The Watch

Festspielhaus Hellerau

Hellerau, Dresden, Saxony, Germany

1996 World Monuments Watch

The Festspielhaus Hellerau is one of the birthplaces of modernism as well as an important artifact of European architectural and cultural history. Designed by Heinrich Tessenow to house the Rhythmic Dance School of Jacques Dalcroze and the innovative stage designs of Adolphe Appia, the Festspielhaus introduced new concepts regarding the unity of the arts – architecture, music, dance, and theater. The institute rapidly gained worldwide attention until Dalcroze's departure from Germany during World War I. In 1938 it became a police academy and then an SS barracks. Under Communism the Soviet Army occupied the Festspielhaus, which deteriorated due to neglect. Germans were forbidden to enter and only occasional maintenance took place. Liberated in 1990, the building can now be returned to appropriate use and its rich history preserved. Recognition by the international community is key to ensuring the survival of the Festspielhaus as a dynamic center for culture in Europe.

Since the Watch

Restoration of the Festspielhaus Hellerau was spearheaded by a $250,000 grant from the Getty Foundation, and a complete restoration was carried out with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Free State of Saxony, the City of Dresden, and the German Foundation for Monument Protection (Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz). The entrance hall, foyer, and parts of the portico of the Festspielhaus were restored. The space was initially colonized by several performing arts groups, and in 2004 the Hellerau European Arts Centre (Europäisches Zentrum der Künste Hellerau) was formally established. Today Hellerau houses a number of different arts institutions, which aspire to transform the former Festspielhaus into one of the most important centers for contemporary art in Europe for the second time in its history. February 2011

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