Nordic Perspectives on European Networking 13 independent cultural centres in conversation
This publication is produced within TRANS NORDIC NET, a project supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers.
To Share and Compare What does international networking mean to independent cultural centres in the Nordic countries? How do they make their international contacts matter? During the years 2008-2010 Trans Europe Halles (TEH), the European Network of Independent Cultural Centres, paid extra attention to independent cultural centres in the Nordic countries. Thanks to a grant from the Nordic Council of Ministers, TEH was able to create Trans Nordic Net, an informal platform with the aim to facilitate exchange between Nordic TEH members, to encourage their active involvement in the life of TEH and to test projects that later could be implemented on a European level.
Text, editing, layout: Karl Hallberg, Not Quite Idea & project management: Anna Weitz, Trans Europe Halles Proof reading: Marian Sรถderholm, Trans Europe Halles Photos: page 16: Subtopia, all other photos: TEH Archive This publication is produced under a Creative Commons Licence 3.0 (Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike). You may copy, distribute and show in public the texts and translations for non-commercial purposes.
Looking back, a few outcomes stand out. During the project period, six Nordic leaders of cultural centres got together and created a forum for structured discussion about professional issues at stake in their in their daily work. This forum was very successful and sparked a discussion in the whole network about the importance of leadership for promoting mobility and professional development in an international context. The concept has developed into TEH Leaders Lab, a project funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, which kicks off in the Spring 2011. Another exciting result is the emerging TEH Media Network, initiated by the Swedish TEH member Subtopia in Botkyrka, Stockholm, and now involving centres across Europe and beyond. Nevertheless, reading the interviews in this booklet, it becomes clear that it is not the number of projects that makes a network matter. It is the sense of having colleagues to share and compare with. In this booklet delegates from the 13 Nordic TEH members as of December 2010, reflect on what it means to be part of an international network, and what they would like to use the network for in the future. The interviews have been carried out by Karl Hallberg, president of Not Quite in Fengersfors, Sweden, one of the newest Nordic TEH members. Many thanks to Karl Hallberg and everyone interviewed. Anna Weitz, Project Manager Trans Nordic Net Lund, December 2010
TEH has been awarded a multi-annual operational grant by the Nordic Council of Ministers for the project Trans Nordic Net. The work programme of TEH has been funded with the support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. TEH has received operational grants from the City of Lund and the Swedish Arts Council. The TEH Coordination Office is hosted by Mejeriet.
An incredible instrument Korjaamo Culture Factory (Helsinki, Finland) is founded on a new concept of urban space where the creators of art and culture and their works mix and mingle with the viewing public. Situated in the old tram depot, Korjaamo is made up of galleries, a café, bar, club space, theatre, shop, and even the Tram Museum is still here. It has been described as an “urban living room” where people and culture come together in the heart of Helsinki, whether it’s for theatre, visual arts, clubbing, or meeting up over a coffee or beer. Korjaamo is also a place for work. Inside the old tram depot, an office hotel is in operation for creative businesses and freelancers.
What’s the most interesting Nordic or European project that you have been involved in during the last three years? – We have not been involved in projects with the network. We were not a part of Changing Room, although we would have liked to be. Right now we are leading a Finland - Russia project financed by the Finnish state, we are partners in a Nordic project and we are waiting for an answer to an application called Nordic Dimension which is a project in Scandinavia, Poland and Germany about creative industries. Korjaamo is an independent culture centre and we build our economy through business and art. We are always trying to develop our activities. Hosting a TEH meeting in 2007 was interesting. We made a typology of centres and found out that there are five different models of running a centre. The TEH sponsorship project was also interesting as I had the opportunity to visit 20 25 members, giving workshops and getting to know the centres and the people working there. If you could dream a little – what would you like to use Trans Europe Halles and/or Trans Nordic Net for in the future?
Raoul Grünstein, why are you a member of Trans Europe Halles? – We joined in 2005 and the main benefits would be networking and kind of building a creative community with personal relationships. The benefit for our centre, and for us personally, is that we can learn from others by best cases and by interviewing people. There is both informal sharing of knowledge and some good information systems. We got to know about the information system that we are now implementing from another TEH member, for example. It is always interesting to see other centres and learn about how they structure their work. I would like too see an external goal of the network like a common mission of European culture. I have been working in a sponsorship project with TEH where we tried to define such a mission.
