"Empathy and self-reflection - a bit of humour can't hurt either."

About empathy, self-reflection and a bit of humour - Hanna Hellenbroich-Schrader (Human Resources Management actori) in conversation with Dr Sebastian Lücke about his work at actori.


Dear Sebastian, nice to have you with me today in our staff interview.
Thank you very much, dear Hanna, I am very pleased. It's a nice opportunity to reflect on your own professional development.

That's the keyword - you came to actori in 2020, so tell us a bit about your start with us. How did you hear about us and how did you perceive the beginnings?
I first heard about actori in 2013 - a fellow student at the time told me enthusiastically about the internship she had done here. Since then, my curiosity about cultural consulting has always accompanied me a bit and after my doctorate in philosophy, I wanted to know more. I sent out my application and today I can say that it was the right decision. At the beginning it was challenging to adjust to the fast-paced everyday life of consulting, because in philosophy the clocks went differently. However, I immediately felt at home at actori, thanks to the team and also the constructive cooperation with our clients. Individuality is valued here, you notice that quickly; at the same time, you have a lot in common, especially, of course, the enthusiasm for culture. One notices very quickly how important language and its use are to you. I still remember how one of our two managing directors enthusiastically reported on your first appearance with a client because you expressed yourself very eloquently.
I was very pleased with that praise! Language fascinates me because it makes so many things possible. Philosophically, you could say: we paint pictures with language, dissect questions and concepts and can use them to build bridges to other worlds of thought. But it has to be said that communication, which brings people together and creates trust, requires even more. There is empathy and self-reflection - a bit of humour can't hurt either (laughs).

At actori you quickly became enthusiastic about projects in which communication plays a role in the form of workshops, participation and text design. I'm thinking, for example, of the recently published Masterplan Kultur Hessen or the participatory project in Nuremberg. I can imagine that it is enriching to be able to apply your personal interests in a professionally profitable way. How did you discover and finally conquer this field for yourself?
Basically, I find the whole range of our projects exciting, even the number-heavy ones, which I still enjoy doing today. At the same time, in the last few years I have worked on projects that increasingly include event conception and moderation. And that excites me. In my role as moderator, I can support cultural actors from very different backgrounds in developing something common out of the many exciting ideas that each individual brings to the table. At the same time, I learn a lot from them. That's why I'm happy to take on responsibility for the topic of participation at actori.

What do you mean by a participation project? Is there a typical procedure?
Participation can be used in many ways, e.g. in the development of cultural policy strategies, in the field of cultural real estate and urban development, but also in strategy and organisational projects. Essentially, it is about involving stakeholders in finding solutions to complex issues. The procedure follows a flexible logic: first you have to understand the questions to be clarified and their framework conditions. Then you identify a suitable format (e.g. conference, workshop, meeting) and the right participants. This is followed by detailed planning, i.e. a detailed schedule including suitable working methods. When everything fits and has been agreed with the client, the event is held. Our main task is moderation, which aims to support the participants by structuring the event in a friendly, approachable and neutral way. We structure the results and then prepare them for the client or participants.

Not only do you enjoy talking to clients in actori projects, you are also currently responsible for scheduling our interns and giving lectures at universities, for example in Nuremberg or Mannheim. What message is important to you when you speak to students who are hoping for impulses for their professional careers from you?
You should inform yourself well about career perspectives, be open and use your studies to try out something unusual. Ideally, you should think about what you want in advance. Otherwise, all you can do is what others do or say. That doesn't have to be the wrong thing, but it can be. And, that work in culture can be something very fulfilling, I might have mentioned occasionally in lectures. (laughs)

If you work for actori, you have a cultural affinity. And I remember you talking about your new piano some time ago.
What do you particularly like to play?
Playing the piano has accompanied me since childhood and has never let me go. I particularly enjoy playing music from the Romantic period, for example by Weber, Schumann or Rachmaninoff. For some years now I have also been writing music myself, but of course I am still miles away from the great composers. I'm grateful to my neighbours - they put up with it all with patience and sometimes they even give me a little compliment.

Dear Sebastian, thank you very much for the interview, I really hope we can hear a sample of you on the piano.
With pleasure. A piano concert in the social room of the office, I would love that!