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4 questions to Prof. Christian Höppner.

An interview with the Secretary General of the Deutsche Musikrat (German Music Council) and President of the Deutsche Kulturrat (German Cultural Council).

Prof. Christian Höppner is Secretary of the German Music Council and President of the German Cultural Council.  The cello player and conductor is a GVL rightsholder and has been supporting the needs of musicians and creatives in various functions for many years. 

Christian Höppner

GVL: You have been Secretary General of the German Music Council and President of the German Cultural Council. Both associations are pillars in terms of cultural and cultural-political efforts in Germany. Where do the two functions complement each other in terms of your daily work and where do they differ? 

Höppner: Cultural policy is social policy. The German Music Council and the other seven sections of the German Cultural Council. share this conviction. Based on this foundation, the result is a socio-political and effective “togetherness”. As such, the German Music Council is contributing within the committees of the German Cultural Council with its expertise. It also reinforces the cultural-political work of the latter and puts a clear emphasis on the protection and the promotion of cultural diversity. Entirely in line with the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which, along with our statutes, forms the basis for our music-political work. 

The German Music Council, the world’s largest national umbrella association of music life, reflects the core concept of said Convention and its three main pillars in its structure and the contents of its work: Protection and promotion of cultural heritage, contemporary artistic forms of expression and other cultures of origin.

The 100 umbrella associations and organisations of professional music life and amateur musicianship, and the 16 regional music councillors contribute with their work which is mostly influenced in federal terms. A comprehensive and diverse network with a music and cultural-political competence is the result of the interaction between main and honorary office of the General Assembly of Members and the Executive Committee. About 300 volunteers are providing their expertise in the federal expert committees and project councils alone.

The difference to comparable civil umbrella associations stems from the two footholds of our work as a music council: the cultural-political and practical promotion activities. The 13 projects of the German Music Council which are bundled in its legal form, the DMR gGmBH in Bonn, set exemplary impulses in terms of youth promotion, they enrich music life and are a medium for our music-political messages. An effective entity, more than just the sum of its parts, is created as a whole due to the Berlin initiatives (“Berliner Appelle”) which are passed by the General Assembly of Members, and the respective project work. 

It is more important than ever for GVL to get involved at a cultural level.

How important is it in your view that GVL supports the German Music Council? 

The promotion by GVL is a vital building block for the content of our work and makes it possible that there is a meaningful exemplary impulse for music life in many places, e.g. the Federal Youth Orchestra, the Federal Jazz Orchestra, the German Music Competition, the Conducting Forum, the Podium “Presence” and the Music Information Centre. Apart from that, GVL stands up for a sustainable cultural promotion which is rather an exception in the cultural promotion landscape and priceless in terms of the work that has been conceptualised for the long term.

GVL and the German Music Council have been joint shareholders of Initiative Musik since their foundation. How have you experienced the development of Initiative Musik

A success story par excellence. Since Initiative Musik had been founded in 2007 by the two founding shareholders, GVL and DMR, the establishment of the Federal Ministry of Culture (BKM) and the promotion by GVL and GEMA, Initiative Musik has become the central promotional place of the Federal Government and the music sector for the German music industry.  It stands for the promotion of all genres of popular music. 

Today, this includes the promotion of artists, structural funding, support for export projects, the Applause Award and the German Jazz Award, and the Academy for Popular Music, as well as the realisation of six sub-programmes within the framework of the rescue and future package of NEUSTART KULTUR of the BKM. 

Initiative Musik has not only become an indispensable pillar for our music life within the meaning of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions but also a steady rock in these stormy times. This is due to the successful engagement of our Board member Dieter Gorny who has just been re-elected as Chairman of the Board of Initiative Musik, of the extraordinary involvement of the Federal Ministry of Culture and its staff in every way, and of a creative team with its two Managing Directors, Ina Kessler and Tina Sikorski. 

You have been a cello player and conductor for more than 30 years and are a rights holder of GVL yourself. What kind of contribution does GVL make in your view for performers and labels?

From a perspective of my former freelance activities in terms of artistic and educational work, and from today’s perspective of the often difficult to disastrous framework conditions for solopreneurs, it is more important than ever that GVL manages rights in its fiduciary function and gets involved at a cultural level.” 

Picture: © Christoph Soeder/dpa