– We have not attended the Trans Nordic Net meetings. We are interested in principal, but have been very busy and have not been able to join in more projects. I would like to see a deepened collaboration between member centres, and if a Nordic network would make that possible I think it is a good idea. My wish is that when we have this incredible tool or instrument of 50 independent multidisciplinary cultural centres, that we should work towards a common mission, to develop the future of European culture from our point of view.
We should work towards a common mission, to develop the future of European culture from our point of view. www.korjaamo.fi
New perspectives Kaapelitehdas (Helsinki, Finland) - The Cable Factory - is the largest cultural centre in Finland. It offers space for all possible fields and forms of art. The 53,000 m2 building originally housed a factory, which manufactured electricity and telephone lines. When production ceased in 1985, the owner of the factory began leasing out the facilities to artists. In 1991, it was converted into a fully independent cultural centre. The Cable Factory is maintained and developed by a company owned by the City of Helsinki. In 2008, the same company started developing the historic power plant area in Suvilahti into a unique cultural centre.
What’s the most interesting Nordic or European project that you have been involved in during the last three years? – For me the Changing Room project has been interesting. We were not part of the project, because TEH needed somebody in the Executive Committee to look after the project and that became my task. It was interesting and educating to see how it developed, as it was the first time that I worked with a big EC funded project. I had an overall look on it and could see how people are different and how they work in their own specific circumstances. Changing Room is also a good example of how the distributed production model works – how people spread over Europe were working with the same project. If you could dream a little – what would you like to use Trans Europe Halles and/or Trans Nordic Net for in the future?
Stuba Nikula, why are you a member of Trans Europe Halles? – Kaapelitehdas has been a member of TEH for 15 years. The informality of the network was appealing. Personally our intentions are not about making projects as much as meeting colleagues and talking about practical, boring sounding things. We can talk for two hours about the bar rent contract for example. It is important to have an international benchmark. The meetings are very good, and to work 24/7 for a couple of days somewhere else gives a lot of new perspectives. I always come back refreshed and I think going to the meetings makes me a better director, which benefits our organisation of course. I usually go to the meetings with the press officer as TEH is a lot about communication and we learn a lot from looking at how others work with these questions.
– The Nordic Leaders’ group has been a good ventilation tool. I think the reason for this Nordic network is that the TEH network has expanded and it is nice to be part of a smaller group of people. Expansion is good but the personal contacts are important to feel more comfortable and be more open. Maybe there could be more sub-networks, a Mediterranean or a Balkan group for example, the division could be geographical or of some other kind. When it comes to the expansion of the network I would like to see a bigger geographical spread of member centres.
It is important to have an international benchmark.
Encouragement and new ideas Verkatehdas (Hämeenlinna, Finland) is a new-generation arts and conference centre with a very wide concept of culture. It is one of the largest European cultural centres housed in old factories, and combines public and private services and civic activities. Currently Verkatehdas is the home of a multi-functional concert venue, an art museum, the City Theatre, a Children’s Art Centre, the Finnish public radio, designers and artist studios, production offices and an advertising agency. The versatile spaces include a main hall for 703 delegates, eight conference rooms, auditoriums and exhibition spaces, four cinema screens, three theatres, a music bar, a run-by-artists gallery etc.
What’s the most interesting Nordic or European project that you have been involved in during the last three years? – The project of the last 10 years has been creating a new art centre, Verkatehdas. In that process it has been very interesting to be a member of Trans Europe Halles. When we plan new investments I find myself remembering my own experiences from visiting other centres and the experiences of my colleagues in TEH. We have international items in our programming but no big international projects yet. If you could dream a little – what would you like to use Trans Europe Halles and/or Trans Nordic Net for in the future? – I am satisfied with the Nordic Leaders’ group – it offers very good collegial support with a lot of stimulating discussions, and I am looking forward to see how this will develop. As I see it, TEH is a network of people working in the independent cultural centres more than a network of centres.
Jouko Astor, why are you a member of Trans Europe Halles?
The main support has been ideas and examples of construction and about the substance of constructions.
