Dear fusionists and friends,
A summer of changeable weather is over and the Climate Crisis has become even more apparent, but now that autumn has arrived virtually overnight, we’ve found the time to evaluate Fusion 2023.
Many have spent a summer floating around in a bubble of festivals and parties. But many have also been forced to take some breaks in the face of some serious price increases not just at festivals, but across our everyday lives. It has become increasingly difficult to leave the reality of everyday life, even for a few fleeting moments. It’s become clear to all of us that the world as we knew it pre-Corona is not coming back. Although we’re all rather privileged of course, the world we live in is becoming increasingly, well, shit. What can we do? What must we do..?
The beginning of this newsletter had already been written when, on the morning of 7 October, the almost-unbelievable news of the attacks by Hamas on Israel came to light. The horrifying images and information that ran through the media over the course of the weekend and the following days seemed unimaginable. For a time, it was impossible to continue writing this newsletter, and we still find it difficult to find the right words.
On Saturday, even before the real dimension of this barbaric attack was known, and as if the news about the brutal and indiscriminate massacre of civilians was not shocking enough, the news and pictures of the attack on the Supernova Festival left us completely speechless and brought many tears to our eyes.
Israel is the country that emerged from the history of the Shoah as a safe home for Jews. But on this one day in Israel, at least 1400 people, the vast majority of them Israelis and Jews, were killed by Hamas murder brigades.
We are still left stunned and appalled by this senseless and unjustifiable terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel.
We are left only with a silent and deep sorrow for all those who were murdered in this cowardly way that day. Our sympathy goes out to all those who lost someone, as well as to all those who survived this day but have been left physically injured or severely traumatised.
When we think of the more than 200 people who were taken hostage by Hamas in Gaza, we are gripped not only by deep compassion, but also by great anger at this contempt for humanity and real fear about what will happen next for the hostages.
Our solidarity with Israel exists without question!
We neither want, nor are we able, to conceal our criticism of this Israeli government in the face of the 56 years of Israeli occupation; Netanyahu's unscrupulous, in part openly right-wing-extremist government; and the anti-Palestinian violence fuelled by radical settlers.
Our solidarity therefore also belongs in particular to the struggles of Israeli civil society against Netanyahu's planned judicial reform and for the preservation of democracy in Israel.
We cannot hide our fear and concern for the people in Gaza. Our solidarity with the suffering Palestinian people is necessary, important, and legitimate. Our empathy for innocent victims of violence and war is indivisible.
We absolutely condemn the displacement of over a million Palestinians, the collective punishment through the total destruction of large parts of the Gaza Strip, which is causing the deaths of innocent people, including thousands of children, and we support the call by humanitarian aid organisations for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to safe civil society.
Hamas should go to hell, but the release of the hostages from their hands must be at the centre of all diplomatic efforts.
We neither want, nor are able to write more on this topic in this newsletter. We are also reaching the limits of the discussion framework in our thinking and what we would have to say, which is more restricted than ever in the current situation due to the many facets of injustice and strong emotions. It is also not for us to politicise the war between Israel and Hamas from our privileged position and from within our comfort zone.
We will therefore leave it there.
Partying together to escape from reality is part of our hedonistic coding. But this is still consistent with the struggles of real life, where it’s more and more important to save what can still be saved in this world. Both seem necessary in order to remain human and not lose heart in the face of all the catastrophes, wars and injustices, the strengthening of the AfD and generally all the increasingly gloomy prospects for the future.
Our story began 28 years ago and next year we will celebrate the 25th Fusion Festival. Together with all those who have contributed to this great story over the years, we have turned a small party into what many say is a festival that stands unique in the world. We would like to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to the thousands of people who have contributed to the past 24 Fusion festivals.
Next, we would like to thank all those who have worked with us this year to make this really great festival a reality. Our thanks go to all the fusion instructors and artists, but especially to the crews and supporters. Without your energy, cooperation, time, patience, creativity, humanity and understanding of a common, respectful celebration, none of this would be possible. Many thanks to all of you!
