The fallout from the appointment of Chris Dercon continues to gather steam and now art world luminaries that include curator Hans Ulrich Obrist have written an open letter in support of his position. Dercon's appointment as director of Berlin’s Volksbühne theatre provoked furious discussions with the staff and freelancers at the theatre who wrote an earlier letter to the city senate and the German culture minister, Monika Grütters, outlining their concerns about a disintegration in German artistic standards.
Dercon, the former director of Tate Modern, accepted the appointment in April in 2015 having no idea of the vehement skepticism his appointment would meet. The letter from the Volksbühne staff stated:
“We miss in the conceptual designs of the future director everything that makes this theater unique: politically engaged art, a specific theater concept, a steady repertoire and ensemble, and a vision for the unique potential of the house’s own workshops.”
In response to this, however, influential curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, Rem Koolhaas, Okwui Enwezor and artists Philippe Parreno and Peter Saville amonst many others have written to Berlin mayor Michael Müller voicing their support for Dercon. Their letter not only expresses their belief in the appointment of Dercon, but admonishes the letter penned by the Volksbühne staff who they accuse of having “bypassed all objective standards” and stated:
“At its crudest, the open letter is about power, and the abuse of the privilege conferred by public employment to defeat an individual’s vision... Nevertheless, for signatories of this letter to make the claim that his association with museums is liable to bring to Volksbühne ‘a global consensus culture with uniform presentation and sales patterns’ is risible, as is the claim that there is one single truth presided over by those who signed the open letter.”
Despite this high-profile letter, the Berlin senate already answered the accusations of the staff as early as June 21st with a professional and firm statement detailing the schedule of Dercon’s program and reaffirming his official position which begins in 2017. Dercon has also calmed staff fears of job losses by declaring “There will be no major change in staff, nor will the professionals’ unions be in any danger.”