– When the Verkatehdas project started we wanted to find good examples and practices of not so posh art centres, where we could learn and find something new and in the beginning of 2000 we found TEH. At first we were touring, visiting centers in the Nordic countries and in Western Europe, mainly members of TEH. The second step was to become a friend (associated member) of TEH in 2004, before we had started our centre. It was natural to join as a full member in 2006 when Verkatehdas Company was founded as an independent organisation. We have had very many good ideas, examples and support for developing our centre from the network. The main support has been ideas and examples of construction and about the substance of construction work. We have had encouragement from the network to develop the venue from new ideas, not only from the perspective of the arts in the traditional way, but from the audiences and the consumer point of view.
A strong voice in Europe Subtopia (Botkyrka, Sweden) is a spacious suburban paradise situated in Alby, a multicultural suburban area in the outskirts of Stockholm, Sweden. Subtopia’s main purpose is to develop creative industries in the area and to be a platform where cultural entrepreneurs can realize their dreams. The centre’s focus areas are circus, street performance and film but amongst the approximately 40 organisations that are located in the area, there is a wide range of different art forms. Subtopia is a joint-stock company owned by the municipality of Botkyrka, and was founded in 2002 in what used to be an experimental farm built in the beginning of the last century.
What’s the most interesting Nordic or European project that you have been involved in during the last three years? – We have a lot of international contacts and projects, for example a new circus project called Cascas and a film project in our region with European funding. It has been great to work with the TEH Media Network and TEH TV, and I hope that we can develop it further and go for more documentation with moving images. We have the New Nordic Circus Network, financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers, where Subtopia hopes that other TEH members, e.g. Verkatehdas and Kaapelitehdas, can be involved as presenters of contemporary circus. Through the Nordic collaborations within TEH, we have been able to work with other Nordic networks, developing our ideas and practice. The Changing Room project was fantastic - that TEH managed such a big and complex project with a content that was beneficial for so many people. If you could dream a little – what would you like to use Trans Europe Halles and/or Trans Nordic Net for in the future?
Karin Lekberg, why are you a member of Trans Europe Halles? – It was like finding a bigger family or another home. Everything it means to work in old industrial buildings brings us together. There is also a great possibility to exchange productions and to present work from other centres in other parts of Europe. It is fantastic to meet all these super smart, cool and fun people who all want to make the world a little bit better. The network makes our work more professional. It runs large projects and becomes a strong voice in the European community. The traditional, slightly conservative cultural centres need us, the independent culture, as a counterweight with a different range of cultural activities. Taking place in the international arena is essential for our work. We want to have direct connections with other countries in Europe, to benefit from experiences of others, and to get to know how we can contribute with our own expertise. We are also members of other more specialized networks, but TEH and its meetings have a unique welcoming atmosphere, which enables all kinds of discussions.
– I would like more collaboration between Nordic centres. There are a lot of possibilities even if the artistic content is not of the same kind. I feel a strong support from the Nordic network and a security if things would get tough here, politically or in other ways. I would like to develop the idea of creative incubators or starting houses. If we could organise the centres interested in this, we could move people and competences and create a collective knowledge of creative incubators. I hope TEH will continue the mediation of knowledge on a broad basis. More people should be able to move, to do internships and to learn from others. I think TEH can become a strong voice in the cultural context in all European countries.
It is fantastic to meet all these super smart, cool and fun people who all want to make the world a little bit better.
Experience and knowledge Mejeriet (Lund, Sweden) is a cultural venue opened in 1987 in a former dairy. The venue works as an umbrella organisation for six non-profit associations, which in turn are responsible for the events at the venue. The building has a bar, a cinema, rehearsal rooms and two stages that since the inauguration has hosted concerts with legends such as Miles Davis, Oasis and Sinéad O´Connor. Today, Mejeriet presents and produces concerts, clubs, film, theatre and other cultural events. Mejeriet is also the host of the Trans Europe Halles Coordination Office.
What is the most interesting Nordic or European project you have been involved in during the last three years? – Changing Room was very successful and rewarding. We had Staff Exchanges with Beat Initiative in Belfast, UK, and WUK in Vienna, Austria. The Nordic Leaders’ group started as meeting a need of the leaders of the Nordic cultural centers within TEH. We work exclusively with TEH centres in European collaborations, as the TEH membership is a kind of quality guarantee when we send interns and trainees via EVS. We have sent EVS volunteers to REX in Belgrade, Serbia and Pekarna in Maribor, Slovenia. If you could dream a little - what would you like to use TEH and/or TNN for in the future?
