Irene Suchy is one of Austria’s most renowned professionals in the fields of music and culture, from both historical and contemporary perspectives. She is an editor with Ö1, a lecturer at a number of universities (among them Kunstuni Graz, KFU Graz, Mozarteum Salzburg and University of Vienna), an exhibition curator, as well as dramaturg, librettist, and writer. Suchy’s approach combines journalism with research and always focuses on the relationship between art and power structures. Gender equality is a recurring theme in her work. She is director of the association maezenantentum.at – Forschungstransfer in Wissenschaft und Kunst , the principal project partner of the EU-funded project MusicaFemina – women-made Music. With her association and the EU project, Irene Suchy has been SmartAdmin user since 2018. We met her for coffee.
Smart: The spectrum of your work is so diverse that it is hard to put in a nutshell. How would you describe your professional profile?
Irene Suchy: I would say that my profile is pretty up-to-date – I’m not in a position of power, but I try to use institutions such as the Austrian public broadcasting ORF or the universities as platforms to address historical and contemporary inequalities in cultural life. Like, for example, the structural sexism ingrained in our musical heritage. After all, I see gender equality as the basic tool to tackle such global challenges as the climate crisis or issues of food inequality. According to my experience, journalism contributes a lot of drive to these struggles, academia not so much. Academia must still make a lot of progress in terms of gender equality.
You are currently heading the project MusicaFemina, which is funded in the framework of Creative Europe – Kultur. What is the theme and scope of this project?
MusicaFemina collaborates with partners from Slovenia, Hungary and Germany to spotlight female composers from the past and present, from Fanny Hensel to Elfriede Jelinek, from Hildegard von Bingen to Olga Neuwirth. We’ve created an extensive exhibition, accompanied by a series of high-quality live performances.
Our artistic research team comprises stage and costume designer Clarisse Maylunas, graphic designer Aleka Zichy, as well as PR expert Wolfgang Rauscher. I contribute my radio experience for the digital content. For the videos, we collaborate with filmmakers, mainly Su Luschin from Okto TV.
With our creations, we make those substantial female contributions to music visible and audible that have been woefully neglected for way too long. We’re especially proud of all the genres we cover: film music, electronic music, improvisation on many levels, but also opera. This diversity is unique. Until now, the exhibition has been on display in Schloss Schönbrunn in Vienna (2018) and in Bildraum Bodensee (2020). For January and March 2020 we are planning two congresses.
You’re a SmartAdmin user with this project. How is the cooperation with the coop going?
Our SmartAdmin advisor Angela Vadori substantially supports us in financial planning, book keeping and accounting, which is a great relief for our work. The EU guidlines for financial audits are very strict, but with Smart, we’re able to correctly prepare all the necessary documents. SmartAdmin allows us to gain a good overview of our budget planning. With this knowledge, I could start the next EU project from a better position.
Freelancers often struggle with financing, social security or taxes. How do you perceive the working conditions in your professional environment?
Partly, there’s simply a lack of administrative skills. I have seen invoices without a number, without bank details and even without the amount due. I think that we as culture professionals should upgrade our skills here. We should definitely learn how to plan according to our needs – oftentimes, we’re so enthusiastic that we overlook the issue of money. This is also a point where support in accounting, such as SmartAdmin provides, can help a lot. Just recently, I met someone with a lot of merits, doing great projects, but who, de facto, lives on a minimum pension and can’t afford such basic things as dental work. I don’t think it should be like this. You can’t take it with you, but a comfortable life should be possible, and that’s including dining out or repairing the boiler. To achieve this, we should know our own value – and how to claim it.
Interview & text: Xenia Kopf