During the summer of 1958, the “Junge Gruppe”, including the artists Othmar Carli, Gustav Zankl and Günter Waldorf, requested permission to permanently use the vacant former Stadtpark Café for art related events. However, the city council rejected this proposition and decided to have the building demolished. It was only after protests of the press, politicians and several art societies that a deadline was set for the acquisition of the funds required for the maintenance of the building. The fund raising was successful and on 15th January 1959 FORUM STADTPARK’s constitutional assembly took place. In November 1960, the building was officially opened with the exhibition “Bekenntnis und Konfrontation”.
The early years
As a self-managing artist association FORUM STADTPARK’s ideals were to promote the interests of people engaged in the cultural sector, more so than ever before. The building was to serve as a podium specifically for young artists and scientists. The founders expected their association to cover all aspects related to culture, including aesthetically traditional, historical, political and didactic issues, the result of which was a division of nine equal departments. However, during the 60s, the amount of theoretical projects decreased. The initial goal to cover a broad spectrum of culture was replaced with a focus on contemporary arts and literature.
In the course of the 60s and 70s, FORUM STADTPARK evolved into one of the few places of presentation and production of progressive art and literature, establishing itself as an elitist institution. Similarly, its self-perception underwent a transformation from an organisation generally devoted to culture to an art association, whose goal was to avoid prevalent intermission entities. In order to achieve this goal, FORUM STADTPARK also incorporated a publishing house. International public attention was furthermore attracted by its literature journal manuskripte, which was founded in 1960. In addition to this, the photography journal Camera Austria, the film journal blimp, the literature journal Absolut, the essay journal Liqueur as well as the journal schreibkraft were now published here. Apart from this, FORUM STADTPARK significantly contributed to the initiation of the avantgardist film festival steirischer herbst.
In 1995, Alfred Kolleritsch resigned as chairman in favour of Walter Grond, which lead to the replacement of most functionaries, abstractors and other staff members. This radical change was supposed to make the increasingly elitist association approachable to young artists again and consequently expected to revolutionise its rigid idea of “Avantgarde”. The different departments were dissipated; organisational and artistic issues were separated from each other, which discouraged projects that evolved around individuals. The FORUM STADTPARK theatre, Camera Austria and manuskripte parted ways.
Rebuilding and the jubilee
In 1997, Peter Zinagel succeeded Walter Grond. During his tenure, the house was rebuilt and a first floor was added. In 2003, Anton Lederer became chairman and combined the separate departments to form one committee in charge of cultural work – the Programmforum. This new development was a significant step in the encouragement of interdisciplinary work. In 2009, FORUM STADTPARK celebrated its 50 year jubilee with Bernhard Wolf as chairman.
FORUM STADTPARK sees itself as an interdisciplinary society devoted to a wide concept of arts and interdisciplinary work. On three floors, 150 events including architecture, literature, fine arts, film, photography, medial art, fashion, music, theatre, performance and theoretical contents take place each year, the majority of them free of charge. The association’s claim is to present a laboratory and a platform to many circles of local, Austrian and international culture production. Since 2011, Heidrun Primas is chairwoman of FORUM STADTPARK.
The management since Kolleritsch
1995-1997: W. Grond / P. Zinagel (deputy chairperson) / G. Ostanek (treasurer)
1997-2003: P. Zinganel / G. Muhr (deputy chairperson) / G. Ostanek (treasurer)
2003-2007: A. Lederer / R. Binder-Krieglstein (deputy chairperson) / A. Putz (treasurer)
2007-2009: B. Wolf / C. Peschl (deputy chairperson) / A. Putz, since 2008 K. Petrowitsch (treasurer)
2009 - 2011: C. Peschl / H. Primas (deputy chairperson) / K. Petrowitsch (treasurer)
since 2011: H. Primas / J. Schrettle (deputy chairperson) / U. Musil (treasurer)
Literature concerning FORUM STADTPARK
Rigler, Christine: Generationen. Literatur im Forum Stadtpark 1960-1995. Droschl Verlag. Graz 1995. ISBN: 3-85420-422-1
Christine Rigler (Hrsg.): Forum Stadtpark – die Grazer Avantgarde von 1960 bis heute. Böhlau Verlag. Wien 2002. ISBN: 3-205-99487-6