Matti Kortelainen, why are you a member of Trans Europe Halles? – Mejeriet has been a member for a long time and the reasons for our membership is as varied as the activities of the organisations at our centre. There is a general interest in exchanges, particularly exchanges of experience and knowledge. As I see it, all exchange is positive. It makes us more open-minded and skilled in our work. There is a wide range of competences represented in the network, as the areas of expertise vary depending on the location of the centre. These differences make it interesting for us to share our knowledge and to evolve together with other members of TEH. Another outcome of a TEH membership and the presence in a European context is s stronger position in the local community.
– The Nordic Leaders’ group will expand, creating a European leaders’ network with the TEH Leaders Lab project. We will continue using TEH as a competencebuilding network and to create European cultural projects.Via the network, we can help and support each other and together we represent a powerful lobby in favour of independent culture centres all over Europe.
As I see it, all exchange is positive. It makes us more open-minded and skilled in our work.
TEH meetings are refreshing Konstepidemin (Göteborg, Sweden) - The Epidemic of Art – is a non-profit organisation providing studio facilities for over a hundred professional artists in different fields. The former Epidemic hospital houses sculptors, actors, writers, textile artists, designers, dancers, musicians, jewellery and ceramic artists, painters, performance artists, print makers, poets, filmmakers and others. Artists have been working here since 1987, in a park close to the city centre. The public activities include four exhibition spaces with Swedish as well as international exhibitors, scenes for music and theatre, guest studios and activities for youth and children. Seminars, events, and workshops are arranged regularly. All with the intention to “infect society with art”.
What’s the most interesting Nordic or European project that you have been involved in during the last three years? – This year we will be part of the Music Freedom Day initiated by ufaFabrik in Berlin. That will be our first participation in a TEH activity. Konstepidemin has a lot of other international contacts - the Guest studio involves artists from all over the world and various international residency networks. Hnoss, the jewellery gallery, is an international exhibition space that also arranges seminars and workshops with lecturers from all over the world. If you could dream a little – how would you like to use Trans Europe Halles and/ or Trans Nordic Net in the future? – I would like the Artists-in-Residency project to develop according to the needs and terms of the artists more than the funding organisation. Also finding exchange possibilities for performances and concerts for more specialised art forms. For example: there is an experimental jazz club, Brötz, now at our centre, with ambitions to make more international exchanges and create a meeting place at Konstepidemin for this kind of music. The Nordic net is good, we share some important issues, but considering time and funding, I think it is more convenient to act during the regular TEH meetings.
Mona Wallström, why did you become a member of Trans Europe Halles? – We joined the network to compare our experiences and discuss with fellow centres. There are only a few independent cultural organisations in Sweden. We have a huge need for development and to get some perspective on our organisation. We obtained this through contacts within TEH. We also got in contact with the Swedish independent cultural centres as they also attend the important TEH meetings. The meetings are always fruitful and we return back home, refreshed and full of ideas for our centre. We are also very interested in the development of an Artists-in-Residency network with TEH members.
The meetings are always fruitful and we return back home, refreshed and full of ideas for our centre.
Exchanges and support Culturen (Västerås, Sweden) is the self-proclaimed “house where everything happens”. It is a venue where art house cinema, theatre groups, experimental music collectives, local radio producers, art exhibitions, conferences, café visitors, college students, circus performers and many more share the same roof. The 4200m2 building was originally part of the city’s historically important metal works. In the year 2000 it started its transformation to become a space where culture meets technology and 600 000 screws and 1300 000 kilogrammes of plaster later, Culturen is now a meeting place for hundreds of thousands of yearly visitors and participants.
What’s the most interesting Nordic or European project that you have been involved in during the last three years? – We have not had any international projects during my time at 4e teatern (one of Culturen’s member organisations), and as we are new in the network we have not been able to participate in any TEH projects yet. The TEH meeting in Leipzig was great - it was nice to meet people working in a situation like our own. I realized how many things we have in common and that other people struggle with similar problems as us. It is good just meeting and discussing issues or ideas; you can refine your own thoughts and get support from people that can relate to your situation. Besides that, it is important that we take time to get out of our daily environment and see what is going on around us, and how we can work together with common tasks. If you could dream a little – what would you like to use Trans Europe Halles and/or Trans Nordic Net for in the future?
