Salzburg Festival Salzburg Festival

CEO Note - July

Reflect, another half year behind us.

As the darkness gives way to a new dawn, shadows of uncertainty linger each day. 

Reset, considered optimism lights the way ahead until Christmas.

Sprouts of unexpected adaptations coming to realisation. 

The Salzburg Festival is celebrating its 100th anniversary season in 2020. Bucking the coronavirus-prompted trend of cancelling cultural events, it is going ahead with performances featuring casts interacting closely and full orchestras in the pit.

A poster advertising this year’s Salzburg Festival bears a quotation from one of the festival’s founders, the poet and dramatist Hugo von Hofmannsthal:

“Wo der Wille erwacht, dort ist schon fast etwas erreicht.”

Roughly translated: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Throughout the month of August, a total of 110 performances on 30 festival days have been scheduled, including two operas, three theatre productions and 53 concerts, as well as other supporting events — way more shows than expected.

The Salzburg Festival was founded at a time of abject misery as a courageous project against the crisis. Max Reinhardt was convinced that only the arts could reconcile the people, even peoples, whom war had driven into battle against one another. Art not as decoration, but as the food and meaning of life. 

Coronavirus is the greatest challenge our society has faced since the end of World War II. Never has cultural life in democratic countries been curtailed so severely in peacetime. 

‘In times governed by a certain lack of orientation, the Festival made decisions which will hopefully turn out to be the right ones in retrospect. The fact that we waited to decide whether there would be a Festival was a mixture of hope, dreaming and perhaps also intuition that the pandemic’s case numbers might move in a direction which enabled people to assemble again. For that and nothing else is what a festival is about. During the past weeks, we have seen that people’s longing for such assemblies has become overwhelming. Even the virtual offerings and streams cannot quench this sense of longing, lacking any aura of art. We will experience a Festival this year that is different which conforms with each security requirement,’ says Artistic Director Markus Hinterhäuser.

Revival from hope, dreaming and responsible planning

Like many companies, we have incurred an avalanche of shifting dates, postponements, and cancellations. Some days are filled by seemingly endless unwinding.

Yet the slowing down allows a freshness of thinking. Time to contemplate and ruminate free of deadlines and lower on expectations yet with a forward mindset on how the future is likely to be influenced.

We will be keen observers of the different learnings that rise from the experience that the visitors, performers and festival organisers share across the social platforms during August from Salzburg to help shape our preparation further as things resume.

Our largest current project, the World Expo2020 hosted in Dubai is postponed into 2021. The global mega event will now run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, a delay that allows all participants to safely navigate the impact of COVID-19, and allows the World Expo to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time.

How we add new layers of innovation to streamline the entire volunteer journey  for World Expo2020 from registration to conducting interviews, managing headcount and communications, automating assignments using state of the art algorithms, scheduling and rostering participants to a shift for the 100,000 volunteers and paid staff on a centralized, cloud based platform, is stimulating for our team.

We are poised and ready to play our role in shaping the different way that business will be done ahead by being reliable, secure, responsive, and safe.