Story of Uzupis Art Incubator

Monika Jasinskaite

I am project coordinator in Uzupis Art Incubator, and I am responsible here for the organization of exhibitions, of the events, and also I am responsible for the relationship with our private residents.

Here in Incubator we are like arts center in Uzupis, and what we have here is the space for the exhibitions. We have two different spaces actually for the moment. And also we have the space for the events like for the film screenings or for the concerts. So it is like based for interdisciplinary events.
Also we have here the spaces for the residents, and we have two types of residents here. One kind are the artists which are private artists like painters, musicians, who create individually. And also we have space for the artistic organizations.

So this place is the oldest art incubator in Baltic countries. Actually it became Incubator when nobody knew what art incubator is. But this place has started not from the official, like not officially. And for long time it was very unofficial and alternative art place. In the beginning of 1990s many artists came to live here in this house, which was abandoned then and had no electricity, no water, no basic infrastructure. And so they came here to live in this house. And in the way they saved this very old house, which was here. And we followed the history of this house until the middle 18th century. So the artists came and saved this house. There were musicians, painters, fashion designers living here in this house.

And after 5 years of living here and creating some artistic projects separately, they opened the gallery in 1995. So then was the first exhibition organized in here. And the gallery was working for few years like that. The situation changed from time to time for the initiative. From 1997 the gallery Galera opened here, and it was working until the renovation of this place. I mean, we still follow the tradition of Galera. So the idea is, that this place was as an alternative art space, where all the artists who were painting the exhibitions, they were creating it from their own will, from their own ideas. And who wanted to create here, they came, they told, I want to make it here, and they made it.

But everything started to change with the industrialization of the art, with the industrialization of culture, with the money coming in from funding. Especially it was like one of the key periods in 2008 – 2009, when Lithuania started to prepare as being the European Capital of Culture. And when Lithuanians started to understand, what is project funding, and how we can use this project funding. And of course this kind of funding it demands of really good planning, and forecasting, and also for very good managers, which Lithuania was lacking for at that moment.

So the change from the being this free will organization to the project organization is practically very difficult for Uzupis. Because Uzupis has been all the time a fluxus place in Lithuania, where artistic initiative and not the money is the most important thing. So basically, the line is 2008-2009, when also this renovation of building started. For the renovation of Uzupis Art Incubator there were structural funds of European Union, and also municipality funds were incorporated. And after the renovation Uzupis Art Incubator opened last year. It was in April 2013 when it started to work again and accepted residents back. And they could offer much more convenient places which had already the heating system, also the water, shower, toilet, and things like that. Now we all have this in this house, which used to be abandoned. But on the other hand we have a lot of expenses, which are monthly expenses for keeping this house. And this is really a challenge for the office, how to pay monthly expenses and how to organizes activities that all the monthly expenses could be covered.

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Monika Jasinskaite

Monika Jasinskaite

Uzupis Art Inkubator, Vilnius, Lithuania

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