Cheers for Fears

What is Cheers for Fears?

An initiative, a network, a mobile academy

With CHEERS FOR FEARS, an initiative was launched in 2013 whose goal is to intensify the exchange between the young artists of NRW and their academies and to stimulate artistic collaborations. The founding impulse of the initiative resulted from the desire to exchange work strategies, aesthetics and perspectives across universities and disciplines.

Since then, this concern has been pursued on a regular basis: Young artists and art students from the fields of stage design, design, singing, instrumental music, composition, media art, film, physical theater, directing, scenic research, scenography, dance and dance education, as well as dance and theater studies, meet regularly to discuss their work and the status of their work and to debate the study and working conditions in the arts with changing guests. After many editions of Cheers for Fears on Tour, we rely on formats such as CheersCamp, where all participants contribute their specialised knowledge, or our Traumformate, which enable interested students to turn their own event ideas into reality with the support of CHEERS FOR FEARS. Furthermore, we always invite you to join us at events such as the Skulpturprojekte Münster or the Rundgang of the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne and to talk to the artists involved.

In addition to regular discussions, workshops and studio visits, a Cheers for Fears festival or academy has been held annually since 2014 with changing partners such as Ringlokschuppen Ruhr, Theater Oberhausen, FFT Düsseldorf, IMPULSE Festival or TanzFaktur Köln. The focus of the festivals lies on the presentation and feedback of artistic works – in addition, we explore a pressing question in workshops with invited guests and in discussion formats. In 2014, for example, we asked what experimental free spaces exist at universities beyond the curricula; the following year, we were concerned with the role of music in works of the performing and visual arts; in 2016, we wanted to know what forms of performance play a role in theater training at NRW art academies; at the 2017 Cheers Festival, we were interested in the status and understanding of political “art between reflection and action”; and in 2018, under the motto “Organize yourselves! Working (together) in the Arts” we devoted ourselves to questions of collective creation. In 2019, as part of the Impulse Theater Festival, we invited young artists* and theater makers to explore the fine line between empowerment and self-optimization in theater and the arts. 2020 we invited to the Academy for Theater and Digitalization at Theater Dortmund under the title “Staging Complexity. A Lab on Culture and Theater in the Digital Age” to the Academy for Theater and Digitization at Theater Dortmund. In 2022 students, professors, young artists and their audience met in the frame of the Cheers for Fears Festival at tanzhaus nrw. Under the motto of interdisciplinary exchange and teaching in the arts met installative, cinematic, scenic, dance as well as musical formats came together. In addition, the Panel discussion “Together for the Theater of Tomorrow – Training in the Performing Arts” was held.

Beyond solidary exchange, Cheers for Fears also repeatedly encourages interdisciplinary artistic collaboration. In co-production with the NRW Landesbüro Freie Darstellende Künste, we were able to initiate three theater productions by young artists from various universities in 2014, which were presented at the theater festival Favoriten. At Favoriten 2016 we then realized the summer academy “Another Living Theatre”, which dealt with traditions of political art and political interventions and culminated in a performance in Dortmund’s urban space. In cooperation with the literary initiative Land in Sicht, we explore the scenic potential of texts by young authors from German-speaking countries once a year at the Auftakt Festival für szenische Texte together with theater professionals from the Cheers community. In addition, in 2018 we relaunched the idea of a production platform with Cheers for Fears Transit – bringing together young artists* and students at the end of their training to produce a first major work together. In 2021, Transit went back to the drawing board to encourage artistic teams across disciplines to come up with their own unique creations.

In October 2015, the initiative set up a coordination office at the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr, which serves as a space for coordinating the initiative’s work, shall be used as a meeting place for students, and will facilitate the announcement of requests and calls. Your contact persons there are the initiative coordinators Jascha Sommer and Sina Schneller. The Contact and Coordination Office in the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr will not be staffed in August ’22; as of September, it will be open again on Mondays and Tuesdays from 11 am to 6 pm.

The CHEERS FOR FEARS initiative is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Kunststiftung NRW. Strong partners include the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr, the NRW Landesbüro Freie Darstellende Künste, the NRW Kultursekretariat, the FFT Düsseldorf and the Theater Dortmund. At the academy level, we have particular ties to the Folkwang University of the Arts, the Academy of Media Arts and the Ruhr University Bochum.

The Team

Jascha Sommer

In 2013 I founded the initiative Cheers for Fears together with Johanna-Yasirra Kluhs and with the support of the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr out of the ambition to contribute to the networking of the scenic arts courses in NRW and to broaden the horizons of the students beyond their respective universities in continuous as well as selective actions.

I studied Theater Studies and Scenic Research in Bochum and Paris, and Media Arts at the Academy of Media Arts. Through my studies as well as my own artistic work I am familiar with the young theater and art scene of NRW and continuously think about collaborations of young artists with students and teachers of the universities and theater houses.

