Berlin (continued): I was a passenger…

Jez Collins continues the report on the Berlin mobility.

Cultural Spaces and Places

Taking its name from the third Eric B and Rakim LP, Let The Rhythm Hit Em is a mixed media exhibition being held at the rather imposing and impressive Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien.

The exhibition looks at the relationship of and between art and music. With over forty artists exhibiting there was a broad range of art on display some which grabbed me, others less so. I was really interested in the venue however. If I understood Nadine and Jana right, the venue has been ‘given over’ to arts and cultural organizations in Berlin to use as a exhibition and cultural space on what I understand to be no, or very low, rental charges. This allows for experimental rather than commercial interests to be at the forefront of programming.

Apologies to the artists for not noting their names down when taking the photos (the beer was strong!)



The exhibition is on until the 15th January

Heritage and Tourism

UK Music recently published a report into the economic value to the UK of music tourism Likewisem popular music is often used by agencies at national, regional and city level to illustrate the role it can play in social, cultural and economic well-being. Its importance can be illustrated by examples as varied as the Seattle Music ExperienceBritish Music Experience or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

A central aim of our Leonardo research project is to explore the place of music heritage in our partner cities, so we were really pleased to find Music-Tours Berlin which became a welcome part of our itinerary.

We signed up before we left England and opted to take the three hour bus tour, joined by our Spanish partners, Marga, Israel and Chris.

We met tour founder and guide Thilo Schmied outside of Hotel Adlon at 9am. Famous, as we were to find out, as a bolt hole of presidents, kings and princes and the King of Pop – Michael Jackson – and his son Prince, along with Paris and famously Blanket. For it was here that MJ dangled his son Blanket over the balcony to his fans and a rather large number of paparazzi. And so we kicked off our tour.

The tour took in the world famous Hansa Studio’s were Iggy Pop, David Bowie, U2 and countless others have recorded, the house Iggy and Bowie shared, the bar next door they drank in, some of Nick Caves hangouts, the site of Tresor, the home of Berlin techno as well other clubs that have given Berlin the unofficial club capital of the world title.  These are just a couple of the sites we saw but what really made the tour for me was Thilo’s personality, passion, knowledge, and pride in Berlin.

Thilo obviously knew the stories, the people and the history of the city and its music but his enthusiasm in making sure we also got to know some of this history left a lasting impression. It was so much more than just a list of places which would have been the easy, but boring, thing to do. It was easy to understand how music was entwined with the city’s history, no more so than in this interview with Thilo. I could easily travelled around with him all day, alas he had another group that afternoon.

523740-Thilomemory from BCMCR on Vimeo.

So what made him start the tour?

For Thilo, he was embedded in the music industry when he spotted an opportunity which he thought he could exploit by using his local knowledge. Working with a number of partners, Thilo is constantly changing, refining and creating new tours as he welcomes bookings.




Paul and I were invited to speak at the All2gethernow event that was taking place as part of the Berlin Music Days event. Our German partner, Andrea Goetzke, was responsible for helping to organize the event which also included the UK organization, Un-Convention, who organised the Un-Convention Factory.

All2gethernow brings together speakers from across the wide music spectrum, commercial and cultural, to discuss, share, meet and hear new ways of understanding music in the digital age.

The event was held at yet another amazing Berlin venue, Kater Holzig which in turn was the new site of the legendary Café 25 venue.

We had an ok turnout for our talk, I think there may have been some language difficulties, but it was good to start talking about our projects and practices outside of an academic audience.

The event also had some of our friends talking and presenting: John Robb, punk, journalist, print and online author; Steve Lawson, musician, and educator; and Ruth Daniel founder of Un-Convention.

We dipped in and out of the event as we were zig-zagging all over Berlin meeting interesting people, but what I saw I enjoyed and overall Berlin was a real eye opener for me. I think there is much here for the Leonardo project to learn and report on. The use of spaces and places, the support given by city and state agencies and the attitude of the people.

I’m sure we will be back.



Berlin Mobility – November 2011

Paul Long writes:

It is proving to be an interesting process getting to grips with a Leonardo project, let alone comprehending what is involved in ‘leading’ it.

At our inaugural group meeting in Birmingham in September, amongst many other things, we and our partners discussed:

i) How all mobilities need not involve every member in attendance.

ii) How the all2gethernow event in Berlin, involving Andrea Goetzke (of Newthinking Communications GmbH) offered an immediate chance to explore an important music-related activity in one of the partner cities.

