We’re writing this newsletter in a world where everything seems to have turned on its head and where, in the space of just a few months, a virus has developed the potential to inflict lasting damage on all of our lives.
Our health is being defined as the most important public good we have as a society. As such, it is not only taking precedence over capitalist economic interests, but also any form of self-determined lifestyle. A state of emergency is now in place for an indefinite period of time, and nobody can or wants to say when and how it will be lifted or what will come after that.
Social distancing, quarantine and isolation are what are called for at this time to ensure that we don’t completely lose the battle against the virus. The measures taken so far have been more reactive than well thought through. Rules and guidelines change from one day to the next, and the success of the flatten the curve strategy is still more a hope than a certainty.
The healthcare systems of rich, industrialised nations, weakened by years of spending cuts, are now on the brink of collapse. The prospect of the capitalist system crashing has exposed its inherent weaknesses. The crisis is turning into a catastrophe, and the consequences are impossible to predict. Emerging economies and developing countries will be hit much harder than us. In the coming months many people will die there as they rely on poor to non-existent healthcare services, which lack ventilators.
Empathy for the weak and disadvantaged has a short half-life in this society. We’ve seen that already during the "refugee crisis". Unfortunately, the humanitarian disasters in Syria and Yemen, as well as the refugee situation on the external borders of Europe, rouse few emotions here these days.
The claim that in our affluent societies all lives have equal value was already shown to be a lie when it came to the decisions not to rescue refugees in the Mediterranean. Now that it comes to the economic survival and the preservation of the system, it seems likely that in the coming weeks further ethical and moral principles will also be thrown overboard as well.
A decisive question in the inevitable ethical conflict to come will be whether the protection of human life takes absolute precedence - whether all our other rights of freedom and of participation, as well as social and cultural rights, are unconditionally subordinate to it, or whether everyone has to accept that their lives are generally at risk.
In this context, it will above all be the so-called highly vulnerable groups that will be confronted with the terrible realisation that human lives are both precious and finite.
And what about us? Are we all just demoted to being spectators now? We look on with concern as basic and civil rights are suspended and measures akin to the surveillance practices of dictatorial regimes become openly acceptable? All of this is happening without proper critical discussion. We don’t as much as protest as the dictates of Corona bring democracy to its knees, along with our freedoms and rights.
We’ve been sitting isolated at home in the hope that this pandemic will be over quickly and that we’ll be able to return to normal life. No one can say today how the coronavirus will change our society and our lives, and whether everything will ever be as it was, just a short time ago. We have grave doubts that this will be possible.
And alongside all these gloomy thoughts and grim prospects, you’ll of course also be asking yourselves whether Fusion is going to be able to go ahead this year.
Given the current situation and what we see as its likely development, we cannot go ahead and hold the festival this year. Despite this being a bitter pill to swallow, it is the only decision we can take given our shared responsibility to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
That means that Fusion cannot take place this year. We’ll party together again at the next Fusion from 30 June to 4 July 2021.
Even if the worst is over by the end of June, and everyday life has slowly returned to normal, with school, kindergarten and work all allowed again, it would still not be possible or justifiable to organise a festival with 70,000 visitors from all over the world, let alone to get official permission for it. We are more powerless than ever before in this situation, and there is no opponent whom we can persuade or win over with your solidarity.
We're also running out of time. We should all already be working full-steam ahead, along with our many partners, on the preparations. But we’re also in lockdown and we would need commitments from indispensable partners that they, with all the best will in the world, simply cannot give us at this time.
Postponing Fusion by a few months is unfortunately not an option. We’re now at the point where we have to assume that it could be a long time before festivals can happen again. The logistical requirements for successfully putting on Fusion are also extremely complex, and it’s not like we can just easily move it a few months later.
We could have waited a bit longer before making this announcement, and held off until the government forced us to cancel the festival. However, we want to make our own decisions and we see the higher cause, even without orders from the authorities having to make that clear.
