Berlin visit 3-5 May 2013 Part II

While visiting NewThinking, Andrea and I bumped into her colleague Andreas Gebhard, who, similarly to Andrea, was also very actively involved in the orgainising of re:publica conference, to commence the following week. We engaged in conversation, and Andreas invited me to a two-day workshop on cultural entrepreneurship starting the next day, called WSLab. The workshop was one of the preliminary events leading up to the conference. I arrived at Station Berlin – a renovated industrial premises – without having a clear idea of what our task would be, and no idea regarding who else would be participating. When I got to the venue, the preparations for the following week’s conference were already well under way, with boxes being assembled, placed on top of one another all over the spacious warehouse hall.

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The workshop was spread over two rooms in a different hall. Various sheets – to be filled in later – decorated the walls and the desks, felt tip pens and markers were in abundance. The beginning of the workshop was unconventional in the sense that we omitted introductions – so up to the point, about an hour in, when we sat down in alternating small groups to brainstorm together, we had no idea who everyone else was or why they were here, but this in my opinion was beneficial to the working process. (We later had plenty of time to get to know each other better during the end-of-the day beer garden event, where we joined forces with another pre-re:publica workshop).

The initial, warm-up rounds began with discussing ad defining creativity and the significance of creativity in one’s personal and professional life, as well as in relation to communities and society. It was from here that the workshop gradually shifted to more focused group work around more specifically defined questions, but never moving too far from the central question, namely:  ‘How could we enable and promote creative spaces to influence global action?‘ The workshop used so-called open storytelling as method, building on the stages of (1) empathy; (2) define; (3) ideate; and (4) test. It seemed to be an efficient method of gradually drawing up precise scenarios from a bunch of vague ideas at the start.

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The workshop continued the following day (when I was no longer able to attend), and the results were later presented at re:publica.

Berlin visit 3-5 May 2013 Part I

Since my first visit to Berlin in September 2012 consisted only of one evening and one full day, and I used most of that time to observe All2gethernow’s music conference at Noisy Musicworld, I decided to return to do some further exploration of the city and its music heritage, as well as to become more familiar with Newthinking and All2gethernow. My host Andrea Goetzke made sure that I was able to do both.

In particular, upon Jez Collins’ recommendation, I was interested in visiting the Ramones Museum (truly amazing experience, especially for a Ramones fan like myself!) and participating in Fritz Music Tours. The latter on this occasion included a two-hour tour of Hansa Studios, led by Thilo (previously interviewed by Jez), which was then followed by a bus tour primarily centred around places related to David Bowie, as well as Iggy Pop, Nick Cave and others. Since Jez already reported on both the museum and the tour, I just want to mention how fascinating I found the sense of place the tour managed to convey – a sense of Berlin as a city for music making and creative inspiration sought out by people coming from various other parts of the world, both in the past, i.e. the Wall era, and in the present. Thilo’s amazing collection of photographs, which he showed us one by one as we moved from one room of Hansa Studios to another, or his demonstration of the Studio 1 mixing desk through playing music that was recorded at Hansa (Bowie’s Baal, U2’s One) made these locations feel less like the locus of heritage, and more a continuous, living source of exciting cultural activity.

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This sense was reaffirmed by a Bowie-themed exhibition (A Tribute to David Bowie HAUPTSTRASSE. The Berlin Years 1978-1978) at the small Egbert Bacqué Contemporary Art Gallery, where the bus tour ended. We were treated to an exciting introduction by Bacqué, the exhibition’s curator. As we learnt, upon hearing about Bowie’s new album, announced on the 8th January 2013 along with the release of a video for the new song “Where Are We Now” – a retrospective of Bowie’s Berlin years, which was in fact frequently referred to during the bus tour –, Bacqué immediately decided to alter the previously planned spring programme for the gallery and organise instead a homage to the artist. Photographer Joachim Seinfeld was commissioned to take photos of various sites significant in the Bowie story; besides these photos and the accompanying explanations, the exhibition also featured the work of various local artists inspired by David Bowie.ImageImage

Later I also spent some time walking around the Kreuzberg area, observing the variety of subcultural venues, and visiting places like the refugee tents in Oranienplatz – see the attached photos.

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Image(To be continued with a report on the 4th May WSLab workshop organised by Newthinking)

Documenting the sounds of Berlin.

Laura Dawson is a graduate of the Birmingham School of Media who specialises in radio (that’s a word which encompasses everything from old-fashioned broadcasting ‘over the air’ to podcasting and sound sculptures nowadays). Laura is also a big fan of house music and a skilled documentarist.

Like the best artists and thinkers, she decided to bring together her enthusiasm, skill and knowledge and has produced a range of work that deserves to be heard by IMMHIVE project partners as well as a wider audience.

Laura set herself a task for her final year project of visiting Berlin and ‘investigating’ its most famous dance clubs. The portrait that she paints is a real labour of love and truly engaging.

For those of us involved in this project, it offers a perspective on the importance of music culture and economy to the identity of a city like Berlin – for natives and visitors both.

