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The New Director of Berliner Festspiele

23.09.2021


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Today, the board of directors of Kulturveranstaltungen des Bundes in Berlin (KBB) GmbH, chaired by Monika Grütters, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, appointed the dramaturg, curator and theatre manager Matthias Pees as the new director of Berliner Festspiele. On 1 September 2022, he will take over the position from Thomas Oberender, who has been director of Berliner Festspiele since 2012 and will leave the institution at the end of the year at his own request. 


Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Monika Grütters: “In Matthias Pees, we welcome a renowned theatre and festival professional as the new director of Berliner Festspiele. Following successful professional stations both in Germany and abroad, he now returns to a cultural institution in the capital that is steeped both in tradition and innovation, with the aim of merging the wide range of audience expectations with the varied challenges of festival production. I am convinced that with Matthias Pees on board, the Berliner Festspiele will continue to shine far beyond the city's borders in the future.“

“I am very much looking forward to the great challenge of heading Berliner Festspiele”, said Matthias Pees. “As an institution, it is both rich in history and eminently contemporary. It has a strong team, two great houses, outstanding, optimally positioned individual festivals and programme series as well as Gropius Bau with its innovative and pioneering exhibition programme. I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to take over such a flagship of contemporary arts from Thomas Oberender and I would like to thank him, the artistic directors, managers and individual teams for keeping it on a course towards the future in such a courageous, decisive and unbiased fashion. Together with Berliner Festspiele’s staff and partners, I would initially like to discuss how to continue, develop and perhaps slightly restructure this successful work.”  


Photo, BKM/ Thomas Imo  


Thomas Oberender: “I am very pleased with Matthias Pees’ appointment. As an author, dramaturg and artistic director, he stands for programmes and artists connecting new aesthetics and social commitment, both in repertoire operations and festivals, and looking far beyond the confines of Western European cultural production. He is as familiar with Berlin and its great cultural institutions as he is with its independent scene. I wish him all the best as the new director of Berliner Festspiele with Gropius Bau.”



Matthias Pees was born in Georgsmarienhütte in 1970. As both artistic and managing director of the international production house Künstlerhaus Mousonturm in Frankfurt/Main (2013–2022), leading dramaturg at Wiener Festwochen (2010–2013), founder and co-managing director of the international production agency prod.art.br. in São Paulo (2004–2010), programme dramaturg at Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen (2003–2004), theatre dramaturg at schauspielhannover (2000–2003) and at Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz (1995–2000) and, previous to that, as an arts journalist and theatre critic, he gained experience in various fields and several aspects of the performing arts.  

New perspectives, cooperative ways of working and “transformative practises” have been a declared focus of his interest. Topics like global solidarity and post-colonialism or the connection and future of internationality and diversity have informed his programmes and projects. In Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main-region, he initiated or contributed to large-scale interdisciplinary festivals and cooperation projects with partners including Ensemble Modern, the Jewish Museum Frankfurt, the Hessian State Ballet or most recently Schauspiel Frankfurt, Museum Angewandte Kunst and Frankfurt’s independent scene for for the organisation of the festivals “Politik im freien Theater” of the Federal Agency for Civic Education’s (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb) and “Theater der Welt” of the International Theatre Institute’s festival (ITI) . 

Once he takes office, Matthias Pees will also become a member of the business management of Kulturveranstaltungen des Bundes in Berlin (KBB) GmbH, along with Mariette Rissenbeek, Charlotte Sieben and Prof Dr Bernd M. Scherer. In January 2023, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung will accede to Prof Scherer’s position as director of Haus der Kulturen der Welt. 

Berliner Festspiele, who celebrate their 70th anniversary this year, run two venues in Berlin: Martin-Gropius-Bau as an exhibition hall and Haus der Berliner Festspiele as a festival venue. Throughout the year, the institution organises a host of international festivals and guest performances, exhibition projects and individual events. Currently, they include the festivals “MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues”, “Theatertreffen”, “Musikfest Berlin”, the programme series “Immersion” as well as “Jazzfest Berlin”. In addition, there are four National Contests to promote emerging talents.  

Berliner Festspiele are a division of Kulturveranstaltungen des Bundes in Berlin (KBB) GmbH and are funded from the budget for culture and the media. 

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