Alternative culture in Salzburg

Josef Kirchner, credit: Johannes Amersdorfer/ARGEkultur


Meet Josef Kirchner, head of Public Relations and Marketing at ARGEkultur, Salzburg. ARGEkultur is the city’s leading cultural hotspot and in short, Josef is truly the glue of the company and the man who connects the dots. Salzburg is a small, attractive city with many tourists only experiencing the classical music aspect. However, if you look beyond this stereotypical view of Salzburg, there is so much more to be discovered. It is organisations, such as ARGEkultur, who bring even more life and energy to the city. But before diving deep into Josef’s life at ARGEkultur, let us discover what happens at Salzburg’s leading cultural hotspot.

ARGEkultur is located just a walk away from the city centre and is a building which holds a variety of creativity and diversity for such a small city. Speaking passionately about the company, Kirchner says “ARGEkultur was the first place where different art genres took place and still take place, so we are a house for regional as well as international artists in music, performing arts and visual arts.” ARGEkultur organises roughly 325 events a year for Salzburg, the events range from stand-up comedy to cabaret to poetry slams and much more.

Credit: Johannes Amersdorfer/ARGEkultur

Although the company is way ahead in terms of capacity and diversity, it is not the only spot in the city music wise. Alongside ARGEkultur, other music venues in the city include the Rockhouse (a place for rock music lovers) and Jazzit (a place for jazz music lovers).

So, what is Kirchner’s role within this truly cultural, creative and busy organisation? Kirchner has been the head of Public Relations and Marketing for the past twelve months. He is the communicator, for example emailing and phoning, and certainly the man holding the strings together. Kirchner connects people, such as the photographers with the event organisers, the intern with the extern and he of course has to deal with the press. Kirchner says “I’m like a network hub to connect all the dots. Parallel to this I have a small publishing house for poetry and short stories, this has been in development over the last years, so we are growing slow and steady.”

Kirchner also develops the flyers, posters and advertisements for each event by ARGEkultur and surprisingly this is where most of the hard work lies. He says “The main difficulty is getting the right picture or writing for different audiences. That’s the difference to, for example, the Rockhouse because it has one clear audience and we have several different types of audiences. Therefore, for the cabaret audience we need another language than for the concert audience. Developing different styles which are still recognised with ARGEkultur is something I enjoy playing with.”

Aside from busy days at the office with ARGEkultur and his small publishing house, Kirchner organized a lot of events in Salzburg, such as public cinema in the summer and a festival for performing arts. It is fair to say that Salzburg is not one of the leading cultural hotspots of Europe and the city has a lot to discover. Kirchner says “When you make a free screening of experimental movies in summer, you’re the first person to do that here. Or if you make a magazine for young authors in Salzburg you are the only one to do this. In other cities this is normal, but for here this is special. If I do the projects I do here for example in  Berlin, I am one among hundreds and here I am the only one and that’s the cool thing, you can create your city like you want it. That is the positive aspect, but the negative aspect is you are alone.”

Describing one of his festivals in performing arts and literature organised for Salzburg, Kirchner says “We realised there is a need for this. We saw so many people going to this festival just because something is happening in Salzburg and this period was very cool to see. If you call them, they will come. This showed us that there is a need for something more that the old institutions cannot always fulfil.”

ARGEkultur has clearly been a huge cultural and creative benefit to Salzburg. Speaking about how it has impacted the city, Kirchner says “On the one hand, the city benefits from the organisation and the organisation benefits from the city, therefore they complement each other. Some organisations like us are stable in their planning, however smaller organisations have to ask for money year after year. We have a longer arrangement so we can plan for more years to come, this helps us to be a little bit free in our choices and programme.”

He continues, “For example, now we have new curator, the last curator was here eleven years and what you see now is due to the old curator. The new one goes in and kicks a lot of it out and puts new people in so new events are always made. This will be a new start for ARGEkultur. At the end of the year, the new programme will kick into place and then we will see how the audience reacts to that, but we expect a stronger focus on the themes.”

With a new start for the company just around the corner, ARGEkultur hope to connect and intertwine their events. For example, a cabaret with a discussion or a concert with a reading, the reason for this is to bring different audiences together. Kirchner says “This would be very new to this house and also a major development.”


Salzburg is a historic, trendy and must-see city and with people such as Kirchner organising a variety of events for residents and visitors, within time the city may be a popular destination for the younger generation.