal and open-minded image. Committed work on the new concept is to be continued. It is not enough for the Literaturhaus to initiate, it must also evolve.
Dr. Inge Lorenz studied art history, modern German literature and classical archaeology at the University of Frankfurt on the Main. She obtained a doctorate in philosophy at the Saarland University in Saarbrücken. Since 1996, the author has been active for the city of Darmstadt. Initially, she was in charge of public relations for the International Music Institute of Darmstadt. Then, she was active as deputy head and assistant spokesperson of the Federal Press and Information Office. From 2006 to July 2010, Inge Lorenz was cultural commissioner; she is now head of the cultural office and top operating manager of the Darmstadt municipal enterprise for the cultural institutions of the city of science.