Erica Björck, Why are you a member of Trans Europe Halles? – I have just recently been appointed the TEH delegate task and I really look forward to be working with the network. The biggest benefits, as I see it, would be the possibility of exchanges of events and productions. A membership can in that way provide for a larger multitude for our audience, enabling us to show art and culture from other places. The exchange of staff between centres all over Europe is also a great privilege and I would really like to go working in another centre.
– I think that cooperation between the Nordic centres is a good idea, especially to enable the coordination of our work in cultural politics. We are more powerful together and there are many common questions we can address. I would like to do exchanges of productions. We work mainly with plays for youth and children, and in Leipzig I met an actor from a children’s theatre group in Berlin that wants to come to show their work on our stage. It is contacts like these I am hoping for, and at the same time to create projects where we can make productions together with professionals from other centres. We are a touring theatre group but we are now trying to improve our local stage at Culturen and fill our programme with great content, both with local and international productions.
A membership can provide for a larger multitude for our audience, enabling us to show art and culture from other places.
Sharing experiences Röda Sten (Göteborg, Sweden) is a centre for contemporary art and cultural expression based in an old boiler house. The buildings five exhibition rooms have shows all year round. There is a vibrant creative workshop with activities for children and youth, as well as a restaurant and a lounge area where visitors are welcome to read publications from various art institutions and magazines on the subjects of art, architecture and culture. Röda Sten has become a meeting place for people of all ages from different parts of the world, and its international orientation has drawn considerable interest from far beyond the city of Göteborg.
What is the most interesting Nordic or European project you have been involved in during the last three years? – Changing Room has been very important to us. Two of our staff members have been on exchanges - one at Main d’Oeuvres in St Ouen, France, and one at Verkatehdas in Hämeenlinna, Finland. We hosted a person from Germany and I went to the Leaders Retreat. As a leader, I have found the Nordic Leaders’ group very helpful. There I have found my colleagues and have been able to share their experiences. If you could dream a little - what would you like to use TEH and/or TNN for in the future? – I would like to see a larger number of centres represented in the network, and a broader geographical spread. The network should continue the work that has helped professionalize the independent cultural work as the Changing Room project did. I think that together we can find a way to refine the independent cultural sector.
Mia Christersdotter, why are you a member of Trans Europe Halles? – In TEH we found our colleagues, people that work in a similar way as ourselves. There are not so many of us in Sweden. For us the membership is more about professional exchange than artistic work, to exchange experiences concerning the operation of large cultural centers. Even though the artistic content is different, the similarities are many and we can support each other in our different cultural and political environments. I personally appreciate the informal tone between members. This is something unique in our line of work, and it makes everybody feel welcome.
I personally appreciate the informal tone between members. This is something unique in our line of work, and it makes everybody feel welcome.
A connection to Europe Not Quite (Fengersfors, Sweden) is an artist-run cooperative founded in 2002. The idea is to make it possible for artists crafters, designers and other creative people to live from their art. Not Quite has 45 members and together they manage projects, produce exhibitions and create a common brand. As part of the mission to make art meet its audience, there are also exhibitions and concerts, a shop and a café. The organisation is directed by its members, making it expand into new fields within the creative sector as new members join. Not Quite is situated in the old paper mill of Fengersfors, a village with 600 inhabitants, with a lot of space and the possibility to focus far away from the stressful city life.
What’s the most interesting Nordic or European project that you have been involved in during the last three years? – We have not been part of any European projects these last years but we have been interested in the creation of an AIR (Artists-in-Residence) network within TEH. We started last year by inviting Marta Jonville from Bordeaux. Marta and I met at a TEH meeting in Cracow and she was our first artist in residence at Not Quite. She is now helping in finding artists that could make use of our competences and context. We have also made contact with the Nordic centers of TEH and it is really nice to be able to discuss ideas and plan for projects together. If you could dream a little – what would you like to use Trans Europe Halles and/or Trans Nordic Net for in the future?
Karl Hallberg, why are you a member of Trans Europe Halles? – We wanted to find out how international work could be of benefit to the development of our organization. We wanted to connect our small village to Europe and work with international projects to get new ideas and more energy into the old paper mill. Connections to a larger, European context are also essential for our members to find clients and buyers of their work. We joined TEH to find partners in projects and exchanges. When we went to our first meetings we found out that we needed colleagues – people with whom we could discuss our work without having to explain all the issues of being independent and of using old industrial buildings again and again. We have a lot in common and it was fantastic to be able to skip the explaining and start working.