As an innovative piece of sound work, it indicates how we might capture these insights as well as communicating with a wide set of stakeholders about the value of music and ways of making sense of it.

Laura’s adventures in Berlin are captured in a post for Igloo magazine and samples of her sound productions can be heard on her Mixcloud page.

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THE QUEST FOR PAID WORK: (MAKING A) LIVING ON THE EDGE – ANDREA GOETZKE

I’ve been doing a series of “interviews” about how people are “Making A Living On The Edge” for the Edgeryders project of the Council of Europe and thought this one with our fellow IMMHVE participant Andrea would be worth cross-posting here:

Andrea Goetzke and myself are both participating in the Innovative Media and Music Heritage Impacting Vocational Education project to which she has brought a wealth of experience. In this video and “interview” Andrea gets down to the nitty gritty of making a living in the “creative industries” through explaining her own experiences and strategies.

Andrea is part of a for-profit company in Berlin called newthinking which works in the field of digital culture and society, doing web development and organising events like the big social media conference re:publica amongst other things. She now works part time for newthinking so that she can do other things as well – she is on the board of an association called all2gethernow, an event series for new strategies in the music business and music culture which aims to put the idea of music as culture back into the discourse. all2gethernow operates sometimes on a paid basis when there are projects such as one in association with the city of Berlin in September as part of Berlin Music Week, which will be a day of workshops for musicians. She also does things without any renumeration like her monthly radio show, organising a music festival which pays for itself but not for staff, as well as organising occasional concerts which pay something but don’t financially compensate for the time invested.

Andrea is trying to find a balance between doing things she finds interesting and making money. She says that it’s not an easy balance, but she feels lucky as she has had the opportunity to make money with her previous job, and she still has some money left which enables her to subsidise the activities that she’s interested in. This has done this on purpose by working longer on the recent job to buy time later to do things and be a bit more experimental, which is something she thinks is common amongst people who want to make things happen – “the idea of making money in one field to spend in another is one way to do it, because if you try to make money with everything you do, you are very dependent.” If you want to be free in what you do, you have to make the money elsewhere, she adds. She tries never to sell herself for something she finds completely useless, but has taken on less interesting projects as they have allowed her to do something else.

She is also a co-owner of newthinking and the company takes a similar approach too. In the past they have taken on things which were no so profitable but had a high content value, but it’s only possible if other projects bring the cash in, so staff and everything can be paid for. Her lifestyle is based on low expense which means this strategy can work, but Andrea is aware that this is possible because she doesn’t have a family.

“Making enough time”

Sometimes it is better to invest a little in a project yourself than to look for funding, she says, as sometimes more time is spent trying to fund raise than on the project itself. From the experience of all2gethernow she has seen that it is very difficult to build something from a cultural, political interest and it make it financially sustainable. Consequently it is very ad-hoc, bringing people in to work on projects once they have been approved financially, because they have not been able to sustain a permanent structure. They would have to start a service, like consulting, to be able to do so.

Andrea reiterates that she is not interested in making lots of money, that she wants to “make enough time” to do the things she’s interested in, and create a sustainable life. She considers herself to be in a privileged position as she can think about and do things she cares about and knows there are many people who don’t know how to do it, or can’t do it because they have a lot of children and despite working hard, still don’t earn enough money to make ends meet. Her way of living is more important to her than having a lot of money or the amount of goods she can buy.

Many needs and desires have been created artificially in society, she feels, meaning that people think they need to have a car, lots of electronic equipment, have expensive holidays – but they are things which can be solved in a way which involves far less money, people could live with less money if things were better organised.

Andrea sees that there is a lot of money in certain areas and much less in others and oftentimes, thinking of the processes gentrification and city development, creatives and people who do things are being used and are necessary for others to make lots of money. There is a question of whether money is really being distributed fairly and how can the system be structured so there is a much more equal distribution. Concepts like a basic income or regulation of the amount a company or person can accumulate need investigating, and although this is theoretically done through the tax system we probably need more systemic changes, she concludes.

Las Dos Cervecitas

Edit

The Kpacita team, @margaojedaIsrael Sánchez and myself joined Paul & Jez (AKA las dos cervecitas) in Berlin as we had been unable to get to the first meeting in Birmingham, to take advantage of the programme they had put together and to talk projects.

I recorded a video of Paul & Jez talking about their experience of Berlin and also about one of the ideas we had discussed, Kfé Innovación. Kfé is an experimental methodology for debate and citizen action in which simultaneous meetings take place in venues worldwide and experiences are shared via social media and the use of hashtags to ensure communication and knowledge transeference. Anybody can host a “Kfé” following some simple guidelines (and we encourage you to do so!)

Here’s the video then – the quality isn’t so good due to the lighting in the venue and it’s unedited so you can enjoy it in all the original glory (bear in mind it was filmed just after the presentation by Paul & Jez and on the last evening of a very intense few days in Berlin 😉 ).

 

 

Las Dos Cervecitas from chris pinchen on Vimeo.

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!)

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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 http://www.ukmusic.org/assets/media/UK%20Music%20-Music%20Tourism.pdf 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.

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All2gethernow

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.

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