Sommerblut is a cultural pioneer. The Cologne cultural festival is always trying to anticipate developments in society.
Sommerblut draws the edge into the centre and brings the centre to the edge. The cultural festival lives the vision of cultural participation for all people, regardless of physical or mental disability, ethnic and social origin, age, sexual identity, gender and religion.
Sommerblut is experimental and touching. The cultural festival is risky, breaks with conventional ways of seeing and performing and brings together a wide variety of perspectives.
Sommerblut is cross-divisional. Dance, music, visual arts, performance, theatre and literature create a vivid and inspiring mix, combine expertise with innovative art forms and open up new dimensions of experience.
SOMMERBLUT, the „Festival of Multipolar Culture“, sees itself as an inclusive cultural festival that combines different social and political points of view and identities. The concept of inclusion is deliberately broadly defined here: physical and cognitive characteristics, forms of life, value systems, traditions, beliefs – everything that determines the identity of every human being and the daily discourse in our society. The festival invites you to a change of perspective, in the direction of a cross-border, courageous art and culture.
The patron of the festival is Jürgen Roters, former mayor of Cologne. The chairperson of the non-profit organizational body, the association “Sommerblut Kulturfestival e.V.” is Andrea Asch.
SOMMERBLUT is a cultural festival with an international flair. Guest companies from abroad enrich the festival schedule every year. From 2013 to 2015, the international theatre project TABUROPA dealt with cultural, historical and everyday taboos in Europe. Twenty theatre-makers, choreographers, actors and dancers from Belgium, Poland, Portugal and Germany explored the meaning of taboos in four performances. The premiere of TABUROPA took place at Sommerblut 2014 and the ensembles then traveled on to the participating cities of Brussels, Lisbon and Warsaw (www.taburopa.eu).
In 2018 SOMMERBLUT had around 6,000 visitors who participated in the 17th festival edition with 31 events and over 220 artists at 24 venues. Guests included local, national and international artists.
In the festival year 2019, SOMMERBLUT will focus on faith. Whether it is faith in god, in political worldviews, in UFOs or real love – we all do believe in something. But faith cannot be proven. Why do we believe and how do we deal with crises of faith? What are the differences between the denominations? What are the similarities? In dance and theatre performances, exhibitions and concerts SOMMERBLUT will show the different meanings, faith gives to our lives. In cooperation with the many religious communities that are based in Cologne, the festival is an important step towards tolerance and acceptance of differences.
Festival theme 2019: FAITH
We all believe, but in what? Whether it is faith in God, miracle cures, fairies, astrology, UFOs, in the good of human beings or political worldviews – faith makes life meaningful. It stands for firm beliefs that persistently defy any calls for verification and evidence. Sommerblut will focus on questions of faith and gives answers to the main question whether faith strengthens positive forces as courage and confidence or triggers fears and uncertainty.
Faith is diverse and belongs to human beings like their intellect. Faith is not limited to religions. It can give life direction and meaning, create confidence in a basic order, give identity to a single person or to a group and it can serve as a moral compass. It provides orientation in the chaos of possibilities, uncertainties and strokes of fate. It’s even scientifically proven that faith increases the subjective well-being and is beneficial to your health.
Having realized this, humans should be able to live without worrying about the particular beliefs of individuals or communities of faith. Some believe that God likes them to do their prayers multiple times per day, performing certain movements. Others believe that they could decide their destiny by knocking on wood three times before saying that they haven’t got a flu yet.
But obviously there is a problem: Faith means being uncertain. That is precisely the reason why people defend their beliefs with teeth and claws. You might have a certain belief, but dismiss all others. Most beliefs are non-negotiable and cannot be modified by compromises because they aren’t based on logic and evidence. You believe in something and the more you are convinced of your own beliefs the less tolerant you become of others.
This leads to passionate philosophical and theological debates, e.g. about the existence of God. In his science-fiction comedy ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘ Douglas Adams lets God himself have a say, “I refuse to prove that I exist,“ says God, „for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.” As the human being presents an irrefutable proof of God, he says, “Oh dear, I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
But the fun is over if it’s about the „one and only true“ faith. There is no need to go so far as to think of the persecution of religious minorities or the compulsory conversion of people of different faiths – even within religious communities there are many disagreements over questions of faith, which can lead to bloody religious wars.
The link between faith and art has archaic roots, because the origins of all art forms are inseparable from faith. Painting began with animal pictures on cave walls in the context of hunting rituals, the first drums were struck for the calling of ancestral spirits and totem animals, dance and drama emerged to get in touch with the Gods or to convey their stories in ritual actions to the faithful, and the most impressive buildings were created to give the cult a worthy place.
Even hostility against the arts of some denominations can be anchored in the faith itself, if beauty is equated with seduction and intoxication with uncontrollable devil’s work.
During the long stretch between Renaissance and Romanticism, the close link between art and religion came to an end. In the course of secularization, art turned to new topics. Now, non-religious beliefs such as political ideologies could come to the fore more prominently and be expressed or used in art.
In 2019 the cultural festival Sommerblut will be held from May 25 to June 11, which encompasses the close of Ramadan, the month of fasting. During Ramadan, devout Muslims abstain from food and most or all beverages from sunrise to sunset. Fast-breaking at sunset is the prelude to a nocturnal time of celebration and prayer. With its diverse customs – especially in terms of cuisine – Ramadan is similar to the Christian Advent season.
An important part of the festival programme will be collaborations with the many different religious communities that are based in Cologne. The mutual familiarization with religious traditions and ceremonies is an important first step towards tolerance and the respectful acceptance of differences.
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The Festival in numbers
THE FESTIVAL IN NUMBERS
- 2018: 6.000 visitors, 31 events and 24 venues
- 2017: 10.000 visitors, 38 events and 24 venues
- 2016: 15 years Sommerblut with 15.000 visitors, 80 events and 35 venues
- 2015: 11.000 visitors, 80 events and 30 venues
- 2014: 12.000 visitors, 80 events and 35 venues
- 2013: 11.000 visitors, 70 events and 40 venues
- 2012: 12.000 visitors, 60 events and 25 venues
- 2011: 18.000 visitors, 120 events and 35 venues
- 2010: 20.000 visitors, 150 events and 45 venues
- 2009: 23.000 visitors, 150 events @ 40 venues
- 2008: 20.000 visitors, 120 events and 25 venues
- 2007: 26 venues, 62 events with more than 300 artists; estimated number of visitors: 15.000
- 2006: 15 venues, 52 events with more than 100 artists, 14 Cologne premieres; estimated number of visitors: 10.000
- 2005: 28 events, 50 artists, nine Cologne premieres and ten venues; estimated number of visitors: 8.000
- 2004: 25 events @ Theaterhaus Köln, Limelight Köln, Gloria-Theater, Theater im Bauturm, Freies Werkstatt Theater; estimated number of visitors: 6.500
- 2003: 16 events @ Theaterhaus Köln and Limelight Köln, ca. 5.000 visitors
- 2002: 13 events @ Theaterhaus Köln and Limelight Köln; ca. 2.000 visitors