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26th Linzer Pflasterspektakel: 19. - 21. July 2012
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Pflasterspektakel July 13rd - 15th 1989

The third Linz Pflasterspektakel broke yet another record: 291 performers from 13 countries presented their acts. Because there were more applications than performance possibilities it was necessary for the first time to make a selection.

The Berlin Wall was still in place at the time, the so-called Eastern bloc still existed, and many representatives of the region’s culture were present in Linz to take part in the festival. The Oberösterreichische Nachrichten wrote, “The Linz Pflasterspektakel is becoming an east-west divan – applications have been received from Hungary and the GDR as well.” Between the Hauptplatz and Langgasse there were 20 locations which could be used by each group or solo performer for two hours between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. After these two hours, the performers changed over.

In the festival headquarters, which was now in the college of art on the Hauptplatz, a large board was put up showing the program for each day. In the previous years the trams had experienced great difficulty finding a way through the crowds of enthusiastic spectators, so this year a replacement bus service was introduced in the evenings of Friday and Saturday.

And not only that:
On the Hauptplatz there was a little circus presenting acts with wild animals and the Scottish performer Jenny Brent had to be taken to hospital after an accident during her fire-eating show.

 

Pflasterspektakel July 20th - 23rd 1988

“We must do this again.” That was the general consensus following the “International Street Musicians’ Days” in 1987. No one could now do without the carefree atmosphere and the unconventional performances in Linz city center. The team at the cultural affairs department under cultural manager Siegbert Janko and Harald Wildfellner immediately began working on a follow-up, naming the festival of street art the “Linz Pflasterspektakel”.

This year the number of performers already reached the 200 mark, and besides music there were mime, conjuring tricks and acrobatics to enjoy. Unlike the previous year the spectacle was not spread all over the city but concentrated on Landstraße. The street entertainers from England, West Germany, the GDR, Italy, France, Yugoslavia, the USA and Austria presented their talents to the enthusiastic people of Linz from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The first years of a festival are always years of experimentation and testing: in 1988 the festival was brought to a close with a gala performance on a stage on the Hauptplatz. However, the artistes that took part were not altogether happy with the idea, because it made a stage performance the center of attention, which is the exact opposite of street entertainment. Street entertainers do not perform in the street because they cannot get a stage, but because they do not want a stage. Street art is precisely what the cultural affairs office in Linz had wanted, namely art for everybody!

And not only that:
In 1988 the Pflasterspektakel festival of street art had to contend with “competition” from other “street artists”: building work on the underground garage on the Hauptplatz was in the finishing stages and the entire square now had to be resurfaced. The entertainers had been warned beforehand that they would be sharing their “stage” with workmen and took the unwelcome rivalry with a sense of humor.


 

Pflasterspektakel July 16th - 19th 1987

In 1987 the stage – or rather the street – was set: 150 musicians, the majority from Austria and Germany, but also from France, England and the USA, responded to the invitation to the “International Street Musicians’ Days” and applied to take part. All of them were accepted.

From the Hauptplatz to Schillerplatz, in front of the new city hall, by shopping centers, in restaurants and bars and at the bathing lakes the people of Linz were surprised by music that ranged from classical to jazz, country and folk. The 30 strong samba group from Munich, the “Münchner Ruhestörer”, proved to be a particularly popular attraction and provided a taste of the Brazilian and Caribbean flair that was to come in the ensuing years and which was to culminate in frenzied samba processions.

The event took place in glorious sunshine and ended with an impromptu party: all the musicians, together with the organizers, plunged into the cool water of the Parkbad swimming pool. And it is highly unlikely that any one of them thought at that time that they had just invented Europe’s biggest festival of street entertainment.