We sold 70,000 tickets in advance. The commitment that we made years ago to make Fusion ticketing as fair as possible through a raffle has meanwhile been adopted by many other festivals. Next year we will also allocate at.tension tickets through a raffle.
This year, 2.5 people wanted a ticket for every available one. Between May and the end of June, over 10,000 people were able to resell their tickets in our ticketing exchange (Ticket:Börse) and just as many were able to get hold of one at the last minute.
Given that, thanks to much support, we have overcome our financial troubles from the Corona years, there will now again only be the regular pre-sale and no early partial sale of tickets for Fusion 2024.
Registration will run from January 1 - 14 on our website and the accreditations to buy will be raffled on 20 January, with the second raffle taking place on February 20, 2024. The Ticket:Börse will then be relaunched in May. Sunday tickets will be available in advance from the end of February.
The Gaff was full?!
To remain financially prudent after the difficult post Corona Fusion in 2022, we sold more tickets in 2023, so that around 10,000 more people were at Fusion than in 2022. Of course, this was noticeable at the festival. Fusion was also better attended on Sunday, but we always look at this differently as more people leave on Sundays than arrive for the Sunday day tickets.
The feeling that it was “too full” is relative. The atmosphere was brilliant and we somehow all forgot what it was like, or rather how it is, when so many people are partying together.
Of course, the queuing and waiting is annoying for everyone, and the arrival and admission on Wednesday also led to very long traffic jams and extreme waiting times for those who arrived by car and bus. We have to improve that a lot next year and we don't want it to happen again as it did this time. We apologise to all concerned for the frustrating and exhausting waiting times. The number of food stalls could be increased, but electricity, water, sewage and other "little things" have to be taken into account. We had already increased the number of toilets this year, so there were no serious problems there. However, the weather had a strong impact. The rain ensured that a lot of people took breaks at the same time, and the hours of sunshine meant that a lot of guests crowded onto the festival site at the same time.
We have long debated and considered whether we want to reduce the number of tickets in 2024, and if so by how much, and have contemplated whether or not we could organise a smaller Fusion? Of course it would be possible, but then we would have to make significant savings in the programme, lighting, decoration, floors and crews, and probably also increase the ticket price. Such a decision would also disappoint many people, as it would make attendance at "most fantastical festival of the year" impossible for thousands of Fusionists.
However, our aspiration to enable as many people as possible to experience Fusion will probably play the most important role in our decision on the size of Fusion 2024 so a significant reduction in tickets is not to be expected.
No Photos on the Dancefloor!
Filming and photographing on the floors annoys us and many of our guests and is therefore not desired.
Please respect the desire we all have for a protected and safe space where we can be as we want to be: free, uncontrolled, and above all, unphotographed.
No one wants to be recognised on the Instagram pages of strangers.
The need for recognition of some fusionists seems to be so great that their quest for admiration has to be shared and satisfied on Instagram & co. through group selfies in the middle of the Turmbühne or through a panoramic video of the vibe on the Tanzwüste.
We can't implement the strict rules from the Berlin club scene on film and video policy, and there is no general ban on taking photos at Fusion. But with these and other appeals, we would like to create an awareness of how to be more mindful with digital technology. Even if you didn't capture every wonderful moment, you still experienced it.
For the next Fusion, we will focus more specifically on this topic in order to make our point of view more understandable to the guests as well as to the artists and to propagate respect for each person's own image.
Fusion for over 18s only
Besides some debates internally and externally, this decision cost us a lot of effort. Many Fusionists were able to leave their children with grandparents or friends for the days and had hardly any problems with the decision. Others, some of them long-time Fusionists, stayed away from the festival due to a lack of external childcare, or out of protest, which we are sorry about. We announced it too late that there would still be a small family space on the island camping area for parents with children. We were pleased to see the children and youth demo, who demonstrated against their exclusion from the festival, although the criticism was of course directed at us and our decision.
