Old coin in Berlin: room procurement as a high performance sport

Debate on participation in cultural policy
:Old coin is the model case

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    Petra Kohse

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By 2026, the Old Coin is to be rebuilt as needed and opened as a place of culture and creative industries.


Imago / Christian Thiel

On June 13, a cultural-political experiment comes to an end. And in his next phase. The participation process for the future of the Alte Mnze has been completed, and the recommendations, which could be reached by 40 people as representatives of future users, are discussed in a final forum with the public and then handed over to politics.

The Alte Mnze is the former industrial estate on the Spree, whose floors and basements add up to 15,000 square meters in prime location. Under the Red-Red-Green Senate, the Chamber of Deputies has decided to use cultural and creative industries, and the left-wing Senate Department for Culture has been actively involved in swarm intelligence. Rooms! Free scene! Participation! A signature project.

Accordingly thoroughly one proceeded. Half of the forty future dissidents have been occupied by politicians with representatives of interest groups such as the coalition of the independent scene or the Spreewerksttten, which already used the Alte Mnze. The other half was drawn.

Four workshops with 40 people in four months – participation makes work

In addition, there were on the platform mein.berlin.de three Internet forums on the subject, but found little resonance. The whole thing was coordinated by the former Senate employee Christiane Zieseke, moderated by the agency Urban Catalysts, in four workshops between February and June. Participation is work.

The aim of the process was to propose a usage mix and a form of operator for the Alte Mnze, with which the clientele identified by the Senate Culture Administration as being housed here: a free scene with a music focus as well as a creative industry.

How much of the – financially somewhat more potent – creative economy will be necessary, depends on how much profit the operation of the Old Mint has to generate in what time (as a depreciation, which should be used as reserve). And that in turn depends on the Senate Department for Finance.

For a while, it appeared that it was determined to torpedo the case and had the Berlin Real Estate Management Company (BIM), which had been entrusted with managing the Alte Mnze, suddenly confront the discussion group in the middle of the participation process in March with a possible rent of up to 20 euros per square meter. The lack of unity on the political side angered the honorary participants.

“With an average rent of six, seven euros cold, culture has a chance.”

Nevertheless, the proceedings have been continued and will be announced on 13 June, although discussions between administrations are still ongoing. “If we can get an average rent of six, seven euros cold,” says Secretary of State Torsten Whlert, “then culture in the Old Coin has a chance. If we have to be above, then not. “

It is clear, after all, that the Berlin-based coalition of the independent scene, which claims to represent 50,000 freelance artists, clearly stands behind the plans of the Kultursenat in terms of Alter Mnze. Meanwhile, there are atmospheric disturbances in other cultural issues.

Indeed, in a press release at the beginning of June, the scene rated the work of Culture Senator Klaus Lederer as “disappointing to catastrophic,” as “only 5 percent of the cultural budget was available to 95 percent of Berlin’s artists” and disregarded their expertise and self-governing structure remained.

And this in the case of a senate in whose coalition paper stands: “Participation and regular dialogue with the cultural workers of Berlin provide the basis for future cultural policy. In addition, networks and self-organized structures are supported and the administrative work structures are strengthened. “Exclamation mark. Is the disappointment so great, because one has just expected so much from a leftist cultural senator?

The independent scene does not take its structure seriously

“Yes. No, “say Bettina Bohle (music) and Daniel Brunet (performing arts) from the circle of spokespersons of the free-lance coalition over coffee in Monsieur Ibrahim’s Krtestrasse. It is not that one does not see the effort. However, Bohle, as a representative of a grassroots body, can not comment on information that is available at a meeting. For example. Since you feel in his structure then not taken seriously.

And Brunet suspects that politics can have a different understanding of participation than the independent scene. For him, this term is synonymous with “eye level, codetermination and codecision”. Exactly this is missing however both in the exchange over a new conveyor system as well – above all! – in the reorientation of the workspace program without paid space coordinators from the scene and the disinterested redeployment of part of the provided for the independent scene money from the City Tax in a funding program for festivals and ranks.

“Tabletop templates are not malicious.”

“Without this being an excuse, participation and administration are a difficult couple,” Torsten Whlert admits on the phone. One would have personal staff emergencies and structural necessities. “Table templates are not made with malicious intent, but if you have not finished early enough to be able to send out the concepts beforehand.” So far, there is no experience of participatory processes with one’s own staff. But in 2020, two employees would be hired who had this expertise.

The workspace program sees the State Secretary of Culture as unfortunately “mined area”. For a long time, the procurement of space in Berlin had been the domain of the studio commissioner, until Tim Renner, Whlert’s predecessor in office, also took into account the interests of other art branches and as a pilot project had recently been paid room scouts of each division. “But at the end of 2017, I had to report to Parliament that I had spent about 150,000 euros on space coordinators, who had only nine rooms in total.”

Since the procurement of space in Berlin is something like high-performance sport and already two people from the cultural administration are busy only to protect the cultural interests in questions of space in relation to other senate areas, Whlert relies on the establishment of a “cultural space office” in 2020. It should be baufachliches and combine administrative knowledge with knowledge of artistic practice. For non-artists could learn which rooms the arts need. In addition, the rental program will be increased by one million euros and also the investment funds would be increased.

“Space is for artists only the prerequisite for their work.”

The cultural office, Whlert almost enthusiastically, could also be a place for consultation, jury meetings or future labs. “I hope we get into a productive dialogue with the scene. After all, for artists, space is only the prerequisite for being able to begin their work. “In fact,” participation “only means being involved in a principled way – which must always be defined. And in the political sphere, the mandate lies with the Senator, even if he, like the Left Lederer, does not insist on his exclusive authority to interpret. And, according to Whlert: “In the end, we always have to answer for the correct settlement of the funds.”

In the case of Alte Mnze, participation will continue after tonight. Two working groups, whose core consists of the participants in the participation process, will – hopefully finally with a specific financial framework – continue to develop the community-based usage concept and operating model by the end of the year. “Then both will be discussed in the culture committee on its feasibility,” said Whlert. “And on this basis, the building planning is made for the Old Mint.” A few feathers will certainly have to let the concept – because before the law of the common denominator in a democracy, yes, certainly all the same.