Hamburg's creative hit on new ways of tackling crisis

Corona prompts rethink of business and sales channels
27 May 2020
Lombardsbrücke in Hamburg

Love always finds a way - even of bypassing corona rules, which are presently proving an obstacle to large events like wedding ceremonies. Anne Meier, a professional event organizer, runs several branches of her Waterkant company across Hamburg and corona has left all of them vacant for the moment. 

"Wedding Box Later, Darling!"

Meier hit on the idea for "Wedding Box Later, Darling!" to make the wait for couples, who have decided to postpone their wedding ceremony, a little more bearable. The box contains ingredients for a small, feisty wedding party for two including sparklers (Sparks of Love), flower seeds (Let Love Grow) and pre-stamped postcards (Spread the Love) to notify guests about the new date. Meier relies heavily on local input when it comes to cuisine. Apart from the traditional sparkling wine and specially designed glasses, the menu includes Bazic vodka, which is produced in Hamburg, a sweet treat from the Schmidt & Schmidtchen bakery and a strong broth by Rolling Taste caterers, who have also turned creative amid the crisis.

Breeding a herd of cattle 

Moritz Crone-Rawe and Timon Mansholt, founders of Rolling Taste, had a herd of Herford cattle bred last year in the hope of feeding 52,000 ravenous delegates at this year's digital "Online Marketing Rockstars Festival". The cancellation of OMR has left them with mounds of raw meat. The duo were keen on finding a holistic and sustainable solution to this meaty dilemma and their efforts have resulted in a nose-to-tail idea i.e. various packages containing raw and ready-to-cook products that use all of the beef - from braised or pulled-beef to liver and broth, which Meier is adding to the wedding boxes. "The 'Wedding Box' is probably the only way of generating any income at all this year," said Meier.

Gamevention triples number of offers 

Anne Meier, wedding planner

Weddings cannot be moved simply to the internet. However, the games industry is faring slightly better. Those behind the gamevention in Hamburg, which launched to great success in 2019, have decided to reinvent themselves and stream an online digital festival three times a year. Gamescom, one of the world's largest trade fairs for computer and video games, is also going entirely digital this year with its own design and extra features. The gamecity:Hamburg will also be on hand and has designed a digital stand with Indie Arena Booth that includes lots of quirky features. 


Anders Indset, a speaker at the 2020 virtual ADC Festival
© Yvonne Scheller

No Congress? No!

Online viewers also had an opportunity to attend international keynotes thanks to the ADC Festival 2020’s livestream in mid-May. Around 900 interested people followed the event on Facebook true to the motto of "No Congress? No!" Keynote speakers including Anders Indset, an economist, Oobah Butler, a filmmaker and bestselling author, Mihnea Gheorghiu, an advertiser, and Professor Michael Braungart, the pioneer of the cradle-to-cradle design concept, offered plenty of creative impulses. Dr. Carsten Brosda, Senator for Culture and Media, also took part and noted the entire new meaning of the 2020 motto “The Power of No” amid the corona crisis.  "As we are experiencing ultimate disruption, a huge no owing to the pandemic, we have to find ways of living our everyday lives as we know and love them, in the future as well. We need the certainty, confidence and strength to develop something new together to which we can all say yes." Hosting the congress virtually will help to create this newness, Brosda added.




EUR 225,000 for crowdfunding campaigns

An "Aid Package for Culture" has been drawn up to help people working in Hamburg's cultural sector. As part of the senate's protective shield, the Department of Culture and Media has raised its budget by EUR 25 million to cushion the impact of corona. The ministry is also supporting crowdfunding campaigns backed by the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft. Anyone about to launch a project in any sector can apply for grants of up to EUR 5,000 for creative business services e.g. photos, texts, videos or graphic design. A total of EUR 225,000 has been earmarked for this purpose. "When orders fail to materialise and business models no longer work in a crisis, alternative sources of revenue are needed. Crowdfunding can be a good means of giving projects the financial and communicative boost they need to overcome the crisis," said Egbert Rühl, Managing Director of Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft.

Non-festival yields EUR 444,444 

Crowds also put on shows of solidarity at the non-festival "Keiner kommt, alle mitmachen" and raised EUR 444,444 for Hamburg's cultural scene. Basically, tickets were sold for a festival that absolutely nobody attended - no bands, no artists, no visitors. "My ambitious goal was EUR 50,000 initially. We raised that after just a few days. We have since sold out the city's largest concert hall twice. I never dared to even dream that it would draw such large crowds and enormous attention," said the initiator, Lars Meier, Chairman of MenscHHamburg e.V. and Managing Director of Gute Leude Fabrik.


Pianist in Stage School Hamburg behind Plexisglas partition
© Stage School Hamburg
Pianist in Stage School Hamburg behind Plexiglas partition

Stage School Hamburg stepping back 

Talented young artists can get back on track now that some of the corona restrictions have been eased. The Stage School Hamburg resumed teaching last week (May 18,2020), but "proximity is no more", according to the rules. However, conveying the adage to the passionate young artists is tougher than organising lessons on scene work, musical dance or song and training in acting, dance and singing also had to be revamped. Prior to corona, the budding performers rehearsed choreographies for the entire stage or ensemble pieces. Now the focus is on solo pieces and individual work. Only a quarter of the usual number of students are admitted to the extremely condensed lessons. "All holidays as well as Saturday lessons have been cancelled and the students, divided by year, start early in the morning and work until late in the evening," said Annett Bär, a spokeswoman for Stage School Hamburg. Complying with the regulations on social distancing is not a problem as the school is more than 4,000 square metres in size. "There are six pupils per 140 square metres of (dance) space," Bär pointed out. And if there is not enough space, the First Stage Theater attached to the school can be used.

Non-profit initiative stirring up optimism

The non-profit initiative JetztErstRecht.Hamburg is encouraging students to look positively towards the future. The social media campaign launched by the finest blogger, NinetyoneMedia and Xperients agencies, uses celebrities' voices to get the people of Hamburg out again in support of their local restaurateurs, artists, cultural and leisure facilities. The signature tune for this campaign is sung by Jule (Seemanstochter literally sailor's daughter), who firmly believes: "A receding tide is followed by a high flow!"