We know that this decision will be another blow for you and our whole network of friends and supporters, on top of everything that is already happening. But we also assume that you will understand our decision.
As we already mentioned in the last newsletter, tickets for this year will remain valid for Fusion 2021.
However, if you want to cancel your ticket, you can do this in your online ticketing account at any time – including all the way through to next year – and get the ticket price, rubbish deposit, and admin and postage costs refunded back to you. The €10 cancellation fee we introduced a few years ago won’t apply this time. Instead, we’ll allocate this cancellation fee as a voluntary individual contribution for Kuko and our network. In your online account you can then decide if you want to make this voluntary contribution or get the whole ticket price refunded.
For us at Kulturkosmos, the cancellation of the festival means that we need to bridge the gap left by a year without Fusion. No one can say what will happen in six months’ time, but we don’t see this as a threat to our survival and we are not in need of financial bailout (…yet). Next year, we’ll not only have to finance Fusion, but also at.tension with amounts to the tune of hundreds of thousands. We also want to use this summer to carry out necessary construction work and work on some projects we’ve got in mind to set the festivals up in a better way for the future. For this reason, the price for next year’s festival might increase a bit. If this does happen, we’d require an additional top-up payment from all those already with tickets.
Fusion is not just down to Kulturkosmos. It also comes together with the support and engagement of different groups, associations, and collectives. The coronavirus crisis and the cancellation of the festival spells an economic catastrophe for many associations and ventures in our area. Their survival is under threat and they’ll receive little or no government support. We have therefore set up a solidarity fund through the Kulturkosmos Foundation to support our network of partners. With this pot, we intend to help groups that may not otherwise survive this crisis and, if necessary, will also use it to ensure the survival of at.tension Festival in 2021.
The €10 solidarity contribution from the ticket cancellations will contribute to this fund and we’ll also throw in €100,000 from Kulturkosmos as well. We’ll publish information regarding the donations on the Kuko website.
In addition to the solidarity contributions made through cancellations, anyone who’d like to support Kulturkosmos, our partner network, and the Fusion and at.tension Festivals in 2021, can make a donation to the account listed below.
Kulturkosmos Stiftung gGmbH
IBAN: DE36 4306 0967 1116 6858 01
In the same spirit, we also call on all Fusionistas to show solidarity to the cultural spaces and shops in your local areas – they need support so that our preferred way of life can survive this crisis. Donate what you would otherwise spend on cultural activities, partying, and going out to help ensure there is this life to go back to when this is all over.
Our desire for hedonistic self-determination and a rich cultural life has to now – without question – simply give way to the greater priority of people’s health. But the question remains as to how long it will have to be this way and for how long we are willing to accept it. It’s sadly not unreasonable to fear that festivals and club culture are the last things that politicians want to see return as part of their containment strategy.
The decision makers simply aren’t at all familiar with how we live or the values of our festival, club, and sub-culture. The shutdown of festival culture for a significant amount of time – which politicians have not by any means ruled out and may already be considering in private – would mean the end of a large part of our club and festival culture, and would permanently place unbearable restrictions on our lives and permanently dismantle a lot of the structures we’ve built up.
We won’t get back what is being taken away from us by this virus without fighting for it. We can’t just wait and see what happens. It has to be made clear to the decision makers that culture is a crucial part of life. Culture is of systemic importance. It has to be made clear that we won’t accept that everything that doesn’t serve the economy, or the health services can simply be sacrificed in the fight against the virus.
It’s high time to have an open discussion about how we can not only save our healthcare system but also, beyond this crisis, how we can save our culture, civil rights, and our right to a life that is self-determined!
National borders, travel bans, travel restrictions within Germany only lead to borders in the minds of people and this will not defeat the virus.
Solidarity is the compassion of the people!
If this crisis fundamentally changes society, then it’s up to all of us to make the best of it we can and save what is important to us.
The fight for our future has only just begun!