Bregenz, centre of culture

How "cultivated" the people in a given region are can be gauged by the way they shape their own future.

Festspielhaus Bregenz Bühnenturm Ausschnitt mit Himmel © Dominic Kummer

How “cultivated” the people in a given region are can be gauged by, among other things, how they stand on their children’s education, on social responsibility, openness to others, and their environment. In a word, the way they shape their own future. And included in that, of course, is the role played by art, literature, music and dance – that is, all those realms that, regarded superficially, may not seem to be essential for survival. And yet if we examine Vorarlberg – and especially Bregenz – from this angle, then we come to the legitimate conclusion that culture supplies something like an indispensable nourishment that sustains people’s development. How else are we to explain the wealth of events here that are devoted to this intangible, supposedly inessential sphere?


Of Bregenz Festival, little more needs to be said in this connection. It possesses global appeal, detached nowadays from the town that hosts it. Bregenz Festival House, however, has become an important place of inspiration and point of departure for other regular events. Some examples are the dance festival Bregenzer Frühling, which brings the most internationally respected dance companies to town, classical music concerts featuring big-name performers, and the Theater Kosmos with its venue shed8 which today has the important function of culturally linking the town centre with the suburbs. And if visitors – perhaps people attending a conference at the congress centre – go into the town centre, they will see that Bregenz well deserves the title “centre of culture” even without the Bregenz Festival. On the central square Kornmarktplatz near the waterfront, the importance attached to appreciation of the arts is demonstrated by the impressive ensemble of fine buildings, namely Vorarlberg Museum, Vorarlberg Theater with its two stages, and the arts centre Kunsthaus Bregenz. They define the town’s skyline with their architecture, its discourse with their programmes, and also the lives of the inhabitants and guests with their aura.


And having such a concentration of supply and demand here encourages other cultural initiatives, large and small, to establish themselves in town. Which means it’s always possible, in the side streets somewhere, to find an exhibition, a reading, a concert or a lecture where you can drop in spontaneously. To give an impression of this diversity, a selection of entrance facades to some of the event centres – major and minor, central and peripherally located – are presented here side by side in egalitarian style.


Not shown here are the large number of restaurants and cafés, which radiate the town’s cultural atmosphere too, albeit via different senses. Just in the centre of Bregenz there are about eighty establishments where guests can refresh, rest or amuse themselves in company. Incidentally there is one attraction whose massive appeal most residents are a bit perplexed about: a house in Kirchstraße, whose facade is only 42 centimetres wide. It’s mentioned in practically all the guidebooks as Europe’s narrowest building. A nice photo opportunity for visitors to the town – as is one special event that can be experienced down at the lakeside at the end of a day of fine weather: the sunset. For many, this is definitely one of the best shows of all.



Plakatsujet "Carmen"
Jugend- und Kulturzentrum Between
Kunsthaus Bregenz