Protest as German orchestras ‘robbed’ of classical music festival, while football goes ahead

7 July 2021, 11:08

Nuremberg orchestras claim 'double standards' with football audiences
Nuremberg orchestras claim 'double standards' with football audiences. Picture: Uwe Niklas/Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

German orchestras ‘devastated’ as Klassik Open Air is repeatedly cancelled – while football, with nearly twice the audience, is given the green light.

Nuremberg orchestras are claiming unequal treatment of sports and culture, as the popular Klassik Open Air classical music festival is once again cancelled amid COVID-19 fears, while Euro 2020 football matches have been allowed to go ahead.

“To be robbed of this festival of music again is a devastating experience for us,” two orchestra boards cry in an open letter to the Bavarian State Government.

That 14,500 football spectators were allowed to attend the Allianz Arena, but the planned 8,000 audience members at the ‘Klassik Open Air’ were not approved, was met with “absolute incomprehension” by the two boards.

Writing to Bavaria’s state premier Markus Söder and minister of state Bernd Sibler, the orchestra boards of the Nuremberg State Philharmonic and Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra complain that sports and culture events are being “measured by two standards”.

Read more: ‘10,000 singing football fans, but only 6 in a choir?’

Klassik Open Air on in August 2018 with the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra
Klassik Open Air on in August 2018 with the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra. Picture: Uwe Niklas

At the Allianz Arena, social distancing rules allowed 2.6 square metres of space per person. Meanwhile at Nuremberg’s Luitpoldhain park, there would have been 6.9 square metres per audience member, had the festival been allowed to take place as planned with 8,000 people.

“Is the society of those people who use such cultural offerings less important than the society of those who like to watch football?” the boards ask the state government.

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In the letter, the boards question why Nuremberg’s festival has been cancelled, while Munich’s similar open-air event ‘Klassik am Odeonsplatz’ has been given the go-ahead with a 25 percent capacity audience of 2,000.

“Is it too difficult to find an individual solution for Nuremberg too?” the boards ask ministers.

Klassik Open Air, which in a normal year hosts up to 80,000, is among the cultural gems of a summer in Nuremberg.

“To be deprived of music again at this festival is a devastating experience for us, because it prevents us from re-establishing the long-awaited and urgently needed contact with our audience,” said the representatives of the two Nuremberg orchestras.

They would have wanted and expected from Söder and Sibler “a greater commitment to Nuremberg culture and to the Nuremberg city population”.

While the rate of coronavirus infections in Germany has dropped steeply in the last two months, the Delta variant has been a growing cause for concern. Recent data shows the variant makes up 37 percent of cases detected in the country.