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RECOVERY AND PRESERVATION

Speech by the former Berlin State Secretary for Culture Tim Renner on September 23rd, 2023 at the 30th anniversary of the Atelierhaus:



30 years of Mengerzeile, that's not just nice, that's great, because that's not a given.

30 years of Mengerzeile did not fall from heaven, they were dreamed of, they were fought for, they were tricked, they were smiled upon, they were negotiated hard.

The story of Mengerzeile begins in a different Berlin. In a Berlin that deindustrialized in East and West because subsidies and state-controlled markets disappeared. There was suddenly plenty of space and ideas too. Unfortunately, not only artists had such ideas, but also politicians. Politicians, whether SPD or CDU, fell into delusions of grandeur after reunification, dreamed of a metropolis of five million people in the heart of Europe, if not the entire world, and thus put the city and its citizens incredibly in debt.

At the beginning of this millennium, Berlin was bankrupt and about to fall into federal administration.

It was artists like you who gave the city back dignity and a future. “Poor but sexy” means you. Culture and creativity saved Berlin. As the capital of the visual arts, as the capital of music and clubs, as the new hotspot of the global film industry, Berlin became important and therefore attractive.

This makes it also attractive for investors. The old basic rule applied: first the artists come, then the clubs, finally the galleries and then the investors, then the artists, the clubs and the galleries leave.

That's exactly what would have happened here. The owner Carla Riedel died and would have thought it was great that a place of creativity, first from 1908 to 1956, pianos, then a warehouse of the VEB Deutsche Schallplatte, could remain a place of creative production through the artists of the Mengerzeile.

The heirs found a buyer in Christoph Höhne in 2013, and in the form of the Mengerzeile artists, he probably came as an unexpected surprise. The plan was actually the usual one: quit, renovate, rent three times as much and thus gentrify.

But the calculation was not made with Eva, Ilona and Co. They set out and quickly found their way to BzStR Rainer Hölmer, the State Secretary for Culture, the studio representative, founded an action group called ABBa of the threatened artists' houses in Berlin and much more - in other words, they triggered a tsunami using Mengerzeile as an example.

What was interesting and striking was how the Mengerzeile representatives did it: They didn't work through clichés - here the evil real estate mogul, there the honorable artists, but rather explained the problem clearly and looked for solutions and for these solutions Allies.

Oh man, how I would like to see more of this Mengerzeile spirit in public discourse right now. Because unlike constant polarization, open-ended, persistent dialogue with everyone leads to results - otherwise we wouldn't be able to celebrate 30 years of Mengerzeile today!

What they did perfectly in Mengerzeile was trying very carefully to understand the needs of the other side. Okay, someone had paid a lot of money for their house and had to earn it back somehow - at least that.

People looked into how things had worked out in other cases and soon found the principle of foundation. They don't have to earn money back quickly, but can invest in the long term as long as it meets the donor's purpose.

One was also found, but it didn't find the owner - or vice versa. The normal reflex would now be to demonize the owner - the solution was so close and he was potentially to blame for the problem - that doesn't get you any further in terms of the solution, on the contrary it hardens the fronts.

Instead of escalating, a new solution was tried - also with the help of the city. Not by simply socializing your own problems and having the rent paid, as happened in another case, but by trying to buy yourself and have banks protect you with public guarantees. That wasn't possible back then - today there is a fund of 15 million at the IBB - a collateral victory for Mengerzeile. The Mengerzeile activists remained undaunted and continued to talk cooperatively with the owner and the district. Above all, with the help of BzStR Rainer Hölmer, who did not leave their side, ways were found to secure the studios and cheap rents, enable the owner to quickly implement his plans, also grant him concessions and ultimately, with the artistic use, brought in another location argument for his tenants. The world is not black and white, politics is not deaf, artists are not incapable of compromise.


Peoples of the world, look at Mengerzeile!

Mengerzeile - stay as an example of how community and society works!