01/2023: LOFT awarded NRW venue program prize for the 14th time in a row

On Thursday, January 25th 2023, the NRW Venue Program Award of the NRW Ministry of Culture and Science and the NRW State Music Council was presented at the Bunker Ulmenwall in Bielefeld.
The award honors smaller venues for live music with regular programming and is specifically aimed at those that provide a forum for up-and-coming artists and regional bands.
We are very happy to have received the award for the 14th time (and in a row) – this year we share the main prize with Klangbrücke (Aachen) and LOCH (Wuppertal) – and warmly congratulate all (15 in total) award winners*.

by: Robert von Zahn / Landesmusikrat NRW

Venue awards of the state in the Bunker Ulmenwall


The venue program awards of the Ministry of Culture and Science NRW and the Landesmusikrat NRW have been a tried and tested funding instrument for more than a decade now. But the economically strained situation of the concert venues after the pandemic means that these premiums are now even more effective than before. Thus, on the evening of January 25, a particularly large number of venue representatives gathered in Bielefeld’s Ulmenwall bunker to witness the renewed awarding of the premiums. After all, State Secretary of Culture Gonca Türkeli-Dehnert had also announced her presence, and they listened eagerly to her speech, which sent out hopeful signals.

At the beginning of the event, the managing director of the Ulmenwall Bunker Frieda Wieczorek first took a look back at the past years of her venue, which as a time of crisis represented a special challenge for the operation of such a house. The welcome was a good template for the President of the Landesmusikrat NRW Reinhard Knoll, who particularly emphasized the value of this commitment for the musical life of NRW:

“Performances in the Bunker Ulmenwall have become trademarks for bands. The atmosphere of the bunker shapes the image of the place, as does the wealth of intercultural encounters. And it is this diversity of characteristics that makes up the experience of venues,” says Reinhard Knoll. His postulate: “Play venues stand for lived freedom. They bring people together and provide unforgettable community experiences. They stand for social energies and for innovative programs.”

State Secretary Türkeli-Dehnert was able to pick up on this. For North Rhine-Westphalia in particular, with its mix of urban density and rural areas, venues are an important part of the finely woven cultural infrastructure. She is therefore endeavoring to expand funding for the premiums. The scene will also benefit from other initiatives of the state government, such as the introduction of fee floors in state-funded cultural events and an additional energy cost subsidy for artists, which are intended to effectively supplement the offers of the federal government (which are financed in a complementary manner by the states). (See today’s news item from the German Cultural Council.) Johanna Daske of Klangbrücke Aachen expressed her gratitude for one of the awards in a speech, describing how it is used for the diverse live events of the Society for Contemporary Music Aachen.

Such an appreciation of the venues should not be without the music itself. The band Luah from Cologne, Elsa Johanna Mohr, Lena-Larissa Senge and Ula Martyn-Ellis, offered their blend of Brazilian folklore and singer/songwriting singing and playing ukele, mandolin, keyboard and percussion. The lively and soaring songs enchanted the Bunker, and their instrumentation incidentally provided a fitting reference to the “Year of the Mandolin 2023,” an initiative of the state music councils in Germany.

Secretary of State for Culture Türkeli-Dehnert presented awards of €15,000 to LOFT/2ndFLOOR e.V. (Cologne), Klangbücke (Aachen) and Loch (Wuppertal). 10,000 € each will go to Bandfabrik – Kultur am Rand e.V. (Wuppertal), ZAKK (Düsseldorf), Black Box im Cuba (Münster), Bunker Ulmenwall (Bielefeld), Goldkante (Bochum) and the Domicil (Dortmund). 5,000 each goes to In Situ Arts Society (Bonn), Jazz Initiative Dinslaken, Jazzkeller Krefeld, Jazzschmiede Düsseldorf, King Georg (Cologne) and the Ort (Wuppertal).

The 15 venues have been selected by an expert jury consisting of Christina Lux (musician), Ulla Oster (musician), Tim Isfort (moers festival) and Thomas Baerens (Head of the Music Department, Ministry of Culture and Science).

Project manager Eva Luise Roth from the Landesmusikrat NRW organized the event in cooperation with the Bunker Ulmenwall and moderated the program.

Robert von Zahn