Heavy Tunes from Steel City
Daniel Graf and Stefan Schaffer of JEC in Kapfenberg discuss their plans for concerts in the heart of Styria
The "JugendEventClub" (JEC) in Kapfenberg, Austria, attracts the attention of a nationwide public sector stakeholder in establishing the underground scene. How is it possible to do this kind of work without much money, only with hope in mind and ambition in heart? We asked Daniel Graf and Stefan Schaffer of JEC in Kapfenberg about their plans and promoting concerts in the heart of Styria, just a few miles away from Arnold Schwarzenegger's hometown.
Please let our readers know about the concept behind "JugendEventClub".
The "JugendEventClub" is a community effort. Our purpose is about consistently following this idea. In fact, our members take the decisions. It makes them more responsible. If there is a suggestion for an event by one of our members, we try to implement this idea. Each member knows about upcoming dates through our newsletter infrastructure.
When it comes to subsidized youth culture, Kapfenberg is a sleepy town in Upper Styria. How did taking a step into the direction of music underground in the "City of Böhler" (the steel and welding corporation) come to mind?
We know that it is very tough to get gigs as a newcomer band. We decided to take it into our own hands, so we turned our rehearsal room into a concert location. In fact, we were successful. We planned gigs for local bands, and with pleasure, we had the infrastructure in place and learned quite a lot. All of the income we gained through our concerts we re-invested in the show. So, it was possible to book some national "big players" for our concerts. We took a huge step, making night life in Kapfenberg grow. Our club provides newcomers with opportunities to expose themselves in front of considerable crowds. There are some critical aspects in terms of municipal development we have to explain. We "own" the only opportunity of doing shows and planning events on the municipal territory without hurdles of red-tape.
What can the audience expect from JEC in Kapfenberg? How often are concerts staged at the venue?
Our visitors will be overwhelmed by the family-like atmosphere. We are doing everything we can to make the crowd enjoy their visit. While the visitor at a big event assumes the role of spectator, at the JEC he will become part of the event. We always try to use any slot available, so it is possible to organize live performances once a month.
Are there any preferred genres you are staging? Are there any local bands involved?
We always try to provide some kind of mixture in our events. Most of the time, it is highly guitar-driven; from rock to ska to punk, metal is another genre we highlight. Local bands play an important role at the JEC. This is due to our past. We know how hard it can be to get gigs. Many famous acts from the local scene have good memories of the JEC.
The venue is an old place near the city of Kapfenberg. What's the capacity? What are the conditions bands should expect?
Our events are well-visited, but it is very difficult to increase audience figures without any support. We are trying to keep the family-like atmosphere at the JEC, and so our capacity is 200. We follow the increasing trend to organizing private parties. Conditions are very flexible. It depends on the artist.
What about sponsoring? Is there any financial support by the City of Kapfenberg, the Styrian funds or by private-sector patrons? Are there any media co-operations and how important is that kind of co-operation in this region of Austria?
We receive an annual subsidy by the Secretary of Youth in Styria. The "Pot" administered by the City of Kapfenberg is something we don't have access to (don't ask me why not). Sometimes we receive "subsidies" by them, like a bit of motivation or words. We are not scared about it, and so we're trying to find some private-sector sponsors. This kind of sponsoring is not that easy to find, but with good communication, everything is possible. Media co-operation is something, we are into. But there truly is some development work to do. Still, we're optimistic about it, because the 21st century gives us the tool of the Internet, so we are able to find different channels, to distribute our message.
Between the late 1990s and the beginning of the new century, Kapfenberg sported venues like the "Bunte Fabrik" or an annual festival called "CityRock". What happened to those "monoliths of cultural expression" in Styria?
Like before, the "Bunte Fabrik" is a spot for young people to meet and do workshops or learn about prevention of abuse. Only rarely are concerts organized, let alone pull a crowd. CityRock is a great event on May 1. Many people visit this spectacle of underground music. Only one event a year is quite lousy for a city like Kapfenberg when it is about satisfying those interested in culture. Much more should be done!
Both the gastronomy sector and nightlife are growing in Kapfenberg because of some kind of local stimulus program initiated by the City of Kapfenberg. What are your plans for turning Kapfenberg into an entertainment hot spot?
We are strict advocates of the ideas in terms of the stimulus program at the "University Kapfenberg". There are some good ideas which have gone unnoticed but have been initiated autonomously by city dwellers. The JEC prepared a catalogue of innovations and presented a dossier. We try to turn a grayish, archaic city into a green, future-oriented biotope. We try to initiate this through our events.
Are booking agents invited to learning about the meaning of your inventions in terms of event culture? How are they able to get in touch with the JEC?
Sure, we try to answer every single request. Because of our reduced financial clout, we can't fulfill all wishes in terms of co-operation. But we can try if the opportunity will make both of us happy.