Success Story from Russia

Darius Polok

I will give you an example from Russia again. We did a programme with partners from Hungary, Germany and Russia. In the city of Perm we developed a Temporary Art Squat. That is the name of a place in Perm where artists from all the disciplines could meet, could do rehearsals and present the results. They had exhibitions and also concerts. 

And this was very specific because a place like this did not exist before. There were places in hand of city administrations or commercial places but no really independent place being run by the civil society and by the free scene. There was no example for place like this before. So this was unique. And the unique part was that we got the old tram station from the city administration and we had a time of one month to transfer it to an art space.  

About 20 people from the art scene in Perm worked with us together on changing the space into the art space. This was the most important process. I have been part of it. Because it is not about the infrastructure, it is not about creating the space as a physical body. It is about creating a community of people doing something together. 

What happened after this is frustrating. The city administration after the project was very successful. Closed the place. Took the idea of independent art squat into their own policy. So we were successful but they did it on their own and they were now responsible. And they decided who will get the money. 
But this community of people who did the space with us did a new space somewhere else. I learned there that if you work with a community, you really work with the people and give people the chance to do something on their own, even though the authority takes them the space, there is a chance that the community will develop something new in the future and they will produce something on their own later on without the authority. 

So a part of the story is frustrating because it was not successful. The city authority did not really support the space for long time. But it is realistic. The success story is that this community of about 20 artists of the city and their network was growing. It was about 100 people in a whole city. And 3 years after they are still working. There is a new space. Maybe you know how the politic space in Russia is... And they do survive. And this is a success story. It is not a big “aha” but it is a realistic success story I guess.  

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Darius Polok

Darius Polok

Director of MitOst in Berlin, Germany

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