ARD (Consortium of public broadcasters in Germany) is a joint organisation of Germany's regional public-service broadcasters.
Reinhard Scolik © Bayerischer Rundfunk / ARD
ARD Logos © ARD
Founded in 1950 in West Germany ARD represented the common interests of the new, decentralised, post-war broadcasting services and is the world's second largest public TV-broadcaster, with about 22.600 employees. ARD's programming is produced by its regional members Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR), Hessischer Rundfunk (HR), Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR), Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), Radio Bremen (RB), Rundfunk Berlin–Brandenburg (RBB), Saarländischer Rundfunk (SR), Südwestrundfunk (SWR) and Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR).
IMZ talked to Reinhard Scolik, Director of Programmes at Bayerischer Rundfunk, the station which is in charge of ARD’s classical music programme.
As a consortium of public broadcasters in Germany ARD comprises nine national broadcasting corporations and is the second largest public TV-broadcaster worldwide. What is the challenge of the coordination of performing arts programmes?
Reinhard Scolik: The role of the ARD coordinator focuses on programme initiatives and proposals from the nine national broadcasting corporations in the community programme "Das Erste". Recently we had a very good acceptance of the opening concert of the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, an accompanying documentary by the central coordinator Norddeutscher Rundfunk, and the repetitions in 3sat and ARTE. Other highlights of the year are the traditional European concert of the Berlin Philharmonic on 1 May, the ARD music competition with young classics from all over the world in September and a Christmas concert with the BR choir and radio orchestra in Advent. Starting in 2018, a New Year‘s concert series will be broadcasted with the orchestras of the ARD in a two-year cycle. The beginning is made by the BR Symphony Orchestra. In addition, the task is to make use of the extensive range of music offered by as many stations as possible.
Which target audience is addressed by ARD’s performing arts programmes? And what role does audience development play?
RS: Classical broadcasts reach a limited audience. But it is very faithful to certain offers like well-promoted festival transmissions from the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the Rheingau Music Festival or from the Bayreuth Festival. In order to open up new, possibly younger, audiences, the broadcasters must create events. A broader audience approach can also be achieved with new concepts for music formats. Currently, we try this is for example at ARTE on late Sunday afternoon in a mixed form of concert excerpts and documentary sequences about artists or compositions. Overall, the tasks for the ARD institutions have become more complex since the budgets had been cut, but in addition to the classical linear programmes, concert streams must also be organized on the internet. The colleagues must now think more synergetically than before.
What relevance do other distribution channels like social media and online streams have for the cultural productions of ARD?
RS: The ARD institutions with their orchestras and choirs have their own sound bodies. Therefore the chance to transfer entire concert series through the slim and thus cost-effective production forms – without substantial loss of quality – is a good option. In the addition of the streams, a considerable repertoire of ARD concert productions is growing here, which increases the reputation of the broadcasting network in this cultural segment. This effect is further enhanced when popular concerts are also published via "big players" such as facebook or youtube-channels. The Schumann Piano Concerto with Katia Buniatishvili and the HR Sinfonieorchester has, for example, almost 3.8 million clicks on youtube!
How important are new technologies like VR for ARD?
RS: In the ARD, various pilot projects have already been supported with 360 degree technology. The decisive factor will be how simple the usage of this new technology is for the classic fan. A whole Mahler symphony will hardly be seen and listened to with VR-glasses – but as a supplement, camera shots directly from the orchestra can of course be attractive. The WDR is currently examining the feasibility of a 360 production with excerpts from the "Figaro". Such a performance in the opera house cannot be just filmed from different perspectives – the plot must be totally re-staged for technology. This is complex and in the end also a question of costs.
What are your future strategies for ARD – concerning music, dance and opera programmes?
RS: In the cultural channels organized and financed jointly with partners, there are still a lot of fixed broadcasting lines for ARD music productions, which is positive. The classic radio stations for their core clientele also play an important role here. Strategically, the ARD theme for the performing arts programmes, which also applies to other genres, is: "With quality to success". If classic broadcasts are attractive and excitingly prepared in the formats, have a high quality and are increasingly offered via streams and media libraries, they will also find their audience in the future. I am very optimistic about this.
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