In the last 28 years of Fusion’s history, we have been forced to accept unpleasant consequences again and again due to practical constraints. The over-18 decision is one such consequence, which we will have to maintain in 2024. However, there will again be a children's space in the Family camping zone on the island for those who want to be with their children on the island during the festival. We are still looking into how we will regulate access to the island for families and whether there will be pre-sale access tickets for the island next year.
Bars just wanna have Pfand!
The Pfandraising Concept, which seeks to raise money through the collection of bottles, has been a big and controversial topic since 2022. It was about the abolition of the bottle deposit and thus the option for individuals to collect bottle and glass deposits, in favour of a system organised by Kuko and supported by as many Fusionists as possible. While last year's practical implementation was not very successful, as is often the case, we were able to draw a much more positive conclusion second time around. The whole area was free of bottles except for the morning hours and on the larger stages. The return of bottles from our bars was over 85%, almost as high as during the deposit period. The situation with the eternal problem of broken glass also improved considerably this year. In addition to the help of many Fusionists, the better staffing of the broken glass crew and a newly formed crew that collected the bar bottles with their trolleys played a decisive role in this significantly improved glass and broken glass situation.
But the abolition of the deposit was also done with the aim that we make a big donation pot through Pfandraising to donate this money to People on the Move.
Et Voilà, donations totalling €141,500 were collected.
€104.00 from the solitaires, which are due if a person does not bring an empty bottle when buying a drink. €37,500 were donated by the Kulturkosmos association for the almost 150 tons of broken glass that will be collected and recycled into new bottles. That is €0.10 for every bottle that ended up in a broken glass container.
As announced prior to the festival, the donations go to:
Medibüro Berlin (€30,000) - a network for the right to health care for all migrants.
And the largest proportion went to: Safe Passage Foundation (€111,500)
The Safe Passage Foundation stands for solidarity, freedom of movement, and safe passage and takes a clear stand against the criminalisation of migration.
The Fusion Festival 2023 could once again only take place because we, Kulkurkosmos, could rely on a huge network of associations, organisations, initiatives, individuals, and companies. This structure has grown organically with the festival and maintaining and managing it every year takes a lot of work and a large part of our organisational effort for the festival. For example, there are now 7 backstage areas for over 10,000 people to share. Furthermore, there are over 2,000 supporters involved who volunteer to support the festival with 3 shifts at a wide variety of venues. The 26 bars at the festival all work largely on their own and are organised by independent clubs and groups. They also organise their 1000+ bar staff, most of whom are volunteers and get free festival access in return.
In 2023, around 230 crews, of varying sizes, with varying time commitments and in a wide variety of tasks, were involved and played their part. As diverse as this network is, just as diverse are the individual groups themselves and the burdens that individuals bear. It is just as difficult for us to organise and manage these groups and individuals in a uniform way.
We have invested a lot of energy and work in recent years to coordinate our wishes and the expectations and needs of the crews. Logistically, however, it is not possible for us to create the same conditions for everyone involved in the festival, even if this would be a nice aspiration.
The different working conditions and demands on our crews, as well as real or even perceived inequalities among the crews and an increasingly widespread feeling of lack of recognition by the Kuko resulted in an open protest in the form of a demo this year, led by a few, and at the same time some bars and infrastructure crews also went on strike. We consider strike action to be a legitimate means in a conflict where there is no agreement on demands through negotiations or there is no concession from the other side. However, there were neither demands nor negotiations as such. There was constructive criticism of the Kuko in the run-up, but the demonstration and strike were mainly based on rumours and insinuations. Many of the demonstrators and strikers simply showed solidarity, as is proper and right among those on the left.
We take criticism made against us seriously and are prepared to deal with it. However, we expect it to be well-founded and to be presented to us in a framework of solidarity. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Quite on the contrary, a campaign was instigated and political action was taken in an extremely confrontational and populist manner. We are all-too-familiar with this from left-wing sociotopes but precisely for this reason, we can do without it.
One of our takeaway assignments from this conflict is to critically and continually reassess and question our structure and to adapt if necessary.
