The creativity and culture sector in Italy is almost as important as the Automotive Industry and generates more than the telecommunications industry.
This was declared in the Italia Creativa study conducted by Ernst & Young, according to which, in 2014, the creative sector generated an economic value of 46.8 billion euro, 2.9% of gross domestic product, employing just short of a million people (3.8% of the workforce of our country) with the percentage of young people between 15 to 39 years old and women in line with European averages.
These figures not only bode well, but from our point of view, trigger a reflection on the spaces dedicated to cultural fruition and creativity and the entities that encourage them. What roles have they taken on in recent years and what is their weight in terms of employment and turnover? Given that we do not love to sing and dance about it ourselves, from today we have begun a collection of interviews, suggestions, tips and chats with those who, in Italy and in Europe have undertook and are undertaking this journey. Opening doors every day.
Let’s start with Germany, which has the lowest youth unemployment rate in Europe, by putting a magnifying glass on Berlin, where in 2005, Matthias Krause and Patrice Lux founded Neu west Berlin, a project with temporary residence in Kreutzberg, but in constant evolution, following the philosophy of occupying urban wastelands. We brought Matthias to Bergamo to present their idea to the working group working the project Back to the Future and took advantage of the occasion to briefly interview him.
Can you tell us how Neu West Berlin was born?
It all started with the initiative of my partner Patrice who, in 1989, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, began collecting large pieces (we’re also talking about monoliths of 40 tons of concrete!). Since then she began to move them and transfer them to the different sites all over the city, starting with courtyards of abandoned buildings, immediately attracting the interest of artists (some who were very well established).
We currently occupy a space of 1000 square meters in Kreuzberg. And do not think for a minute that it’s big: the last one we had was a 10 story building that before us housed 300 offices! Neu West Berlin has always relied on the Berlin Wall and its evocative power, therefore it was natural, even a few years ago, to focus our attention on street and urban art. In recent years however we have been working on other channels, we welcome performances and artists from all around the world.
Can you explain your business model a little better for us?
The Neu West Berlin core team consists of four people working full-time on the project (I am one of them). Around this nucleus revolve around ten professionals who, for various reasons, work on different aspects such as fundraising and scouting for artists. Over the years, the project has gathered the support and enthusiasm of many people, which means we can also make use of a wider circle of partners and “friends” who propose projects that we end up accomplishing together.
What do we live on? The world “tour” of some pieces of the wall that offer for a considerable sum (for example, some are now on their way to Italy), the organization of events in our space (for which we often offer a catering service ), the renting of spaces for larger events or studies for work projects. We also use the services of established artists that sometimes subsidize their stay in our areas of emerging artists, the partnership with private companies (lately we have worked with Rosenthal ceramic factory that produced the scale reproductions of some of our pieces). We have not yet used public funds: our success, for now, is much owed to the ability to create enthusiasm, support and consensus to our activities.
One last key question: which legal status did you set up with?
To be honest we have several. We are a cultural association and manage the majority of our activities under this status. But 4 of our core team have also created a private company: it was necessary from the moment in which we started to deal with other private enterprises (from property owners with whom we sign lease agreements to trading partners).
From the beating heart of contemporary art, to one of the most loved holiday resorts in Italy by the Germans: from one common place to another, next time we will take you to Abano Terme, where the Cultural Association Khorakhanè is dismantling the stereotypes of rural Italy.