2. Summary of report
The KosmosTheater in Vienna, Austria - "her-story"
In 1997, while a referendum on women's issues took place in Austria, a small group of women artists founded the association LINK* - demanding a stronger impact on feminism in the Austrian public, specially in arts and politics. Soon LINK* started out claiming a centre of arts, politics, sciences as well as economics, all in all dedicated to women and their particular biographies and lifestyles, utopias and visions. Soon the support arose from all parts of society and made clear how strong the need for a theatre & arts-centre focusing on women's topics in the late 1990s were. "Frauen brauchen Raum - women need space" was the credo LINK* taught to the Austrian public. After nearly two years of negotiations and discussions with the Austrian government and the urban Viennese government, the official Austria, gave in and presented the "Rondell", a former porno cinema right in the centre of Vienna, as the future homebase to the LINK* women and dozens of hopeful artists. But it was still too early to celebrate a victory: the promise was easily broken by the government and so LINK* supported by sympathetic artists, squatted the "Rondell" for the next months. Performances, readings, concerts as well as actions of protest took place, not only at the "Rondell" but soon all over Vienna (including even the airport). Finally LINK* found the former cinema "Kosmos" suitable to substitute the "Rondell. After years of struggle LINK* found its home at the former "Kosmos"-cinema and soon became KosmosTheater. Doors opend on may 15th 2000 with a magnificent and widely recognized party. The KosmosTheater is located in one of the most liveliest quarters of Vienna, a neighbourhood which is also well-known as "Spittelberg".
Hosting the Kosmos.gallery, two bars called the kosmos.cantinetta and free internet access for everybody and of course, the theater KosmosTheater is located on three newly designed floors. Women-artists have finally found a place were they can organize themselves, women play the important parts at the kosmos frauen.raum. According to the fact that women still earn a third less than men, the female audience gets a discount of 30% on all tickets.
The programme at KosmosTheater is framed in cycles, meaning that exhibitions, discussions, readings as well as the plays are circling one theme, e.g. "body, soul, mythos" (autumn 2000). The "brainstorming", an monthly open forum welcomes everyone to bring new ideas to KosmosTheater. Ideas and visions on future projects get an audience and soon they may become part of the kosmos programme. KosmosTheater is no "women only"-place, it far more follows the idea that men should "open their eyes", learn about feminism and the female links in arts and politics on the brink of the new millennium. Although the artistic programme at the kosmos frauen.raum has a great variety and is one of the most colourful programmes in Vienna, the official institutions do not support the KosmsoTheater with appropriate funds. There has always been trouble getting decent financial support by the long term government of the "big coalition", and the current conservative government does not ease the financial situation of KosmosTheater either. Since their declared goal is to reduce the Austrian budget-deficit, artistic projects and intiatives like KosmosTheater are among those who lose benefits first. Therefore KosmosTheater is searching for sponsors who can support this unique theatre project and help making it independent.
At the dawning of the third millennium there are still few women who work as acknowledged directors, poets, playwrights, composers, sculpturers or painters in Austria. Women ought to claim their part in history and presence. KosmosTheater supports women who produce art, who involve themselves in political issues and economical questions.
To insure that female artists can reach the same public attention as male artists, they need more than laws on equal rights, they need public space and action. Women-friendly cultural-politics needs a fundamental unterstanding of social and cultural gender-differences. KosmosTheater invites female artists to communicate, to produce and to link with other artists who use the resources of KosmosTheater with a view on equal footing and gender mainstreaming in arts and culture.