It can be difficult, especially for newcomers to understand how Fusion and its complex network works. A lack of knowledge about Kuko, its structures and history, as well as a lack of explanation of the festival organisation contribute to this.
We are looking for ways to improve transparency and communication between the crews and ourselves.
We wrote a very detailed newsletter to our crews at the end of July. In it we explained a lot and took a position on various allegations. We also asked our crews for an evaluation of their work, their situation and their position on the strike, but we have received little feedback so far. Similarly, we have now asked all crew members to participate in a crew survey in order to receive and evaluate personal feedback. This evaluation is still pending.
Awareness and Security
As well as the working conditions, our awareness concept, and our security were the main points of criticism directed towards us in the strike. Even the national press pounced on these points and generated headlines by criticising Kulturkosmos. We will not go into this further in this newsletter. However, we want to make it clear that we stand behind our security staff. When selecting our partner companies, our security and stewards' organisation takes great care to ensure that they clearly stand behind our political self-image and the Fusion spirit. All security measures are evaluated in debriefings.
By reflecting on individual security measures and possibly deciding against the deployment of certain individuals in the following year, the companies involved are constantly endeavouring to build a security team that is more sensitive to discrimination.
In recent years, the fight for a discrimination-free world has increasingly arrived onto the party scene and is being fought out within and at festivals in this country. As too has the issue of awareness. We have been focusing on this issue for 15 years and have had an awareness group within our structure for 11 years. This group does good and important work at Fusion.
The different concepts of the awareness groups range from counselling for victims at parties to addressing people who have been assaulted, to crisis intervention for people who are looking for help, to psychological support after experiencing sexualised violence or racist assaults. For a few years now, we have also had a concept in place for many years, which we developed to fit Fusion and its needs. This is regularly reviewed and, if necessary, readjusted. In contrast to other concepts, the exercise of rights for ejections and bans is not only a matter for the awareness group, but is the sole responsibility of the event management in consultation with security. The event management also acts in consultation with the awareness group and this has always worked smoothly in the past.
Up until now, our awareness structure works in the background, so it is “only” indirectly present on the festival site. But it is always there and available around the clock. For some people, this concept is not enough. We are aware of this criticism. We at Kulturkosmos, however, reserve the right to formulate and implement our awareness concept as we deem feasible and right for a complex event of this size. We engage in a dialogue with the awareness group in a spirit of solidarity and are grateful for this exchange and their constructive criticism.
We know that there are no safe spaces and that assaults and sexualised violence also occur at Fusion. This year, two transphobic incidents were among the incidents which were recorded by our awareness crew. In this context it is important to say clearly: we as a cultural cosmos, Kulturkosmos, and the festival itself, stand for the free expression of sexuality and gender identity. People who are not sharing these values are not welcome at our festival!
We have continually stressed that maximum awareness at Fusion can only be achieved if as many Fusionists as possible pay attention and look after one another and, through mutual and collective mindfulness, recognise abusive behaviour and take decisive action to directly support those affected.
This collective development towards "Awareness for All" is a longer process, but ultimately the path to a culture of partying in which discrimination and sexualised violence have no place and those affected are consistently supported. We are confident that we and all Fusionists who we can sensitise to this are on the right path.
If you would like to support Fusion 2024 with 3 volunteer shifts, then please apply to become a supporter. All supporters who have already supported us at Fusion 2023 can reactivate their accounts from December 18 . From January 2 - 15, all people who want to be a part of it for the first time can apply here.
There you will also find all the information you need about becoming a supporter.
Jugendfarm (Youth Farm)
The construction work for the children's and youth farm in Lärz has begun. Next spring we want to start our children's and youth work in Lärz.
Some of the building plots we have developed in the immediate vicinity of the Youth Farm are still for sale. Potential landowners, preferably with children, are welcome to contact us at email@example.com.
We are always looking for new colleagues in the Kukturkosmos. We have set up a section on the Fusion website where you can find detailed job descriptions.
So far, so ok then.
Our very best wishes to all Fusionists,