Essen: concentrated creativity – an asset for the Nordviertel district atmosphere
Atelierhaus Schützenbahn 19/21 is a showcase facility for creative clusters
In September the excited visitors experienced a plethora of art works on 850 square metres on altogether three floors: The studio house Atelierhaus Schützenbahn 19/21 expected important visitors from the NRW state office of family, children, youth, culture and sports, and everything was decked out accordingly.
State secretary Klaus Schäfer took a tour of the art house established in December 2011 to get a first impression. The state secretary visited nine studios – artists working in the fields of fine arts, graphic arts, fashion / object / industry design, photographers, film makers, musicians, and writers, had opened their doors for the big day.
The six-storeyed building had been vacant for a long time. A dance studio, a TV studio, a tyre store room, a sail maker: they all moved away, and it took more than a decade of vacancy until the artists took charge of the house..
The art initiative Künstlerinitiative Freiraum (which even occupied the DGB building next to the vacant house for a short while) had publicly lamented the vacancy 2010, followed by discussions about the future of the artists – who finally came up with the concept “Room for arts in the northern part of downtown Essen” which dealt with the promotion of local artists. With that concept at hand, even the city of Essen tried to enforce the development of the northern area of downtown. According to the concept, creative work had been considered as something exclusive in the past, but in the meantime, it has found its way into all areas of mundane life and economy. So, a policy for the creative industry has become an overall strategy of municipal policies beyond all departments.
Atelierhaus Schützenbahn – an initial spark for the development of creative quarters
Now, the office of culture, together with the Kunsthaus Essen, ecce (european centre for creative economy), and the Essener Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft (EWG) supports the sustainable settlement of artists in the northern area of the city. The settlement is an important part of a future development of a creative district there. Since February 2012, the first ones to start this movement are the studio houses Schützenbahn 19/21 and 38.
The director of the studio house, Dr. Uwe Schramm, who is also the manager and curator of the Kunsthaus Essen, presented the premises together with ecce’s managing director Professor Dieter Gorny, Bernd Fesel, Alfons Wafner (representative of the city’s culture office), and Andreas Bomheuer, deputy of culture, integration, and sports of the city of Essen. Uwe Schramm is convinced: “We have initiated the first spark with the Atelierhaus Schützenbahn 19/21. The district is finally focused on a change – and even the issues which may be the cause for some friction are exciting.”
Affordable conditions for artists
Especially young university graduates, artists, and creative people are supposed to rent the affordable studios for a maximum of five years: the monthly studio rent amounts to 2,50 Euro per square metre. The artists have to apply for a studio because there is a strong demand for art rooms in Essen. A jury, with the Kunsthaus Essen as the presiding party, finally decides on the application.
Promoting qualification and professionalisation
But renting and operating the house are not the only intentions: the Atelierhaus Schützenbahn 19/21 is meant to promote the qualification and professionalisation of the artists, thus supporting start-up businesses. Uwe Schramm: “There is a considerable need for knowledge because unfortunately, the universities and academies don’t teach the economic side of arts explicitly, they only touch that subject marginally.” In addition to that, exhibitions, artist talks, lectures, music and dance performances should be established to provide the necessary publicity.
A look at other art genres
The resident artists appreciate their new rooms – before, they had to put up with difficult conditions of work. Photographer Katrin Lingen, for example, had to work without daylight in the Goethe-Bunker. Others like the opportunity to work outside their academies and to take a look at other art genres. Artist Patricia Murawski (her trademark: painting with her hair while banging her head to Heavy Metal music) has set up her first studio in the Atelierhaus Schützenbahn, sharing it with communication designer and artist Nadine Bieg.
The Atelierhaus is meant to be a showcase facility, an initial spark for creative clusters, its concentrated creative potential a positive influence on the district. For the secretary of state Klaus Schäfer, the district/neighbourhood character is important: “If the house can contribute to the feat of improving and enhancing the district atmosphere, that will be a big asset.” He compares the development in the district to the Kulturcampus in Frankfurt which is designed to sanitise the Bockenheim district and vitalise the social, economical, and cultural structure of the entire city. The Kulturcampus should be a location for arts, but not an artifical district. It should be a place for everyone – that is the vision the initiators of the Forum Kulturcampus Frankfurt have. „The Kulturcampus is an attractive project“, says Klaus Schäfer. “And I also see the potential to create identifications and small islands here.“
The fact of Facts- by Zeitgeist/ Zeitpunkt 2014
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