Artists struggle with rent rise in Berlin - GulfToday

Artists struggle with rent rise in Berlin

Berlin Art first pic

Sebastian Koerbs poses in his studio at the "Treptow Ateliers" artist colony in Berlin. AFP

Outside a Berlin block of art studios called Treptow Ateliers, a cemetery has popped up with half a dozen crosses marked "Demolition" or "Expulsion."

The small "graveyard" is an installation in Berlin by painters, sculptors and photographers who face losing their workspaces because of gentrification in the booming capital.

All 30 artists in the building have received a notice to vacate the premises they have used since 2013.

"It's an installation to draw attention to what's happening here, something is being lost here. There won't be one cross standing in the end.

They have been told to leave by March 2020 as the space is to be demolished and replaced by a five-storey mixed-use complex.

"It's an installation to draw attention to what's happening here," said painter Lydia Paasche, 41. "Something is being lost here. There won't be one cross standing in the end."

With rents doubling in just a decade, Berlin risks losing its reputation as a mecca for artists.

Not prepared

Artists flooded into the German capital from the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, many taking over vacant residential buildings or disused industrial sites.

Far cheaper than other Western capitals, Berlin swiftly became a magnet for many young artists starting out.

But three decades on and with Germany's job market booming, investors have also increasingly crowded into Berlin, putting pressure on the property market.

Half of the 8,000 Berlin artists polled by BBK fear losing their studios in the medium term.

Berlin's culture minister Klaus Lederer said: "The spiral of commercial rent is inversing rapidly and leading to the disappearance of a big number of art spaces."

"We were not prepared for this," he conceded in an interview with Berliner Zeitung. "We should have begun preparing policies seven or 10 years ago."

It would be boring

But the artists said they were not given a guarantee they could stay.

Further, rents would be raised in the new complex, at a time when Berlin has taken the drastic measure of freezing rents for five years to cool the market.

"But putting myself on the list is accepting that I'm being expelled and not fighting against it."

The artists at Treptow Ateliers are hoping that the authorities will step in.

"There is more than a million square metres of state property space that's unused," Paasche said.

"Berlin without art is like Bonn without the government. It would be boring."

Agence France-Presse