It’s official: Stefan Schmidtke is the managing director of the European Capital of Culture 2025 GmbH.

The internationally renowned cultural manager and programme maker comes from Döbeln in Saxony and has led outstanding cultural and theatre festivals in Europe and Germany in recent years.

From 1 December 2021, he will take over the duties of the previous interim managing director, Dr Christoph Dittrich.

In the coming weeks and months, Stefan Schmidtke will expand and build up the team together with Dr. Christoph Dittrich in order to be able to present a foretaste of 2025 as early as next year.

One of his central tasks will also be to realise and organise the programmatic ideas of the Bidbook. “The programme is the heart of the matter for us. And from it we design the structures with the Chemnitz players,” says Schmidtke. “The search committee with equal representation voted unanimously in favour of him,” emphasised Dr. Micaela Schönherr as a member of the supervisory board at the press conference.

Born in Döbeln in 1968, Stefan Schmidtke is one of Germany’s cultural managers with accomplished international founding and work experience. His career has included founding and managing the Theaterformen festival in Hanover and Braunschweig, setting up and managing the programme department of the European Capital of Culture 2011 in Tallinn, and many years of work as a curator at the Wiener Festwochen, most recently as theatre director. At the Humboldt Forum in Berlin, he was responsible for building up the programme and events department from 2016 to 2018.

Stefan Schmidtke:I am coming back to my homeland. Here I can put on something wonderful and unique – never in my life would I have thought that I would be able to give all my experiences back in this way to my home, which has shaped me. Frank Castorf’s production of DER BAU at the Chemnitz Theatre marked the beginning of my cultural journey, and now I am invited to help shape a European Capital of Culture with the people of Chemnitz, with the residents of the region, in the Czech Republic and in Poland. I am very grateful for that.”

Dr Christoph Dittrich: “As a cultural manager here in Chemnitz and Saxony, I am very pleased that we have been able to win Stefan Schmidtke, a first-class expert, for our Capital of Culture. I will still be assisting him on a transitional basis in the coming months so that we can put together a top-class and efficient team for the GmbH – with regional expertise and international experience as well as with heart and soul and passion for Chemnitz and the European idea of the Capital of Culture.”

Lord Mayor Sven Schulze: “Stefan Schmidtke very much convinced the selection committee in the selection interviews and we are sure that with his decades of experience on the international cultural stage he will organise a wonderful Capital of Culture year based on our application book. We will all support him and his team, which will clearly take shape in the coming weeks and months, in only every way possible.

Photos: Johannes Richter