Page 29

Contributed by Monika Teal

Art Wins: PROGR in Berne Think of any major city in the world, and one of the first things that come to mind is its cultural scene.

27 ments, press releases, and media coverage are encouraged. The work must be innovative and original and the submitting artists should be motivated by the PROGR ideals, guaranteeing artists of a high quality. The studios are spacious and placed so that the various genres can work easily together while at the same time giving artists precious individual creative time.


usinesses decide which city to locate to with an eye on the health of the arts in that city. Many cities have even developed their identity around their artistic offerings. The awareness that a healthy art scene contributes to a more stable economy and is a selling point for many industries and businesses seeking new locations. A healthy arts scene in a city also means a healthy living environment and lifestyle. For a city to reach this status requires a commitment to and belief in the value of the arts, both performing and visual.

PROGR is now putting the city of Berne on the international arts map. What began in 2004 as a temporary home for artists of every genre in the unused Progymnasium (hence PROGR) building on Waisenhausplatz is now a permanent home for many creative genres. The former Progymnasium building used to house a middle school, and the idea of learning and growing continues in the building. The Cultural Secretary of the Municipality of Berne, Christoph Reichenau, recognized the opportunity to “improve the cultural scene of Berne and to strengthen art education and to intensify integration within Berne’s cultural center.” In 2004 the vacant school converted into studios and workshops until the future of the building could be solidified by the city of Berne. Other ideas, including the possibility of the Bern Kunstmuseum using it as a space for contemporary

art, failed in gaining the necessary support, but PROGR idea blossomed and grew. In 2009 the people of Berne were impressed with the concept, and voted by 66% in favor of continued support of the PROGR project. Supporters of the arts donated 12 million Swiss francs to the PROGR project and its position as a long term and solid cultural center was secured. PROGR is now the home to over 4500 square meters of artists’ ateliers, with over 150 artists working in affordable working spaces for all categories of the arts: visual arts, music, dance, theatre, graphics, photography, fashion, film and installation spaces to galleries and exhibition spaces, public rental spaces, performance venues, complete with a café and a social setting for the artists and their visitors. One hundred percent of the operating expenses come from all the rentals. The one strict rule is quality for all the renters. The studio applicants must prove a serious and professional dedication in their art. Artists are granted rental space after a strict jurying process from other professionals and qualified arts persons. Applying artists from all fields of art are required to present a professional résumé and a strong record of professional performance. Submission of catalogs of professional accomplish-

Recently PROGR was presented a 100,000 franc Burger Kulturpreis, one of the largest grants for the arts in Switzerland. The PROGR project is working and it has the support it needs to thrive. PROGR is rapidly gaining respect from the art world. Not only in Berne, not only in Switzerland, but also on an international level. To learn more about PROGR and how to benefit from the arts offerings, check their website. Their offerings to the public are impressive and too many to mention in one article. Monika Teal is a professional full time artist and former university art instructor in the U.S. She has exhibited in galleries and museums internationally and is the recipient of many prestigious awards and honors. She maintains a studio in Switzerland and also gives private lessons to artists.


One of the artist ateliers at PROGR

PROGR is a huge success. There is now a waiting list of over 100 artists who would love the chance to submit to the rigors of the jury for consideration of a studio and performing space. But spaces are available only when a resident artist chooses to leave. The artists, performing and visual, are content in their surroundings and are able to pursue their art in a healthy environment.

Hello Switzerland for Expatriates, Summer Edition 2012  
Hello Switzerland for Expatriates, Summer Edition 2012  

Hello Switzerland is written by expats for expats living in Switzerland. Designed mainly for English speakers, the magazine contains feature...