(Through) Culture against desolation

Efforts to create a cultural centre in the street Vlhká will continue despite stonewalling
Press release of the collective Culture against desolation, 20th of July 2015

The Culture against desolation collective has been negotiating with the municipality of Brno about establishing a social and cultural centre in an abandoned municipal space in the street Vlhká for a year and a half. We request the municipality to do a single thing: by means of a symbolic rent, let us renovate and meaningfully utilise the space which is decaying in the long term and on which you are all at sea anyway. We are a collective of people who concern themselves with the look of their city and with the events here. We don’t demand any subsidies from the municipality, we invest our own spare time and resources in the creation of the centre.

Our request was discussed last week by the Property Commission of the City Council of Brno. In spite of the fact that we had delivered all required materials and there are no objective obstacles impeding any activity in Vlhká, by the end of last week we received an information that the commission under direction of Klára Liptáková, mayor’s deputy for the issues of property, postponed our request. The request is thus blocked and cannot move forward to the City Council of Brno for authorization. At the same time the abandoned buildings are not necessarily going to survive the winter without repairs. The deputy had already presented her substantiation earlier in media: if we repaired the buildings in Vlhká by self-help we might not like when the city wants to tear them down.

Introduction

(Through) Culture against desolation is a collective working under the auspices of the eponymous citizens‘ association whose aim is to meaningfully utilise a complex of abandoned and decaying buildings in central Brno and establish here a non-profit community centre.

Who We Are
What is our vision?

The main purpose of the collective (Through) Culture against desolation is a meaningful use of abandoned brownfields in the street Vlhká in the heart of Brno and a creation of a non-profit autonomous community centre.

Whereas the current city pointlessly develops and expands in the vast areas and devours surrounding landscape, the local municipality has not enough financial means available for a renovation of tens of devastated buildings situated in the very heart of urban space. After the period of a long devastation such spaces are usually sold to a private investor and rebuilt into expansive shopping malls, offices or luxurious flats. However such a solution brings an array of problems because a new construction is usually not properly connected with its former neighbourhood and for local inhabitants it represents a new inconvenience.

Our aim is to prevent this situation and create an autonomous centre, which will sensitively reflect the needs of local people, which will provide an opportunity for a creative self-realisation of all interested persons willing to respect the principles of our collective. The centre will thus constitute a kind of counterpart to a massive commercialization of the public space.“

What came about in the past: happening as a recovery of the decaying space

By force of the happening that took place on the August 31st 2013 we presented an alternative way how to use the decaying spaces. We believe that an initiative does not come necessarily from above (from politicians, officials or private investors). It can also come underneath from local people who know best what they need in their neighbourhood. For that reason we temporarily occupied the abandoned complex of municipal buildings in the street Vlhká and endowed it with life. During one afternoon and night many activities took place in the decaying places: panel discussion, concerts, workshops, screening and other acts of art.

That event served as an appeal to the city administration for helpfully enabling people to utilise the municipal spaces that are abandoned in the long term. At the same time however it was an appeal to all inhabitants of the town for their initiative contributing to the recovery of decaying spaces. Large response from both participants of the event and media showed that the need for such centre is really strong in Brno.

What is currently going on?

Based on the happening’s success and the positive media response, in September we started to negotiate with the city representatives. We founded a citizens‘ association and currently we are waiting for an evaluation of the request that we sent to the municipal government in February 2014. The collective is presently divided into working groups that are going to systematically take care for chosen agendas.