As our Spanish partners of Kpacita were not able to join us in Birmingham but were up for a trip to Berlin (even if it proved too challenging to organise a whole group get-together), taking on our first mobility was an attractive proposition. Information available at the Berlin Music Commission gives the following facts and figure about the music business in the region of the German capital

1. There are over 2.100 companies with more than 16.000 employees.

2. About 1 billion Euro is made annually by the sector.

3. Big music companies like Universal Music Germany,DEAG, Sony Music Entertainment and EuroArts Medien are based in Berlin.

4. The ECHO Award, Berlin Music Week with music fair popkomm and Berlin Festival, Young Euro Classics, club transmediale (CTM) take place here.

5. The creative music scene is a pulse generator for the music economy.

6. There are over 250 live-locations, 130 national event- and promotion agencies and concert organizers.

7. Berlin has got an excellent infrastructure with more then 90 recording studios.

8. Renowned music universities like the »Hanns Eisler« and the »Universität der Künste« are located here.

9. The registered office of the most important networks and associations like Phono Verband, Club Commission, Label Commission and Berlin Music Commission are located in the capital city.

Without having to plan for a meeting with all partners what was valuable was thinking about how we might use our time constructively to cover some of the bases in the project and to explore what could be achieved in a mobility visit with a bit of research.

While we had a key contact in the form of Andrea Goetzke, she would be tied up with the all2gethernow event so we had to improvise a little. Luckily, through contacts established in Berlin by BCU colleagues involved in the Creative Metropoles project we were able to organise and explore a full itinerary. In this we were aided by Nina Lakeberg of Planet Modulor, Katrin Tobies of the Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Women’s Issues, and Nadine Riede of the Berlin Music Commission.

While we were not able to arrange mooted meetings with a representative of Flux Radio, Venture Village, Global Music Academy (as well as something to do with a Finnish-German collaboration on ‘Integration through Education’ mentioned by Nadia Riede), we ended up with a full-itinerary.

This is what it looked like:


16.30: JC/PL arrive Berlin

19.00: Planning meeting with Leonardo Partners (over dinner).


10.30-12.00: Visit to Hochschule der populären Künste FH University of Applied Sciences (HDPK).

14.00- 17.00: Visit to Planet Modulor and betahaus.

Evening: all2gethernow get-together at the Kater Holzig bar/Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em exhibition at Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien.


9.00-12.00: Music Heritage Tour of Berlin

19.00: JC/PL talk at all2gethernow 17




It was a great pleasure to spend the first evening meeting up with our partners from the Spanish organisation Kpacita.While Chris Pinchen (now Berlin-based) is English, Marga Ojeda and Israel Sanchez are natives of Seville (in between work in Catalonia).

As might be expected, we spent some time getting to know each other in a delightful cafe in Kreuzeberg, exploring the joys of translation and communication between Spaniards and English people located in a German city!

We shall encourage Marga and Israel to expand on their work and ideas elsewhere, in particular the exciting Kfé Innovación which has been described on Chris Pinchen’s blog.

Whether it was the heady atmosphere of Berlin or not, we hatched plots and found we had a lot in common and that the Leonardo project will be fertile ground for developing ideas.


Our first offiicial visit then was to the Hochschule der populären Künste FH University of Applied Sciences(HDPK) on Otto-Suhr-Allee. In response to my enquiry, Rektor Prof. Dr. Ulrich Wünsch assigned Prof. Robert Lingnau, Head of Audio and Music Production Study Program, to meet us and to show us around the site.

The hdpk is an officially state-approved private university of applied science which offers accredited study programs in the fields of the media and music business. The programs last for six or seven semesters and are practically oriented, qualifying the graduate for a wide range of employment fields in the many branches of the creative industries.

The hdpk opened in April 2010 alsthough it is supported by an educational institution which has been in existence for 16 years,  founded as a spin-off from a 25-year–old company in the music industry.

Professor Lingnau has composed pieces for the German state broadcaster ARD, BBC Big Band, BuJazzO, Deutscher Filmpreis,the Berlin theatre Friedrichtstadtpalast, hr-Bigband, Metropole Orchestra, Barbara Schöneberger, ThyssenKrupp AG, Jiggs Whigham and has produced many other recordings and productions with and for numerous German and international groups, companies and broadcasters. He is an author and the presenter of approx. 100 radio programs for the rbb (Berlin and Brandenburg state broadcaster) and is involved in one of the (many) jazz festivals that take place in the city.

