What We Do
The Max Brauer Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, has been awarded to personalities and institutions of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg since 1993. It encourages actors who shape the cultural, scientific or intellectual life of Hamburg with their commitment. It is dedicated to the memory of Max Brauer, the last Lord Mayor of Altona before 1933 and First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg after 1946.
An independent board of trustees decides on the award. An application is not possible.
- Prize curatorship
An independent board of trustees decides annually on the awarding of the award. The following personalities are currently members of this board:
Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees:
Sabine Rossbach, Director of NDR Landesfunkhaus Hamburg
Members of the Board of Trustees:
Dr. Linde Apel, Director of the Workshop of Remembrance, Research Center for Contemporary History
Dr. Jens Jeep, Notary, Ottensen Notary's Office
Cord Sürie, Director, Hauck Aufhäuser Lampe Privatbank AG
Dr. Lea T. Tezcan-Götz, Government Director, Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg
Michael Wendt, Managing Director, MOTTE District and Cultural Center
Max Brauer Award Winner 2022:
Augen Blicke Afrika e.V.
Since 2012, the initiative Augen Blicke Afrika e.V. has enriched Hamburg's cultural offerings by opening up new perspectives on Africa. With the African Film Festival in Hamburg, the association offers a differentiated and unbiased picture of life, culture and politics on a continent that many in this country see primarily as an economic, political or ecological problem. In this way, the association manages to counter this image with a diverse view and to arouse curiosity. Now, with the Max Brauer Award of the Alfred Toepfer Foundation F.V.S., the association is encouraged to continue its tireless voluntary work.
Through a sophisticated, interactive supporting program, the film festival succeeds in making complex topics such as economics, culture, politics and education accessible in an entertaining and vivid way. Thus, different thematic focuses are set each year, such as colonial heritage, everyday life in African societies or the production conditions of films. With a large number of invited directors from different countries, the festival provides a platform for discussion and exchange with the audience that is unique in Hamburg. This commitment, which the volunteer-organized association tirelessly promotes with passion and openness, enriches the cosmopolitan film city of Hamburg and deserves recognition and encouragement in its continuity.
This year, the Max Brauer Award ceremony will be split into two parts, unlike in previous years. Thus, the honorary team of the association was officially presented with the Max Brauer Award on Saturday, October 8, as part of the closing ceremony of the Filmfest Hamburg. The award ceremony with a festive ceremony will take place on November 15, 2022 at 6:00 pm at the premises of Afrotopia. Participation is only possible with prior registration. The award will be presented at the ceremony by Jana Schiedek, State Councillor of the Department of Culture and Media.
This year's African Film Festival will take place from November 3-13, 2022 at the Studio-Kino Hamburg. An exciting selection of feature films, documentaries and short films from more than 20 African countries has been announced. The themes of most of the films reflect difficult life situations of the people, the uphill struggle to get out of a predicament that is often socially or economically caused. With top-class guests and connoisseurs of African film, the choice of themes, the way of making and the production conditions of African films will be examined.
The award winners of the past five years
- Award winner 2020: Compagnia dell’Argine
Max-Brauer award ceremony 2020 ©K. Haarmann
The Max Brauer Prize usually honors Hamburg personalities or institutions that enrich the cultural, scientific and intellectual life of Hamburg. In 2020, the Prize Board of Trustees, in consultation with the Toepfer Foundation's committees, decided to award the prize once and as a special gesture to an Italian cultural institution, in order to set a small but nevertheless visible sign of European solidarity.
The prize winner was the independent theater company Compagnia dell'Argine and its Teatro ITC in San Lazzaro. The town is located in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, which was severely affected by the Corona pandemic in 2020. The pandemic was also a disaster for the company, as all activities - theater season, touring of performances, workshops in and out of schools - were suspended.
The extraordinary socio-cultural commitment of the Compagnia deserves equally extraordinary recognition. By opening meeting and playing spaces for people who otherwise find it difficult to access theater, music and dance, the Compagnia not only acts as a cultural mediator, it also strengthens the common good and social cohesion.
In its work, the Compagnia dell'Argine introduces people from diverse backgrounds to the explorative, unfolding and unifying potential of drama. Whether on the road with the TEATROBUS or at home in their Teatro ITC, in schools or prisons, whether people with disabilities or with refugee experience: the group under the artistic direction of Micaela Casalboni, Nicola Bonazzi and Andrea Paolucci overcomes barriers and builds bridges. With courage, imagination and expertise, the Compagnia has developed into a valuable cultural institution for Bologna, for Italy and for Europe since its founding in 1994.
Teatro dell'Argine ©Luciano Paselli
- Award winner 2019: ensemble reflektor
Max-Brauer award ceremony 2019
The Hamburg-based ensemble reflektor was founded in 2015 by 40 young professional musicians and friends with the aim of creating classical concerts together that convey a passion for music while also inspiring audiences far removed from classical music.
