re:publica in digital exile in May—class reunion postponed to August 2020

As Summer As Possible

Since last year, we have been working with a highly motivated team to bring the next, even better, even more beautiful re:publica on stage in May. Our goal each year is to create a unique place for a couple of days in spring, where a large number of people feel welcome, network with each other, discuss ideas and, thanks to our extensive programme, continue to learn. We always set out to create the conference and festival that we ourselves would like to attend.

We were and are prepared for a great deal of circumstances. We are used to adapting flexibly to new situations and like to improvise and create something new together. But with a heavy heart we now have to give up the goal of re:publica in May and set ourselves new targets. The spread of the coronavirus and the global pandemic are forcing us to do so.

We do not want to rely on the argument that all participants come at their own responsibility and can assess their personal risk. Governmental regulations thus far are only in place until April 19, 2020. There are many unsolved liability questions for a small and independent organiser like us.

In the current situation we have come to the conclusion: As an organiser we have a social responsibility for each and every one of you. We must work together in solidarity to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We want to live up to this responsibility. #FlatteningTheCurve

As Safe as Possible

In the past weeks we have made great efforts to prepare ourselves to host the healthiest and most hygienic re:publica ever. Nevertheless, we are currently unable to assess whether these measures would prevent a risk of infection.

We will take this accumulated knowledge into account when implementing future re:publica conferences.

re:publica is a place where many people come together who often only see each other in real life once a year. Which is why there is an even greater urge to hug and cuddle each other. In this environment it is simply not realistic to keep a safe distance—also because nobody really wants to.

We are aware that many of you have with great anticipation already invested in travel tickets and hotel accommodation—an investment which for some really hurts. That many of you have already taken holidays especially for re:publica. Many planned speakers have for quite some time already enthusiastically prepared their workshops, lectures and presentations. Many partners have already drafted ideas and concepts with us.

Unfortunately, we feel the same way.

All of a sudden, an entire ecosystem around us—which we could built upon for every re:publica - is in danger. We are particularly worried about the many individual fates of people who have put their heart and time into the conference preparation and may now face financial problems. These are especially the many freelancers and service providers, many of whom have become our friends. They build our Wi-Fi, stream our videos, work as part of the team, help organise the production on location, take photos and create our design, build the stages and partner booths and provide catering.

We do not want to leave them alone in this situation.

We are aware that many questions are still unanswered. We kindly ask for your understanding that we have not yet found an answer to everything. As far as coronavirus is concerned we - like so many of us these days - are trying to keep abreast of the developments, and every day changes the situation. This in particular has made us a little helpless and muted our external communication in the last few days. We have been confronted with a multitude of new questions.

516 hours programme

We know that this measure also is a disappointment for our wonderful team. Our programme team has never been this fast. We currently have about 540 sessions in the system and many still in the queue. We have already conceptualized 516 hours of programme on twenty parallel stages. As always, our goal was and is to map numerous current and upcoming debates about the web and the here and now of society. In theory, we have succeeded in doing this, at least in preparation. The proportion of our female speakers* is currently over 50%. We have commitments from speakers* from 51 countries.

As summer as possible

Our great team will not give up that easily! We have a plan: We would like to postpone the #rp20 to August 10-12, 2020. More details will be announced shortly.

At the planned date in May we are thinking about a virtual re:publica. And in this thinking process we are asking for your help, your ideas, your support—for a "re:publica in digital exile".

We therefore want to ask for your opinion:

What can a decentralised digital re:publica (as an improvised exception) look like this year?

How can we nonetheless create a special re:publica atmosphere on the planned days in May, where many different communities come together to discuss and debate our common future? What tools exist for this, which of them respect the privacy and digital sovereignty of all interested parties? #rp20

We would like to thank all of you who have supported us this far, who have taken part in the Call for Participation or who are cooperating with us as partners.

We are grateful for your support and ask for your continued understanding. You will hear more from us in the coming days.

P.S.: The tickets for #rp20 remain valid until further notice. A refund with no fees is possible until March 31st, 2020.