Professor Lingnau was a gracious guide and we met with students (hearing them perform) as well as several other members of staff. In pedagogical terms, we had much in common and hope to develop contacts between our institutions as well as in and around the Leonardo project.

Intriguingly, one of the tutors in songwriting, Nikko Weidmann, as we later learnt, is involved in some kind of music archival activity that we are to follow-up! As he was involved in a songwriting class, we thought it best to let him get on with his work rather than distract him with our mission.

Another of the tutors at HDPK is René Rennefeld . He’s a music entrepreneur who manages the famous Hansa music studios and who has a hand in the nhow berlin, an intriguing mix of music studio and hotel! Like most people we met, Rennefeld was gracious enough to giev of his time and to speak to us on camera in reponse to a number of questions. Here’s his response to the idea of celebrating music heritage:

523820-ReneHeritageVID00348 from BCMCR on Vimeo.

René Rennefeld speaks!

These staff members, bestride industry and education speak to a suggestive set of relations for our project. Clearly, and while there is much more to discover, such an institution has a lot to offer us for thinking about our project and the kinds of connections it can make across business, vocational education and issues and practices in heritage.

Planet Modulor

We were invited to Planet Modulor as guests of Nina Lakeberg who has worked in the Creative Metropoles project and aided in the research and writing of a recently published report on the creative industries in the Midlands town of Wolverhampton.

Create Berlin gives this very useful insight into what this site in Moritzplatz ‘does’ or is:

”With the project Planet Modulor, we are experimenting with the prototype of a place where merchandising, manual crafts and services are productively joined in order to bring to fruition creative, cultural and social projects”, says Christof Struhk, the founder of Modulor.

The prime mover of the project is Modulor Material Total. This company, with its globally unique product mix, is moving together with more than 30 partners into a 11,000 sq. meter space in the “Aufbau Haus” building. All the members of Planet Modulor are joined in their dedication to providing a quality-based alternative to purely consumerism-oriented shopping centres. The visitor experiences the actual “making” here and is himself inspired to do the same.

Part of the comprehensive product and services mix in Planet Modulor includes work shops for lasers, milling, wood, synthetics and metal work; film/foil technology, mosaics and model making, a textile showroom, a sewing institute, a wall paper manufacturer, a printing business, a book store, a furniture store, a manufacturer of high-quality interior furnishings, an audio system manufacturer, a specialty store for Latin-American products including a delicatessen, photographers, an analogue photo processing lab, a globally unique walk-in large format camera, several studios, a project room for contemporary art, a kindergarten on the roof, a youth integration and training centre as well as a variety of teaching rooms like, e.g., a workshop for learning goldsmith techniques – just to name a few.

We took an insightful tour of the space under Nina’s guidance and later headed to the betahaus space.

Located on Prinzessinnenstraße betahaus is a flexible working space where over 200 professionals from various fields a located: graphic designers, programmers, photographers, architects, designers, academics, lawyers, NGO’s, translators, video artists, journalists and bloggers. This is the kind of environment that is familiar to anyone who has sought out the focal points of the new creative economy in post-industrial cities.

The betahaus blog gives an interesting accocunt of the space and some of the start-ups that have taken place there.

Jez Collins takes up the story in the next blogpost but for the moment it is worth noting that mobilities clearly eed some thought and planning as all of the sites we will visit over the term of the project have much to offer and much to discover. As I suggested, getting to grips with this process is interesting although thoroughly stimulating.


Here’s a pleasant insight into the dynamics of Berlin in the form of a short film.

The creator is ‘Pilpop’ who writes:

I dedicate this film to Berlin where I have been living for 19 years now. While the architecture of Berlin is stunningly beautiful, only its inhabitants make Berlin the unique city that it is. In every corner there is something new to discover. And the best thing to do is to film it. 

Filmed with my beloved Sony HC9. Edited with Sony Vegas Pro 9.The miniature effect is called tilt-shift, which originates from a particular lens that was used to photograph architecture. The miniature effect is a by-product of that. It can also be achieved by digital postprocessing.

 Music: “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” by Franz Liszt

Little Big Berlin from pilpop on Vimeo.