Portrait Sina-Marie Schneller

Sina-Marie Schneller

Cheers for Fears already influenced me during my studies of theater and literature in Bochum. As a motor and forum, Cheers for Fears has promoted my broad and unbiased view of the young scene of artists in NRW and also personal contacts.
In 2015 I started as production manager of the Cheers for Fears Festivals at Theater Oberhausen and since then I have continued to work for the networking of the young art scene in NRW. In 2022 and 2024 I also co-direct the FAVORITEN Festival.


Cheers for Fears Office

Mo–Tu / 11–18
c/o Ringlokschuppen Ruhr
Am Schloß Broich 38
45479 Mülheim an der Ruhr
Tel.: 0208 9931678

Portrait Mona Sachße

Mona Sachße

Since the beginning of 2022 I have been working as a project manager at Cheers for Fears, and in spring 2023 I took over the online editorial office. I was responsible for the Cheers for Fears Festival 2022 Festival 2022 as well as the lab “Art & Coding” and the “Traumformate” at the beginning of 2023. I am happy to be part of an initiative that aims to bring artists together and create fear-sensitive spaces. I studied cultural studies and aesthetic practice at the University of Hildesheim and have been living in Cologne for some time now, where I am studying for a Master’s degree in Intermedia. My artistic-research interest is in the stagings of femininity myths and queer beings. For some time now I have been working artistically with voice, sound and their morphing on my own and in various collaborations.

Josefine Luka Simonsen

I have been a project manager at Cheers for Fears since September 2022. During my studies at the Center for Contemporary Dance at the HfMT Cologne, I got to know the Cheers for Fears initiative as an important platform for artistic and interdisciplinary exchange. Now I am very happy to be part of this initiative myself. By continuing to work on formats and possibilities and by creating meeting spaces and visibility for young artists, it is possible to help shape the cultural landscape of NRW. The practical exchange of questions and knowledge also occupies me in my own dance and performative works.


Press commentaries

Zusammen mit der Initiative Cheers for Fears veranstaltete die Akademie für Theater und Digitalität das Symposium Staging Complexity. Kunst und Theater im digitalen Zeitalter.

Das Symposium war eine sehr politische Veranstaltung. Es versammelte wichtige Gedanken und Fragen, mit denen sich Kunst- und Theaterschaffende heute beschäftigen und stellte Verbindungen zwischen der aktuellen Situation und historischen Bezügen her. Es zeigte, dass Digitalität und Theater sehr interessante Wechselwirkungen haben.

Deutschlandfunk Kultur im Gespräch mit Stefan Keim

"Erfolgreich und etwas größenwahnsinnig."

Die Netzwerkgründer von Cheers for Fears entwerfen in ihrem Labor neue Formen künstlerischer Zusammenarbeit.

Jeder kann irgendetwas besonders gut, jeder lernt etwas vom anderen – das ist die ­ambitionierte wie mutige These, die der Entwicklung von originellen und vielfältigen Formaten voransteht. […] Das Netzwerk wächst beständig und entwickelt sich entlang der eigenen Ziele ­weiter. Dabei fräst sich Cheers for Fears nicht nur in institutionelle Hochburgen der Kultur- und Wissenschaftslandschaft, sondern ­bricht auch verkrustete Gefüge der freien Szene lustvoll auf. Es bleibt gespannt abzuwarten, mit welchen neuen Fragen und Konstellationen Cheers for Fears aufwarten werden.

Theater der Zeit

„Warten auf die große Kunstparty“

Staging Complexity – Die Initiative Cheers for Fears veranstaltet ihr Symposium zu “Kunst und Theater im digitalen Zeitalter” online

Eigentlich sollte das von “Cheers for Fears” veranstaltete Symposium im Theater Dortmund stattfinden. Doch in Zeiten von Corona war das alles keine Option mehr. Wären die Umstände andere, könnte man beinahe von einer passenden Fügung sprechen. […] In der Videochat-Situation wird alles zur Inszenierung, die Bilder und Bücher im Hintergrund ebenso wie Gesten und Körperhaltungen der Sprechenden. Das Online-Publikum stellt automatisch, fast schon unbewusst, Bezüge her, analysiert und interpretiert. […] So hat dieses Online-Symposium etwas zum Vorschein gebracht, was im Theater nicht zum Tragen gekommen wäre. Es hat den digitalen Raum als riesige Bühne kenntlich gemacht.

"Ein gewaltiges kuratorisches Projekt"

Es ging darum, nicht nur mit den Kommilitonen, sondern auch den Studenten von Folkwang, der Kunsthochschule für Medien in Köln oder den Bühnenbildklassen in Düsseldorf ins Gespräch zu kommen. Zusammen mit dem Ringlokschuppen Ruhr entwarf Jascha Sommer die Begegnungsplattform „Cheers for Fears“, die kleine Produktionsstipendien ausschreibt, Dialogformate auflegt oder Arbeiten der Studierenden zur internen Diskussion stellt. Ein gewaltiges kuratorisches Projekt, das inzwischen sogar eine gewisse Nachhaltigkeit erreicht hat.

Die Deutsche Bühne