– We hope to gain more knowledge and experience of international work in our field, and use TEH to take a step further towards a more professional direction. We would like to progress in our public work and make exhibitions and collaborations in other parts of Europe. I think a Nordic network is a good idea and I am looking forward to participating. TEH can achieve a lot in facilitating for the hard working devotees of independent culture.
We have a lot in common and it was fantastic to be able to skip the explaining and start working.
NOT QUITE www.notquite.se
A platform for cultural competences Huset (Århus, Denmark) is a cultural and activity house with a variety of workshops open for everyone. There is for instance a graphic workshop and a digital print, a dark room and a metal and wood workshop. As an organisation, Huset has existed since 1972, and today its visitors consists of students, artists, children, senior citizens, and designers, both amateur and professional, from all over the world. In 2012, Huset’s workshops will move into the premises of “Godsbanen”, a 10.000 m2 big, old freight yard in Århus that is being transformed into a production centre for literature, visual arts and stage arts.
What’s the most interesting Nordic or European project that you have been involved in during the last three years? – During the last years, all our energy has been going into surviving as a cultural centre and transforming the organisation to be a part of a bigger multicultural centre in the old freight yard of Århus. If you could dream a little – what would you like to use Trans Europe Halles and/or Trans Nordic Net for in the future? – We are dreaming about picking up the fantastic collaboration we had with the network and I want to look into how a non-commercial culture centre can be organised. Another important part would be creating a platform for cultural competences across all borders and disciplines.
European networks are fantastic! I think it is good to exchange ideas, thoughts and staff between cultural centres. Ruth Morell, why are you a member of Trans Europe Halles? – This is not easy for me to answer, as I have been the director for two years and not participated in a meeting yet. I can say that European networks are fantastic! I think it is good to exchange ideas, thoughts and staff between cultural centres. The history of centres housing in old factories fits us well and we have been very active in the network in the past.
We can make a difference Parkteatret Scene (Oslo, Norway) is based in the oldest, still functioning cinema of Norway, in a part of Oslo that was developed in the 1880’s on the basis of city ideals from Berlin and Paris. Since the beginning of the 1990’s, the area has been revived and is now the most vibrant part of the city. The philosophy of Parkteatret Scene is to give priority to non-commercial, high quality music, theatre and art. The venue has become the natural choice for many artists performing new music in Oslo, and the stage frequently hosts festivals, such as the Oslo World Music Festival, Nordic Reggae Week, Europride and the Norwegian Festival of Documentary Film.
What’s the most interesting Nordic or European project that you have been involved in during the last three years? – We have been running our own projects, one is called Aurora Borealis and it was an attempt to connect the southern parts of the Nordic and Baltic countries with the arctic parts of Europe. We made a number of activities and there are a lot more possibilities to explore. Right now we are involved in a project with Latvia that is developing in an interesting way. We were unfortunately not part of Changing Room, as Norway is not part of the European Union, but the contents of that project correspond to the reasons why we joined the network. If you could dream a little – what would you like to use Trans Europe Halles and/or Trans Nordic Net for in the future?
Pål Steigan, why are you a member of Trans Europe Halles? – We joined TEH to get in touch with like-minded people. There are not many examples of our kind of centre in Norway, as we are an independent stage with little public funding but still not entirely commercial. Through TEH we found colleagues and could exchange experiences of running a cultural centre. By connecting with Europe we can pick up trends and movements that eventually will come to Norway. It is inspiring to share the ideas that are developed in the European context. The possibility of joining projects on a multinational level was appealing, although it has happened to a smaller extent than we hoped when we joined in 2007.
– I am looking forward to the expansion of Changing Room and the application to the EU Culture Programme that will take TEH to a higher level. I think this is a big step forward in playing a bigger role in the European community. I would say that the network has the potential to take on bigger projects and to leave much bigger footprints in the public space, the politics and in community development. Our competence in making old industrial buildings into cultural centres is useful. We could compile our knowledge, map our competences and start working with raising the awareness in society about this. Together we are a unique expert resource on the European level in the sphere of city development through art and culture. It is a fact that we raise the quality of the area where we operate. Parkteatret has gained some understanding of this value; it is obvious that the area that was inactive and unattractive when we started our centre now is one of the liveliest places of the city. Together we posses an enormous positive asset that is valuable to the community. The current economical crisis will last for a long time and our competence can be of great significance to society. We can make a difference.
