Artists Protest Rising Studio Rents and Evictions As Berlin Art Week Gets Underway

The German government's cultural protection law will effect the global art market. Photo: Cezary Piwowarski via Wikimedia Commons

The international stereotype portrays Berlin as a safe haven for struggling artists. A place where rents are cheap and studio space is available in abundance. As Berlin Art Week kicks off, a group of artists have staged a protest as a reminder that this utopian portrayal of Berlin is far from accurate.

Members of the Alliance of Endangered Studio Spaces (AbBA) gathered at Alexanderplatz in the center of the German capital on Wednesday, September 16, to call on the Berlin Senate to open up the city’s large number of abandoned properties for artistic, cultural, and social use.

Amid increasing gentrification, rising rents, and evictions, more and more artists are finding it difficult to afford studio spaces where they can pursue their artistic practice.

According to AbBA, five studio cooperatives housing about 150 artists have been shut down by their private owners in 2014 and 2015. Many more artists studios are being threatened by foreclosure as property owners seek to capitalize on higher rent revenues from corporate or other high net-worth tenants, such as Berlin’s burgeoning high-tech industry.

Protesting in front of the abandoned Haus der Statistik a massive GDR-era office building, AbBA told the press, “The area around Alexanderplatz is screaming for the development of artistic, cultural, and social uses and initiatives…the expansion of the glitzy shopping district could be enriched by a piece of Berlin’s culture. Alexanderplatz could become a district of diversity.”

AbBA held a similar protest in march to challenge the gentrification of traditional artist’s hubs like the city’s district of Kreuzberg.

Related stories:

Berlin Artists Stage Protest Against Studio Evictions

As Rents Rise, Can Berlin Artists Still Afford a Place to Work?

Berlin Studio Complex, the Uferhallen, Threatened by Adidas

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