|Marc Hildesheimer and Wies van
Putting a vital art center in
The 'Atelierhaus fuer Kunst
Medien und Kommunikation' in Essen, faced with eager advocates of privatization
Since the 1990s, the 'Atelier House'
for Art and Communication has been more than a structure housing the studios
of artists, among them initially Mr.Lungwitz, a sculptor and later, above
all, Doris Schoettler-Boll who does photographic collages and montages
which have received considerable attention from both critics and colleagues.
The old school building, in the
Steele neighborhood of Essen, in Germany, has become an informal civic
center, and at least as importantly, a center of the arts, a meeting place
for artists and non-artists, and a stage for film screenings, art exhibitions,
poetry reading, and critical debates on the arts and their significance
in our contemporary societies.
People from the neighborhood, both
the young and the old, have collected signatures for the preservation of
the building which some officials in the city administration have again
and again targeted fror demolition, in order to enable them to sell the
property to a developer.
People from the neighborhood, as
well as artists, film-makers, poets have gravitated to this center of civic
and artistic activities.
Since 1999, Doris Schoettler-Boll
has attracted noteworthy artists and art critics, people from 'academia'
and people with a practical involvement in the arts who have come to talk
about and show their artistic work.
The 'Atelier House' homepage mentions
her important series of projects, called "Persons - Projects - Perspectives"
and informs in great detail about these activities.
Recently, the city of Essen - the
future Cultural Capital of Europe - has shown in increased inclination
to shed responsibility for the 'Atelier House' it owns. Probably, the treasurer
considers the cost of maintaining the building in reasonably good shape
as too much of a burden even though only very minor sums are at stake.
The department of the city entrusted with the administration and, if possible,
sale of city-owned properties seems to be keen to sell and realize a profit.
Although there are those within the city administration who care for the
arts and who highly value the cultural contribution of publicly engaged
artists like Doris Schoettler-Boll, the future of the 'Atelier House' seems
to be at risk. Chances are that a compromise will be suggested, a privatization
of the building, and a so-called guarantee that some sort of cultural activities
would still find room on its premises. As the advocates of privatization
also seem to advocate a hefty reduction if not an almost complete end of
subsidies to art houses, to artists, and for exhibitions and other events
connected with the arts (or featuring the arts), this would mean the end
of the 'Atelier House' as we now know it. Its activities, despite a small
monetary and considerable work input by people like Doris Schoettler-Boll,
was never self-sufficient in financial terms. They are not able to pay
market rents. They need a public space owned by the city, in order to obtain
solutions that amount to paying no rent at all or a small symbolic rent,
plus their own water, gas, and electricity bill. They are in dire need
of at least small subsidies, in order to (barely) survive. We take the
present, decisive turn of events that indicates an impending attempt at
privatization - that is to say, a search for a private buyer of the 'Atelier
House' - to be enough of a reason to issue a warning call, and at
the same time an urgent call for support.
Check the homepage of this center
of the arts, of media & communication. in Essen, the future cultural
capital of Europe.
See the article by... (in German), which
contains additional information.