Steen Jørgensen has built a wooden house at the back of his garden. One coronahytte, he calls it. It is a solid edifice with panoramic views of a field and plywood on the inner walls.
Something tangible in an early summer where most of it ran out between his fingers.
2020 should have been a fantastic year for the Copenhagen venue Vega and director Steen Jørgensen. A fire had otherwise closed a concert hall in mid-February, yet the venue reached well above budget in March.
As you know, it was a fantastic year for very few, and Vega, which usually has 350 concert days a year and almost 200 employees, first had to reduce the audience to 1,000 people and then shut down completely due to the pandemic.
“There was a huge contrast from walking out the door one day and stepping in the door the next,” says Steen Jørgensen about the day in March, Denmark closed down.
“In the beginning, the perception was that covid-19 was something that would pass relatively quickly. Therefore, we had a concrete task of pushing all our events forward. We had a few months where we tried, but we were hugely affected by the uncertainty. “
As the virus spread, it became more and more clear to the director that especially the concerts with international musicians would have long prospects. Some employees were laid off and it was difficult to motivate the remaining ones who went home for months.
‘It was like working in fog. Where does the world end up? We tried to read the development and worked towards the future without a clue as to whether we had chosen the right path, “says Steen Jørgensen.
Time to reflect
The void left by the canceled concerts gave, for the first time in the director’s working life, time to look inward.
“I decided to find the time to reflect on what the new situation meant for not just my job, but for myself and my family. It has been a shaking of the whole way we as a society have laid out our lives. “
This is where the corona hut comes into the picture. The wooden house, which shot up into the garden during the early summer, quickly became a counterpoint to the uncertainty that dominated Steen Jørgensen’s working life.
“I needed to have something concrete where I could be allowed to see things evolve as I built them. It was a fantastic process, “he says and continues:
“Something happens to people during extended periods where you don’t see any people. I have not experienced this before. It has been instructive and disturbing at the same time. In that scenario, the work has been a point of reference after all. “
For Steen Jørgensen, the work has been constant preparations for a reopening of Vega, which has not held concerts with standing audiences for almost a year.
“We have been constantly working on scenarios, possibilities and limitations. On the one hand, we have said goodbye to key employees and tried to ensure that we can get through financially. On the other hand, we must still have the necessary resources to be able to develop. “
A normal state is far in the future
From a political point of view, Steen Jørgensen could well have imagined that it had previously been noticed that the culture could not be cut across one ridge.
»Cultural life is a multi-headed monster. It is organized in an incredible number of different ways and has different needs. We would each like to have our own pool, ”he says.
For Vega, it has been especially challenging to have to work with a short-term perspective and be ready to shut down or open at short notice.
“We need precise statements about the future. We do not have a red button we can press if we are told we can open again tomorrow, “says Steen Jørgensen.
When Vega will play for full houses again, no one knows. The director hopes that there will be an end to seating concerts and that the audience can get up again, on the other side of the summer.
“A normal state, as things were before, is very far in the future. Especially in relation to the international music scene. But I think we’ll probably have to get through. We will lose money, but I think we will manage it, “says Steen Jørgensen.
Source: www.berlingske.dk by www.berlingske.dk.
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