Together we are a unique expert resource (...) of city development through art and culture. www.parkteatret.no
Connections to other centres Arena Vestfossen (Vestfossen, Norway) is an artist-run cultural centre founded in 2004. At the moment it consists of nine galleries, a black box theatre, five studios and production facilities for dance and performance. Together with their partners, Arena Vestfossen works towards the common goal to change the area around Vestfossen and take it out of the decay of its industrial past. Ever since the start it has been important for Arena Vestfossen that the programme should reflect the centre’s aim of building a strong, international profile. Nevertheless, it is equally important to continue to be an arena open to local artists that makes a difference to the local community.
What’s the most interesting Nordic or European project that you have been involved in during the last three years? – We have not been active enough in TEH projects but we have had some direct connections with Röda Sten (Göteborg, Sweden) that have been constructive and interesting. The direct, personal contacts that we have had through the network have been more interesting for us than staff exchanges as we do not have an administration. If you could dream a little – what would you like to use Trans Europe Halles and/or Trans Nordic Net for in the future? – I hope we will collaborate more with the Nordic countries, the proximity makes such co-operations easy to manage. We would like to engage in a EU-project with two other countries to make exchanges of exhibitions and for the development of our artistic content. There are good facilities for hosting artists at our center and we would like more artistic exchanges. It would be great to find similar centers to work with towards a common goal.
Rune Guneriussen, why are you a member of Trans Europe Halles? – TEH was looking for new members when the coordination office contacted us. We were interested and found an obvious connection to our own centre in the ideas of giving old factories new life. This was in 2005, when we were newly established and wanted to see how others in the same field were working in order to get ideas for our own operation. Our expectations were fulfilled even though many of the TEH members worked in other ways, for example with their performing art activities.
We found an obvious connection to our own centre in the ideas of giving old factories new life.
[ arena ] v e s t f o s s e n www.arenavestfossen.com
Advice and competence Tou Scene (Stavanger, Norway) is an art space located in a former brewery. The buildings have been the site of artistic activities since 2001, and in 2005 the centre re-opened after a comprehensive refurbishment. The 2000 m2 space consists of areas for the public and work spaces for artists and companies. Tou Scene focuses on experimental and young arts and aims to stimulate the exchange of ideas and knowledge between artists and other groups of the community on a global scale. The venue is located in a part of town that is subject to a long-term plan of renovation. Tou Scene is regarded as a key in this new urban development.
What’s the most interesting Nordic or European project that you have been involved in during the last three years? – We have managed our own projects in our line of work: production and development of performing arts for touring in Norway and internationally. Through contacts from TEH, we have had very good exchanges with Stanica in Zilina, Slovakia and Pro Rodopi Art Centre in Bostina, Bulgaria, consisting of longer residencies and shows. Some of our other big projects would be the residency of Music Theatre Transparent from Belgrade, Serbia, and the collaboration with the Inbal Pinto dance collective from Israel. They developed a new piece together with the producers and musicians of Stavanger. If you could dream a little – what would you like to use Trans Europe Halles and/or Trans Nordic Net for in the future?
Per-Arne Alstad, why are you a member of Trans Europe Halles? – We find it very interesting to speak with others in similar situations as our own and who work in the same way. In Norway there are not so many other places that we can compare ourselves with. It is nice to experience that we have colleagues. The activities of the centres may be different, but the similarities make it helpful to discuss different solutions and ways of operation. It is a reassuring feeling to be in a big network with people who are familiar with our kind of work. We had thought that the membership would have meant participation in projects and exchange of productions but the relations to comparable centres is reason enough to stay members of the network. We are now in an expanding phase and have not had the possibility to invest in projects with TEH.
– We are now expanding, making our production five times bigger, and in this process we need advice and competence that we are likely to find amongst the members of TEH. We also wish to exchange finished productions with members to a larger extent than before. The Nordic countries have a lot of laws, rules and other conditions in common. We would use our Nordic contacts to exchange experiences in building up structures as administration and logistics. As we are expanding, we need ideas of how we can do this in an effective and hopefully less painful way.
It is nice to experience that we have colleagues. www.touscene.com