Resident: Michaela Rohrmoser
Photographer Bernhard Müller in conversation with Michaela Rohrmoser, District Governor of Lungau and Born 1964 in Friesach/Carinthia, lives in Tamsweg and Wagrain.
“The southernmost district is my favourite”.
What was your career like and how did you come to Lungau?
I was born in Carinthia and after school and university I married in Pongau. My professional career was such that I first started in Pinzgau at the district administration and after a few years I moved to Pongau. There I was the head of the police department for 10 years, where I was also responsible for major events such as ski jumping in Bischofshofen or the World Cup in Flachau and Zauchensee. Subsequently, I became district chief in Lungau.
So you haven’t left the province of Salzburg in your professional and private life and have been through almost all of Salzburg’s districts professionally?
Yes, every district has its beauties and peculiarities, but for me, as someone who grew up in neighbouring Carinthia, one thing is certain: the southernmost district is my favourite.
Do you also live in the Lungau?
I have a small flat in Lungau, my main residence is in Pongau, where my husband works as a general practitioner. My main work is of course in Tamsweg and I spend most of my time in Lungau.
Having lived in almost all the districts, what makes the Lungau special for you and is it very different from the other districts?
Absolutely. The Lungau is a beautiful district. There is still a lot of countryside, little urban sprawl and its everyday life is not yet as touristy as, for example, the Pinzgau or the Pongau. Tourism in the Lungau is much gentler and it is also the biosphere that contributes to tourism developing much more gently. Customs and folk culture in general are intensively upheld in the Lungau; there are above-average numbers of people organised in associations who do this in their free time, and this is of course very noticeable in all the festivals in the ecclesiastical cycle and also in the village festivals or the festivals of the market communities. We recently experienced this at the 300-year celebration of the Tamsweg Samson, where all the participants once again gave their all. In the jewels of Mauterndorf and Tamsweg, the protection of the townscape is really taken seriously, and these are magnificent town centres. It is really wonderful here.
In my conversations, cohesion in the Lungau is always at the top of the list. What is your experience of this?
There is a great deal of cohesion here, also due to the activities of the associations. This is also reflected in the variety of cultural activities. On the one hand there is folk culture, which is strongly supported by the associations, but on the other hand we have the cultural association in Lungau, starting with the cinema and the theatre. I have experienced great theatre performances – with very special locations, for example the Iso-Spannwerk or the old glassworks in St. Michael. From the quirky concerts, so to speak, to the visual arts, we have many established artists, but also very young ones who always have openings.
Is modern art more concentrated in Tamsweg?
No, I wouldn’t say that at all. For example, there are theatre groups in St. Margarethen and in St. Michael. Tamsweg is of course a focal point, but it is also in the other market towns that something takes place again and again, vernissages sometimes in Ramingstein, sometimes in Tamsweg, really quite different.
I have noticed that art in public spaces or modern art is hardly visible or discoverable.
There is certainly a deficit there!
Art in public space also shapes the landscape and people. Why is it that art in public space is not to be found in the Lungau?
I don’t think that this is a problem specific to the Lungau – in general, art in public spaces is not very much of an issue in rural areas. I do believe that modern art is not yet a priority in Lungau, but I hope that it will develop. Long before my time, there was a discussion about building a cultural centre here – but the population did not approve.
Do you see this as a deficit compared to the other regions?
I am always happy for people to develop further and to open up. I could imagine that with the return of young, well-educated women from Lungau, interest in modern art will increase. Attractive job opportunities are necessary for this.
I am very much involved in this process.
It often comes up in conversations that young people leave to study and then have difficulty finding work here or that there is not the diversity of jobs. Is this a matter close to your heart and how do you approach it?
Absolutely. Absolutely yes. I can tell you an example from my own area: Since I took office as district chief, I have succeeded in creating several new positions in the district administration and thus bringing young families to the Lungau. In our work we have a focus on traffic offences, we handle the CBE (Cross Border Enforcement) procedures of all five districts. This positive development will continue in the next few years. The next step is the relocation of the Provincial Tax Office from the central region to Tamsweg.
Doesn’t industry always play a big role in bringing back well-educated people?
We have few large industrial enterprises here. There is certainly still room for improvement in this area. Ideally, companies that are compatible with the biosphere would be desirable.