Statement in response to the open letter concerning professional training at TQW

Bettina Kogler
© Paul Bauer
Bettina Kogler

Statement by Bettina Kogler (Artistic Director TQW) in response to the open letter by Wiener Perspektive Training & Education Group and the Initiative Tanz und Bewegungskunst Österreich from 15 February 2021

Dear Wiener Perspektive Training & Education Group,
Dear Initiative Tanz und Bewegungskunst Österreich,
Dear Veronica Kaup-Hasler,

Firstly, I want to stress our willingness to engage in a productive dialogue and that we are always open to new ways of thinking about TQW’s role and responsibility in matters training and advanced training opportunities for the local dance scene in Vienna.

In my last conversation with Wiener Perspektive Training & Education Group and the Initiative Tanz und Bewegungskunst Österreich, on 10 December 2020, I had already stated that the needs and wishes of the training community are varied and diverse, and that TQW with its limited resources will consequently never be able to completely live up to them. Having said that, I am also not in favour of ‘unhealthy’ monopolistic positions.

For this reason, I am fully committed to supporting a call for an additional professional training space for contemporary dance and choreography in Vienna.

However, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to some of the claims made in the open letter:

  • The position of artistic director was vacant during the 2017 renovation process. In accordance with my contractual obligations, I started working on 1st January 2018. Our training facilities were open immediately thereafter, starting February 2018.
  • Due to the incremental and ever-changing nature of the first lockdown regulations and the inconsistent supply of information from the government, TQW was not able to open its training facilities from mid-March until the end of June 2020. (Since 2001, TQW has never in its history been open for training during July and August.)
  • Like most European dance houses (Centre National de la Danse (Paris), K3 Kampnagel (Hamburg), Tanzhaus NRW or Tanzhaus Zürich), we agreed on not pursuing short-term, make-shift adjustments that would have required constant re-evaluation. We also had high hopes that we would be able to reopen soon again. At that time, we also received mostly critical and even negative responses from the artists regarding proposals for training to take place online. And, last but not least, the health and safety of our artists and employees has always been of primary concern to us.
  • Since its opening in 2001, public funding for TQW has only ever been raised once, with an additional sum of € 50.000 to cover increased rental costs (Halle G).
  • Nevertheless, the head of training & workshops at TQW has received a significant pay rise since I have taken over the artistic directorship, making this one among the few high-paid positions in our institutional structure. Giving an additional pay rise to this position would result in changes to the entire TQW salary structure and overall budget.
  • To cater for the various needs and requirements of the dance community, the number of training and workshop instructors has more than doubled since the beginning of my tenure as artistic director.
  • Regular feedback meetings between the head of training & workshops and the community are an integral part of the work and culture at TQW.

Finally, I would like to put on record that we are pushed to the limits with our current resources – there is only one suitable space for training and workshops. In addition to being a space for training, Tanzquartier Wien also provides rehearsal space (i. e. for co-productions and more) as well as space for other cooperative projects, including those involving the Wiener Perspektive Training & Education Group or the University of Vienna. Also, the 2020 residency programme, which took place in July and August, has received overwhelming support from the artists and has apparently struck a chord with the demands and needs of the local dance scene.

Thus, while a want for ‘more’ seems absolutely reasonable, TQW is unable to comply under the current circumstances.

Yours sincerely,
Bettina Kogler

16 February 2021