Art for Coal

Ateliers Höherweg eV, Höherweg 271, Duesseldorf

During cold 1946 winter theaters in Hamburg did not have coal to heat premises, actors wenton strike, stage machinery was about to freeze and break. Otto Burrmeister, the administrativedirector of Thalia Theater decided to travel to Rhurgebiet to search for coal. By chance the first mine he encountered during this quest was Zeche König Ludwig in Reclinghausen, wherehe met Stanislas Jendrowiak, memeber of the Miners Union. The Union decided to help actors and donated coal to Hamburg Theaters. There are no documents about it, as due to allies regulations these donations were unofficial. Jendrowiak was even arrested during one transport. Next summer three theatre companies from Hamburg came to Reclinghausen and gave some performances to thank the miners for help. That is how Ruhrfestspiele Theatre Festival was born. The Festival is still funded by labour union Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB) together with the city of Recklinghausen.

This is such a extraordinary example of solidarity between working class and artists, that it is almost like fairy tale. It can be perceived as methaphor of the history of the whole Rhurgebiet region. The story of initial exchange of “Art for Coal” seems to be prophetical – once miners donated some amount of coal, in twenty years they had to give up everything. Mines and factories were closed down, region was transformed into cultural centre, it changed workplaces, environment, jobs, style of living.

series of 24 works, acrylic on paper, size 21 x 29,7 cm,
4 works, acrylic on canvas, size 24 x 30 cm