The result is an extraordinary chamber orchestra whose ambitious aspirations go beyond a perfectly played concert. The ensemble reflektor sees itself as an ambassador of a music culture without borders and as an orchestra that operates beyond a well-worn classical music business: self-governing and independent, ensemble reflektor offers space for co-determination and the realization of its own ideas. The musicians develop concerts for all people - children, refugees, newcomers to classical concerts and connoisseurs who take their Beethoven score with them. Music education workshops are as self-evident a part of the programs as sharing a drink with the audience after the concert. An important mentor and regular conductor is Thomas Klug, a founding member and former concertmaster of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen.
Max-Brauer award ceremony 2019
Engagements brought the ensemble to the Konzerthaus Berlin and the ZKM Karlsruhe in 2018, among others, followed by the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the Sommerliche Musiktage Hitzacker in 2019. In January, the debut CD "Gewaltakt" was released, which deals with Beethoven's 5th Symphony and was enthusiastically reviewed on NDR Kultur, HR 2 Kultur and WDR. In spring 2020, the orchestra plans to record Beethoven's 8th Symphony. In October 2019, the orchestra will establish its first festival of its own: ultraBACH.
On September 22, 2019, ensemble reflektor was awarded the Max Brauer Prize at Kampnagel.
- Award winner 2018: Lesbian Gay Film Days Hamburg
Max-Brauer award ceremony 2018
With 15,000 visitors, the Lesbisch Schwulen Filmtage Hamburg | International Queer Film Festival is the largest and oldest queer film festival in Germany. Originating in 1989 as part of a film seminar at the University of Hamburg on the then barely explored topic of "Homosexuality in Film", they are organized by a self-managed and primarily volunteer collective. Countless helpers support the Filmtage team throughout the year in the preparation and during the festival week.
As an important public expression of the LGBTIQ community in Hamburg, the Film Days increase the visibility of homosexual and bisexual lifestyles, trans identities and intersexuality. The desire to present the most diverse and current international film productions possible goes hand in hand with the festival organizers' aspiration to provide a forum for socially engaged, discussion-worthy and sophisticated film culture. The resulting mix makes the Film Days an event that is important not only for the community, but for all those interested in film and culture.
In a cooperation with the municipal cinema Metropolis, the first Lesbisch Schwulen Filmtage Hamburg (Lesbian Gay Film Days Hamburg) came into being in the summer of 1990 as an event of the Kinemathek Hamburg. Because the Lesbisch Schwulen Filmtage Hamburg steadily gained attention, the non-profit association Querbild e.V. was founded in 1995. Since then, it has been the organizer and sponsor of the Filmtage.
On September 2, 2018, the Lesbisch Schwulen Filmtage Hamburg was awarded the Max Brauer Prize of the Alfred Toepfer Foundation F.V.S.. The award ceremony took place at the St. Pauli Theater.
- Award winner 2017: LOLA and Kultur Palast
A lively urban culture is characterized by diversity, friction and contrasts. Hamburg may be associated nationally with the Elbphilharmonie, the musicals, the Thalia and the Schauspielhaus - but cultural life is not only made possible in the urban center, but also in the periphery. Two district cultural centers in Hamburg's east, which have been doing invaluable creative work for their surroundings and beyond for decades, are honored with the Max Brauer Award.
The LOLA cultural center represents the creative diversity and openness that a district cultural center can have at its best. Housed in the former police station in the Lohbrügge district, LOLA has become the best-known cultural provider in Bergedorf and the surrounding area since it was founded in 1992. The management around Ortrud Schwirz addresses existing as well as new user groups with diverse offers from culture, education and leisure. The program includes everything from concerts and exhibitions to courses, projects, workshops and discussions. Well-known artists present themselves to the public, as do up-and-coming groups, who are given a platform for their performances. Not only adults find offers from mainstream to niche, also children have numerous possibilities to learn, play, sing or dance. With the establishment of the KIKU (Kinderkulturhaus Lohbrügge) in 2011, LOLA has once again professionalized itself in the area of (inter)cultural education and cooperates intensively with surrounding schools in the area of cultural and media projects as well as additive language support. For 25 years now, LOLA has been doing invaluable cultural and social work for the district and is a meeting place, platform and 'home port' for numerous initiatives, groups and residents.
