“Unfair and unbelievable!” are the words I have used the most today, along with the display of a sorry face. I know times are tough for everyone, I know times have always been tough in the arts an culture scene in general, but sometimes I still manage to be unpleasantly surprised.
The Weinmeisterhaus, the culture centre for children and young people in the Weinmeisterstraße 15 in Berlin Mitte will be sold. The house has a long history dating back to 100 years, but it is since the end of the 1990s a centre for cultural education of children and young people.
Besides workshops (ranging from dance, theatre, music, photography, video to clothing design), there are also “open” spaces, such as the darkroom and a “white room” (equipped with top of the line scanning and digital manipulation equipment). All is for free, in a very pleasant and inspiring environment.
I haven’t been living in Berlin for a very long time and I don’t get to go to the dark room as often as I’d like, but I have spent some time there. It’s not too common to see so many young people coming to the dark room to work on their pictures, and it is priceless to be able to work in a relaxed environment.
Not to mention that, from my own perspective, it is very hard to find free (or almost) public dark rooms in Berlin. There are a couple of labs, that however charge insane prices per hour. Hardly any photographer I know could afford that. Yes, being a poor artist is an annoying stereotype.
Why would the district parliament close down such a great facility? To be short, it has to do with major cuts that the authorities are going to implement (in line with the federal government’s (stupid) policy in a time of financial recession). The Weinmeisterhaus is only one of the numerous examples of cultural or art centers that will be hit by the budget cuts in Berlin, and thus will have to close down.
If a space like the Weinmeisterhaus is not deemed worth saving, if a space like that, where creativity and curiosity are encouraged, where cultural programs are successfully carried out by a group of dedicated people, why is anything else worth saving? It might sound like an extreme question. But really it is not.