- Studies reveal that 90% of Berlin’s artists are impacted by old-age poverty
- Artist studios and free spaces for art are steadily disappearing
- 84% of Berlin’s gallery owners and art dealers say they wouldn’t open a new gallery today
Cultural places and a vibrant cultural scene are essential to maintaining innovative, successful urban development in Berlin. Yet, space in Berlin is getting scarcer and more expensive. How can public policymakers and the city support the drivers of culture and creativity? And what can private-sector businesses do to help maintain a city’s allure that’s extensively owed to its vibrant cultural life? These questions are currently sparking contentious debate not only in Berlin, but also in many of the world’s major cities. One forum for such dialog took place January 8 in Berlin when the Society of Friends of the Academy of Arts joined the Siemens Arts Program to host the 6th Capital Cultural Talk. Discussion centered on the banner theme of “Spaces for Culture”.
The podium panelists included artist Katharina Sieverding, the President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Hermann Parzinger, the former President of Berlin University of the Arts, Martin Rennert, and Matthias Sauerbruch of the Sauerbruch Hutton firm for architecture, urbanism and design. Among those attending in the audience were numerous Berlin artists and representatives from galleries, artists associations, and Berlin’s business world. After an almost two-hour discussion, moderator Stephan Frucht – Artistic Director of the Siemens Arts Program – summed up the demands facing public policymakers and the private sector.
Excerpt from the demands facing public policymakers, private-sector businesses, and civil society:
Berlin needs more free spaces for new as well as established artists. The city’s onward development as an urban area must allow and embrace the unregulated, the uncontrolled. There must be rights of first refusal for artists in the city center. Art also needs to sell in Berlin – so purchasing art must be incentivized by creating tax benefits. New requirements are needed for new building projects – building owners should offer 30% of the newly erected apartments at lower prices. Private-sector businesses should make studio space available at affordable prices. The dying-off of nightclubs must be prevented – the art scene and nightclubs go hand in hand, and form part of the city’s identity. Centers of arts should themselves become cities. Curating the outdoors – architecture alone cannot keep a city vibrantly alive. Museums and the creative scene must be more closely integrated with one another.
At end of the event, the Berlin artist Super Pop Boy called for society to look ahead and refocus more strongly on the future. Society should seek a place for the future, one that reflects today as well as tomorrow. He furthermore urged that art must relate to our lives today, and public policymakers should engage and devote greater attention to today’s art.
The artist Felix Stumpf added that, “Art is a yearning that doesn’t want to be controlled or commercially exploited. Art, with its energy, doesn't need these institutional thoughts."
Ute Weiss Leder of the Professional Association of Visual Artists Berlin (bbk berlin) made specific reference to the solutions her association has proposed.
Katharina Sieverding rounded out the discussion by paraphrasing the well-known saying: “Art is dead. Long live art!”
In the USA there is currently a lively discussion about the relationship of "STEM to. STEAM”, in other words whether or not schools should teach the “A” in “The Arts” as an integral part of human education. Advocates of STEAM argue that a well-rounded education for children should include art and music alongside the STEM subjects, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Artistic Director of the Carnegie Hall, Sir Clive Gillinson and the CEO of Siemens USA, Barbara Humpton spoke about artistic education in schools and the support of the arts and culture. We can learn a great deal, not only from music but from musicians too - that was the message from our interview with soloist Kristīne Balanas, who is herself actively involved in music and cultural outreach.
What influence does digitalization have on the music landscape? Artists earn around 0.006 cents per stream at Spotify. To earn the minimum wage of 1414 euros in Germany, an artist needs around 393,000 streams a month. Only when songs are streamed millions of times musicians can make a good living from their music (source).
After the #SiemensArtsProgram had started its own project in the field of digital music, we wanted to stick to the topic. We invited representatives from the arts, media and politics to a panel discussion in the Siemensstadt. The guests discussed how artists and labels deal with the changes in the production and distribution of music. Many musicians and smaller labels can only survive if they concentrate more on live concerts. On the other hand, thanks to streaming platforms, the artists reach music lovers all over the world. Niche music from Germany finds fans from Lagos to Seoul.
But just listen to the podcast yourself!