The Kultur Palast Hamburg Foundation has been committed to cultural participation and the promotion of young talent at its location in Billstedt and throughout Hamburg for 37 years. It develops clever and new qualification opportunities for an international urban society and ensures sustainable promotion of young talent. This is done particularly successfully through the two projects "Klangstrolche" and "HipHop Academy Hamburg" - two lighthouse projects for the whole of Hamburg. Here, support is provided as early as possible, regardless of social background. The focus is on strengthening self-esteem and developing individual talents. With its offerings, the Kultur Palast today supports more than 3,500 children and young people and reaches around 220,000 visitors a year. In 2017, the new building with theater, daycare center and dance studios was opened and is now also the venue for the award ceremony. The dedicated Kultur Palast team, led by Dörte Inselmann, not only ensures cultural and social work in the district, but also offers a meeting place in Billstedt that is accepted by a wide variety of user groups. Education and culture from and for the district have found a home here, based on trust, respect and a great deal of commitment.
- Award winner 2016: The midnight bus
Max-Brauer award ceremony 2016
For 20 years, the Midnight Bus has been driving through Hamburg's city center every evening to provide homeless people with coffee, tea, sandwiches and, in winter, blankets and warm clothing. A team of 140 volunteers, organized in fixed groups of four, meets every evening to provide this form of care. For the guests on the bus, it often means the only meal of the day, often a brief encounter, a conversation and always the sign: Not everyone looks the other way when it comes to the obvious issue of homelessness.
An estimated 2,000 homeless people live on the streets of Hamburg. Since 1996, the Diakonie's midnight bus, with a team of more than a hundred volunteers organized in fixed groups of four, has been driving in the evenings from 8 p.m. to midnight to the sleeping places of homeless people in downtown Hamburg, the so-called Platten. On board are hot drinks, sandwiches, sleeping mats and blankets.
In addition to these basic supplies, the main aim is to make contact with and give attention to people who live in public but with whom hardly anyone speaks. The volunteers listen to them, share their fate and are thus a small ray of hope in the everyday life of the homeless guests. Up to 180 people are reached on each tour.
The lifeline of the midnight bus is the volunteers. About 140 people are currently involved in the team; their ages range from early 20s to mid-70s, and their professional backgrounds are also diverse. The project is coordinated by two full-time project managers.
The midnight bus
The work on the bus is supplemented by the Diakonie Center for the homeless. There you will find hot food, showers, a postal address, medical care and social counseling. This interconnected system makes the help comprehensive and sustainable. The midnight bus is financed one hundred percent by donations. Many private donors help, but also Hamburg companies, church congregations, foundations and initiatives.
On September 7, 2016, the Midnight Bus was awarded the Max Brauer Prize at FARBIK Hamburg.
- Award winner 2015: THEATER ON THE RIVER
Max-Brauer award ceremony 2015
The independent group THEATER AM STROM uses the lively, immediate creative possibilities of theater to tell stories about special realities of life in Hamburg. These are stories that are still anchored in the minds and hearts of the audience, often after many years. The founders of the theater project are the author and director Christiane Richers and the actresses Gesche Groth and Morena Bartel.
"We are very pleased to receive the Max Brauer Award. It shows that even a small form of artistic collaboration, which is largely borne by the willingness to take risks on the part of all those involved, is publicly noticed and appreciated in the city. It motivates us to continue to enter into dialogue with the unfamiliar, be it with the history of Roma refugees from so-called safe third countries, be it by thinking together about a meaningful, urgent change in the relationship between art, life and school," says Christiane Richers.
THEATER AM STROM operates alert, closely observant theater. In doing so, the artists look especially at people and conditions in the city that are usually overlooked. The theater performance "Immer Weiter" ("Always On") for children aged 8 and up is based on research among Hamburg's homeless women. With the last large-scale Wilhelmsburg production under the title "Im Herzen Von Hamburg" (In the Heart of Hamburg), a total of 75 people of all ages turned their attention to the history of Hamburg's Sinti, without falling into romanticizing or judgmental traps.
Close observation, empathy and interest in usually little-noticed people and groups in the city lead to quiet and lively theatrical stories and theatrical spectacles. In the best case, these become part of Hamburg's collective memory. The art of THEATER AM STROM is further demonstrated in its affectionate treatment of the smallest theatergoers: poetic, always idiosyncratically musical productions for children, who often have their first theater experience here, are regularly invited to participate in renowned play series in other German states. The long-standing cooperation with the Bücherhallen Hamburg has brought theater and books to children in all parts of the city in the form of staged readings.
"THEATER AM STROM" is a free theater formation that courageously and purposefully takes up socio-political topics and conveys them professionally - for the very young as well as for the grown-ups. The makers of the project are significantly and trend-settingly engaged, locally as well as nationally, in the structure-building work of the independent theater scene and continuously engage in networking to strengthen the work of the independent scene." Michael Wendt, member of the Max Brauer Award Board, explains the choice.
On September 16, 2015, THEATER AM STROM was awarded the Max Brauer Prize at the Hafenmuseum Hamburg.