What are some creative new broom designs
"New brooms sweep differently"
Burgenland creative industries: In your opinion, has the artists' village Neumarkt an der Raab retained the lifestyle of the 1960s? And if so, what was the decisive factor?
Petra Schmögner: Of course, a lot had to change, we are no longer living in the 1960s, but the special could be retained. It was the archaic lifestyle here that enabled the artists to concentrate on the essentials, the work. In our artists' village there was and still nobody was lying around in deckchairs; people are working here. With its possibilities, Neumarkt is quite simply a highly creative place.
Burgenland creative industries: There is no question that the values in the field of art have changed. What about the artists' village and its value in the eyes of society today?
Petra Schmögner: 40 years ago people still thought the artists were all mad. It was the time of upheaval and new life models. Neumarkt was so wonderfully simple and therefore exotic for the artists. Even then, some of the residents were very open to the artists, the other part cursed the entire artist village and feared a second flood.
Burgenland creative industries: If you apply the value to the economic situation, where does the artist village stand today?
Petra Schmögner: The bureaucratic effort has become much greater, which is why the cosiness has been lost a bit. With our two employees and two freelancers, we are most likely the largest employer in the region next to the Grenzwirt (smiles).
Burgenland creative industries: How do you get the artist village through time financially?
Petra Schmögner: Thank goodness the Jennersdorf region is no longer that dead. We live here and now in the middle of a tourist region, our target group are the so-called post materialists. So people for whom a mere thermal spa holiday alone is not enough. Great course instructors work in our summer academy who get a lot out of the participants. Of course, the region also benefits from us. After all, the students and artists leave their money here. In summer we often have 30 to 40 people a week here in the artists' village. We don't have that many rooms and beds, so it pays off for the pensions and hotels here.
Burgenland creative industries: How do you manage the balancing act of, on the one hand, keeping art as the greatest asset and, at the same time, making ends meet in the artist village?
Petra Schmögner: This balancing act is actually very difficult. When I took over the association, the artists' village was financially on the brink. This was mainly due to the failure to address a new audience over the years. There were only regulars who practically held a monopoly. But this audience was getting older and older, and new guests were literally expelled. So it was necessary for someone like me to bring a breath of fresh air to the village after all these years. New brooms sweep differently. I hadn't planned on doing everything differently, but a lot better. We have built a very good website, worked a lot with search engine optimization and gained new course instructors, i.e. new artists. This also brought new audiences, which meant that the artists' village could now be placed on a solid economic basis.
Burgenland creative industries: In your opinion, what does the artist village offer its artists and what does it get in return from them?
Petra Schmögner: It offers you the opportunity to work in peace in a professionally equipped setting. We also cooperate with many universities and art colleges, whose students find ideal working conditions here. The students in Neumarkt can't go out like they can in Vienna, for example, where the nightlife beckons (laughs). The village, in turn, gets back the energy of the artists, and in part also their reputation. Some artists often bring a certain style into the village.
Burgenland creative industries: The book "Das Künstlerdorf Neumarkt an der Raab", which you wrote together with Peter Vukics, was recently published. How did that come about?
Petra Schmögner: It soon became clear to me that I first had to work through the artists' village's past in order to be able to lead it into the future. So to know what and who has already been there, what courses have already existed, etc. We conducted over a hundred interviews for the book, Peter Vukics and I really got into it, which is why, in my opinion, the book is right, turned out really well. We presented it at the Venice Biennale, the foreword is by Hugo Portisch. This book has aroused great media interest, which of course has a positive effect on the artists' village. Because of the book, for example, the University of Luxor got in touch with us, and they definitely want to work with us for their planned artist village because they can learn something from us. That's a nice compliment. In addition, international art schools have contacted us that would like to come to us, and a cooperation with an Armenian artist village is also in the room. And because of the book, many famous artists came back to Neumarkt im Künstlerdorf for the first time in 40 years.
Burgenland creative industries: So the past has opened up a new future for the artists' village ?!
Petra Schmögner: Exactly! The success of the book has also given us new course instructors. It was, so to speak, refreshing blood for the lifeline of the village.
To person: The director of the artists' village Neumarkt an der Raab was born in 1971 in Güssing. The first forty years of her life were just as Petra Schmögner sees herself as a person: always looking for new challenges. After graduating from high school, she completed an economic education and then studied art history at the Karl Franzens University in Graz. Schmögner then worked as a make-up artist and set designer for theater and film productions as well as numerous projects at the Vienna Film Academy. The "multi-talent" Petra Schmögner has been running the Jennersdorf City Library for 10 years, and since 2008 she has not only been chairwoman of the artists 'village but also president of the Burgenland librarians' association. In 2011, the academic cultural manager published the book "Das Künstlerdorf Neumarkt an der Raab". Petra Schmögner lives with her husband, the artist Walter Schmögner and their two daughters in Neumarkt an der Raab and in Vienna.
The interview was conducted by the journalist Vanessa Bruckner (Photo below). The interview can also be downloaded as a PDF. Part of the interview will appear as part of a cooperation in the Burgenland economy.
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