For more than a quarter of a century she has guaranteed continuity at the Salzburg Festival, pacified trouble spots, won the hearts of sponsors and given her office an unexpected significance with her abundance of activities: It is great sadness that Helga Rabl-Stadler, at the end of December, after around 27 years Presidency of the Salzburg Festival finally resigned.
Of course, there is also great pressure to find a successor of a suitable format. 32 candidates had applied by the beginning of November, the end of the application period, according to Governor Wilfried Haslauer’s office; 22 of them come from Germany, ten from abroad, 19 are women and 13 men. The demands on the applicants are reminiscent of the outgoing boss’s range of skills: the new manager should have knowledge of international cultural life and the Salzburg scene, should have a basic understanding of the work of a director and commercial agendas – and should radiate social competence as well as beneficial to alleged donors act. The board of trustees of the Salzburg Festival, which will decide this freestyle, will meet for the next time on November 23rd. It remains to be seen whether there will be a “short list” by then or only after that.
ÖVP dominance in the committee
What is certain, however, is that political will flow into this election. This is obvious with a publicly subsidized and operated festival: the owners are represented on the board of trustees of the festival – and thus representatives of the federal government, the state and the city of Salzburg as well as the state’s tourism promotion fund.
The dominance of the ÖVP in the body suggests that. However, observers warn that the cast could only follow the political theory of colors – and saw their fears reinforced in the previous days. According to media reports, Brigitta Pallauf, President of the Salzburg State Parliament, is also fighting for the job. SPÖ cultural spokeswoman Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek warns of “filling positions à la turquoise” and calls for an “impeccable professional” for the city of Mozart.
It is currently uncertain whether the Prestige Festival will receive an appropriate manager – there is a lot of speculation about candidates: The name dropping from Stiftung Mozarteum President Johannes Honsig-Erlenburg to ORF boss Alexander Wrabetz (the denied) to singer Angelika Kirchschlager and ÖVP politician Ursula Plassnik. The festival will go public again by December 10th at the latest – and at least announce the program for next summer.