Is Chris Dercon Leaving Tate Modern To Head a Theater in Berlin?

Chris Dercon
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Director of Tate Modern, Chris Dercon, is rumored to be negotiating a new appointment as artistic director of the experimental Berlin theater Volksbühne, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports.

If this is confirmed, Dercon would replace current theater director, Frank Castorf, whose contract runs out at the end of 2017.

Castorf will have been at the helm of the Volksbühne for 25 years.

The speculations first started when Dercon was spotted with Berlin’s cultural affairs secretary, Tim Renner, at the experimental theater house’s 100th anniversary last year.

Renner, a former music producer, was appointed in early 2014, bringing a breath of fresh air to Berlin’s department of cultural affairs (see Music Producer Tim Renner to Head Berlin’s Cultural Policy).

He has made no secret of his disapproval of Castorf’s reign at the Volksbühne (which is bankrolled by the senate, like all state-run theaters) and has made the elusive statement that the theater must be “rethought.”

If the rumors are indeed substantiated–a spokesperson for the senate’s department of cultural affairs did not deny, saying they were currently “negotiating”–the appointment won’t go into effect until 2017.

Chris Dercon holds a degree in Theater Studies, but has never directed a theater house. The German media has already criticized the unconfirmed appointment pointing to Dercon’s lack of experience. Managing a theater, cross-disciplinary though it may be, is “very different from curating shows,” the SZ writes.

Before becoming director at London’s Tate Modern in 2011, Dercon headed the Haus der Kunst in Munich.

The speculation emerged at the same time as Penelope Curtis’s resignation from Tate Britain was made public (see Penelope Curtis Leaves Tate Britain for Calouste Gulbenkian Museum after Highly Criticized 5-Year Tenure).

A Tate spokesperson told artnet news that “Tate would not discuss speculation of this kind.”

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