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University of Bayreuth, Press Release No. 006/2021, 18 January 2021

“Vereinsfinder Fichtelgebirge” successful in the “Land.Voraus!” competition

The “Vereinsfinder Fichtelgebirge” (Fichtelgebirge Club-Finder) is one of the twelve winners of the “Land.Voraus!” (Land.Ahead!) competition. This award, given by the “Netz der Regionen” (Network of the Regions), goes to projects that contribute to maintaining rural regions in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as attractive places to live. The partners are the University of Bayreuth, the districts of Wunsiedel and Bayreuth, and the artists’ network “Künstlerkolonie Fichtelgebirge e.V.” (KÜKO). The platform “Vereinsfinder Fichtelgebirge” is funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture as part of its “Landkultur” (Country Culture) programme.

“Our team is very pleased that “Vereinsfinder Fichtelgebirge” was one of the twelve winning projects – after all, over 300 projects from Austria, Switzerland, and Germany were in the running for the “Land.Voraus!” competition”, explains Dr. Thomas Dörfler from the Social Geography research group. The scientist supervises and coordinates “Vereinsfinder Fichtelgebirge” on behalf of the University of Bayreuth. The award from “Netz der Regionen” goes to projects that seek to preserve rural regions as attractive places to live. In addition to € 500 in prize money, each winning project will have its page on the 2021 annual competition calendar. The calendar is sent out in the “Land.Voraus!” ideas package to over 520 counties, districts, and cantons to publicise interesting ideas, plans, and projects in rural development.

Idea and aim of “Vereinsfinder Fichtelgebirge”

In rural areas, clubs are often the most important factor in cultural and community life. But for several years now, associations in rural regions have been in crisis. Many clubs are having problems recruiting new members – there is a lack of people who feel so connected to a club that they are willing to take on an honorary position. “Vereinsfinder Fichtelgebirge” aims to counteract this trend. “The rural area needs clubs as places to meet, for the nurturing of talent, to facilitate personal development, to experience interests and passions, and to increase general joie de vivre and sense of community”, explains Sabine Gollner, Chairwoman of “Künstlerkolonie Fichtelgebirge e.V.” (KÜKO), and adds: “With “Vereinsfinder Fichtelgebirge” we hope to contribute to young people getting enthusiastic about club culture again! Our aim is to support clubs in their efforts to strike the right balance between tradition and modern culture in order to retain their important function in today’s society and thus to be attractive.”

With the help of a new type of cooperation between cultural and creative professionals with club managers and volunteers – complemented by research from the University of Bayreuth – a “Reallabor” (Real-Life Laboratory) is being created, which, according to Dörfler, intends to counteract deficits in the clubs, especially in the areas of (digital) communication and public profile.

The idea for the project originally came from Sabine Gollner. She sought support from Prof. Dr. Eberhard Rothfuß and Dr. Thomas Dörfler from the Research Group Social Geography at the University of Bayreuth, who were instrumental in designing the funding application. The districts of both Bayreuth and Wunsiedel were quickly persuaded to support the idea financially – because they also felt the need to help all those working tirelessly in associations. It was then up to the research group to set up a university project with the appropriate equipment, in which Sabine Gollner took on the artistic-curative lead and Dr. Thomas Dörfler the scientific role.

“Vereinsfinder Fichtelgebirge” as a showcase for the region

The establishment of the internet platform was one of the first project measures. Already in the research phase, in which 165 cultural associations were contacted directly, it became apparent that the information of many clubs on the internet was outdated or that individuals in positions of responsibility at clubs could not be found at all. This made the importance of the portal even clearer. Ideally, associations and cultural initiatives will be able to network here and develop a kind of showcase for the region. And in practical terms, in workshops since autumn 2019, “Reallabor Fichtellab” (Fichtelalb Real-World Laboratory has been trialling initiatives for cultural associations to raise their profiles, but also to help make association procedures easier through digital media and processes. “We are very pleased”, say those responsible for the project, “that numerous associations are already taking part – and the platform is still open for registration. The project is focused on cultural associations for now, but we hope that by continuing the project, we will be able to extend the platform to other sectors.”

Online presentation at Zukunftsforum Ländliche Entwicklung

The project team has been invited to present “Vereinsfinder Fichtelgebirge” online at “Fachforum Digitale Plattformen” (Digital Platforms Expert Forum), held as part of “Zukunftsforum Ländliche Entwicklung” (Future Forum Rural Development) and organised by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, on Wednesday, 20 January 2021, from 3 to 5 p.m.

“Vereinsfinder Fichtelgebirge” is funded in the “Landkultur” programme by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture based on a resolution of the German Bundestag. Partners are the University of Bayreuth, the districts of Wunsiedel and Bayreuth, and the artists’ network “Künstlerkolonie Fichtelgebirge e.V.”

Further links



Dr. Thomasa DörflerLehrstuhl für Sozial- und Bevölkerungsgeographie

Sabine Gollner
Kreativagentur It’s about Time
95460 Bad Berneck
Phone: +49 (0) 9273 / 966 86 70


Brigitte Kohlberg

Deputy Press & PR Manager, University Communications

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5357

Office: Room 3.11, Building Central University Administration (ZUV)
Universitätsstraße 30, 95447 Bayreuth