With the #CreatorsForDiversity 2021 support programme, TikTok also called on German cultural institutions for the first time to become an active part of this young and vibrant social media network. “Become ‘Creators for Diversity’, create diversity-themed short videos on TikTok and show us who and what make up and enrich your institution” – that was the task at hand.

One defined goal of the Bayerische Staatsoper’s new digital strategy is to get to grips with digital trends and technologies with regard to their cultural potential. General Manager Serge Dorny therefore decided together with his Communication and Outreach Team on an application for funding, and thanks to an idea-rich concept secured additional funding assistance.

“We want to evaluate digital trends with regard to their cultural potential.”

Since September, we have therefore been posting a whole lot of “content” on our new TikTok channel. Content, so in the TikTok universe short music videos with quick cuts, poppy sounds and constantly enriched with text or emoji cross-fades. Our videos are sometimes more and sometimes less profound, not always to be taken so seriously and often with a wink and a nudge – but they always take a loving look behind the scenes of our institution and provide our artists and performers a new experimental stage.

 

Along with exploring TikTok trends, a key idea of the concept is also a serious and artistic examination of the diversity topic. During the course of the funding project, we therefore specifically invite directors to thoughtfully, personally and of course also critically get to grips with everything to do with diversity.

With this in mind, the enriching collaboration with director Caner Akdeniz came into being in autumn 2021. For Caner, diversity at our opera house doesn’t just entail the fact that performers of the most diverse nationalities stand together on the stage every day. It also represents the diversity of the people that have been employed with us for many years now, but who are never actually seen or noticed by the audience.

“The stage behind the stage”

The video series, “The stage behind the stage”, designed and implemented by Caner Akdeniz, presents four Bayerische Staatsoper employees at their work. Each of them is busy every single day with the opera’s content, whether they want to or not. Whether it’s being there at rehearsals, when cleaning staff member Athina Theodoridou mops the floor of the auditorium. Whether it’s putting out the advertising materials in the magnificent halls and rooms, a task that Ilias Ziakas performs every day. Whether it’s the fire prevention patrol through the building, with which Michael Lamprecht ensures a safe workplace for our performers and co-workers. Whether it’s the dependence on the programme, which Ognjen Dudić must adhere to as the chef who knows only too well when which performance is running and which meal will be just right for the respective intermission length. These four people from different work areas are directly influenced by the artistic creativity at the opera, by the number of people in the audience, and by what’s happening on the stage.

Caner Akdeniz observes these people and manages to bring their connection with the opera house to life with impressive images. In informal, long chats, the director first got to know the people he had in front of him, and observed characteristics that he connected with key opera figures – such as Siegfried, Faust or Parsifal. Caner visualised this connection in short videos: with actions that happen with their work, with symbolic objects that are used every day, but also with looks and conveyed emotions of the people who have now become actors. The patience and honest interest Caner Akdeniz meets his counterparts with makes them proud representatives of our opera house. With devotion, they show what their everyday involves, allow the director to be part of personal experiences and bring their own ideas to the film project. And at the end, although they’ve sacrificed a few of their own free hours, filmed scenes several times and have committed themselves beyond that required, they then thank their director – for his interest in their work. For the recognition that without it the opera would function just as little as it would without the stars out on the big stage.

Discovering "the stage behind the stage"

Art videos like this are truly something new for the TikTok platform. And admittedly, despite the most diverse hashtag combinations and the “right” posting time (in the evening, between 8 pm and 10 pm, no insider tip), the algorithm doesn’t absorb them very well. Because they are longer than the recommended 15 seconds, perhaps? Because they use so-called “original sounds”, so in-house recordings of the Bayerisches Staatsorchester, instead of one of the currently trending sounds, perhaps? Our #hinterderbühne series doesn’t follow any of the usual TikTok trends. And nevertheless there are enthusiastic reactions to the videos, such as, “moving” or “really cool”! Occasionally the TikTok followers therefore recognise that these are more than just short trend videos. They are videos that try out something new, which transcend the platform’s boundaries, and the boundaries within our institution’s hierarchy. And this is seen and applauded.

This experiment was made possible by the #CreatorsForDiversity support programme. We can of course think what we will about the flashy new platform and no doubt for many people past their 20s it seems rather more like a bundling of hysterical banalities than it does a symbol of rich-in-substance cultural pleasure. But for precisely this reason, we as the Bayerische Staatsoper sound out the boundaries between these poles with enthusiasm and curiosity and enjoy discovering unchartered territory.

Interested in exploring this new territory together with us? Then we cordially invite you to visit us on TikTok, follow our feed and watch on for the remaining weeks of our experiment. We’ll be posting further art videos with different directors and performers, but will also continue to have fun here, following frivolous trends and simply romping away a little. The feed shows the range of our diverse institution with the help of the Costume and Make-up department and to some degree the TikTok-savvy younger members of the Opera Studio or the Bayerisches Staatsballett.

You’ll find us here

Visit our TikTok feed here

Any questions or suggestions?
Please feel free to write an e-mail to Henriette von Schnakenburg (TikTok Project Manager) or Kathrin Zeitler (Digital Strategy Manager): onlineredaktion@staatsoper.de
We look forward to your feedback!