Schiller coined a word to get beyond the worst crisis of his time, the Terror that turned the liberating French Revolution into a warning against change. Spieltrieb/Playdrive is his new name for the human capacity to generate non-violent progress. The faculty of play creates new forms that can bypass violence and inequality. We need this drive now to advance beyond the pandemic crisis. Crisis means turning point, a moment of opportunity and obligation to make positive change in all spheres, everything from public health and security to economic development and civics. The way forward is through culture and education. Mannheim, where Schiller established the Public Theater, is the ideal vanguard city for an ambitious global aesthetic education that can launch a new Renaissance of creative post-pandemic collaborations.
Mannheim’s recent and remarkable cases for culture already contribute to the city’s safety and development as the likes of “Alter” from POW e.V.. And the new multi-use Public Library is poised to support all public institutions through re-dedication to Schiller’s spirit, starting with his exhortation to educate the general public in arts and sciences. Today’s educators appreciate the arts and cultural activity for enhancing socio-emotional development, but not for cognitive growth which seems to be a separate goal. The division is debilitating and forfeits a holistic approach to personal and collective development. Articulating arts with everything else is what the Renaissance periods did, starting with the quattrocento in Europe and then expanding globally. The arts are vehicles for critical thinking, experiments, reflections and interpretation; they need to be integrated into required school curricula and into a network of after-school programs that keep youth creatively and intellectually engaged during the hours when boredom breeds drugs, crime, and teenage pregnancy.