About Us

 

           

Art, Culture and ADVOCACY

Platform | Location | Venue | Supporting Association | A Retrospective Glance

WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN (WDK) is more than just a cultural centre. It is a symbolic location for artistic exposure where a myriad of traditional and contemporary cultural practices and art forms are presented - as well as represented. In a world where local and global issues are inevitably linked to international migration stories, WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN celebrates cultural difference!

As an event arena and festival producer, WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN has set itself the task of examining current political developments in migration and cultural policy. These subjects are brought into the limelight of public interest embodied in various stimulating forms of art, culture and advocacy.

Situated in the heart of "Kreuzkölln," the eighth district of Berlin, WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN generates open spaces for public commentary and participation in ongoing discourse. We are the “visibility makers.” We spearhead the reality of bringing visibility to the creative productions of Berlin’s thriving artistic and cultural milieus. Special attention is, however, given to the works propagated by People of Colour, Black people and members of heterogeneous ethnic and cultural minorities. Their voices must be heard.

Serving as a platform for art, culture and advocacy, a growing number of Berliners with close biographical ties to different global regions, and thus to different cultural milieus in the city, use WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN as a meeting place.

Hosting up to 50 events every single month of the year, we are one of the few cultural institutions in Germany, which consistently focusses on transculturality and diversity. This evidently illustrates the rich and expansive creativity of Berlin’s migrant and minority population.

We celebrate cultural difference! Backed by this simple yet strong and clear theme, we communicate across numerous channels and networking platforms, transcending all conventional genres. Our programmes therefore span from film (series), (henna) festivals, panel discussions (on cultural and migration policy), (Kurdish and Chinese) New Year celebrations, literature (nights), music (festivals), performances, dance (theatre), to (salsa) parties and other forms of creative encounter and exchange.

In collaboration with curators, artists, (cultural) associations and other experts, WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN has become a generator of in-house productions and co-operations, as well as a host for rental events.

Users and visitors are provided a stage to explore issues and address the potentials and opportunities that emerge from urban lifestyles:
In what historical contexts do we live and operate? How do our biographies relate to each other? What prospects and possibilities for development do they harbour? How can our living environment (its routine everyday work coupled with its leisure and cultural activities) become more participatory, culturally diverse, inclusive, fair and thus more ingenious?
 

PLATFORM


By fusing artistic, cultural and social relationships, WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN has grown to become a vibrant, international network. Visitors can experience what migration and its influences really mean through taking part in experimenting, questioning and (re)discovering perpetually dynamic cultural and social practices.

A blend of artistic, socio-cultural and discursive formats creates a direct link to the visitor’s everyday life, providing realistic opportunities to actively participate and build identity. Against the backdrop of Berlin's continuous cultural transformation processes, we help create context spaces and platforms for the reflection, commentary and adaptation of social processes.

WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN acts as a facilitator for the smooth and tangible transportation of artistic, cultural and social mechanisms. This is done by using various modes of communication ranging from theme festivals to film, dance, and concert series, and from conventions, panel discussions and conferences to the presentation of awards. The obvious wide range has proven to be highly relevant in defining the fabric of our everyday lives which is made up of transculturality and diversity. Our main concerns lie primarily with questions concerning identity, equality, visibility, participation and inclusion in the context of migration and ethno-cultural or ideological affiliations.

Festivals
Every year in February, our BLACK HISTORY MONTH draws connections between concerts, readings, films, dance and theatre performances and reflections on the history of Africa. We also examine African history and its cultural links to the concept of the Black Atlantic counterculture with focus on its impact on various Afro-diasporic communities living in Berlin.

With each with their respective three awards, the world music competitions “creole Berlin-Brandenburg” and “creole Global,” seek out the most outstanding musical developments in Germany and neighbouring countries, which have been inspired through migration and fusion. The local competition is now in the 6th year, whereas creole Global is in its second year.

The percussion family has been used as rhythm, signal and auxiliary instruments in both sacred and secular contexts for more than 6,000 years. Drums, often played in combination with other instruments or accompanied by song and dance, are believed to be among mankind’s oldest musical instruments.

Throughout its eventful history, the city of Berlin has been a destination for immigrants from all over the world. Hence, it has become home to various percussion traditions, which are proudly presented at the Global Drums Festival. The first one took place in 2016.

Hosting approximately 1.5 million visitors from home and abroad every year, the Karneval der Kulturen was initiated by WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN in 1996. It is considered Europe’s largest and most versatile summer open air festival. The concept to give those Berliners who are not able to identify with Berlin's art and cultural scene, their own unmistakable platform for self-expression was new. This innovative idea has proven, time and again, that it cannot be disregarded or ignored, as even after two decades, it is still a public attraction.

Local musicians from Berlin play the finest global music, non-stop, on four open air stages at Kreuzberg’s Blücherplatz. They set the pace for the traditional carnival scene. On Pentecost Sunday, the stretch of road between Hermannplatz and Mehringdamm is transformed into a gigantic stage of expression. New, eclectic creations of carnival artworks parade alongside traditional performance art from around the globe, where it has been meticulously preserved and carefully developed.

The three-day SACRED MUSIC&DANCE FESTIVAL was launched in 2013 as a tribute to the city of Berlin, the old and new home of a variety of different religious communities. The practice of very lively religious and religiously inspired music and dance forms an integral and essential element of their religious activity. During the festival, musicians, dancers and speakers representing this multitude of religious and ideological communities living in present-day Berlin, permit the audience to witness a brief glimpse of their sacred music and dance.

The study group Werkstatt Religionen und Weltanschauungen (Werkstatt Religions and World Views ), which was initiated in 1999 as a long-term project, examines specific issues pertaining to religious and ideological perspectives. In monthly meetings, the group initiates new areas of knowledge, as well as spaces for the perception of one's own socialisation. Each year a new general topic is selected and examined from various religious perspectives. The group also organises an annual conference on Further Education for teachers and publishes all corresponding teaching materials. Approximately 100 disseminators attend on a regular basis.

Features
In addition to these recurring festivals, WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN regularly develops formats for special events featuring well-known guests. In the live political discussion Playing in the Dark or the family event Children's Book Party, sensitive issues like discrimination are addressed to set counterpoints vis-à-vis aggressive mainstream debates, in which the use of clichés and external ascriptions is very commonplace.

Raum für Flucht! Every Wednesday, we offer our club room free of charge to those holding events related to forced migration/#fleeing, as well as to self-organised refugee projects and initiatives. Interested? Get in touch with us at veranstaltungsbuero@werkstatt-der-kulturen.de.

Curation
The role of the curator lies in providing the professional mediation of cultural and artistic achievements. At the same time, however, curators are themselves artists. They are inspiring creators of total experiences. By generating and setting in motion a series of ideas, they construct an environment around an event, in which the audience can directly engage themselves through participation and communication.

Whether first-timer or recurring contributor, our curators form an ever-expanding body of expert knowledge on the vast migrant and minority cultures in Berlin. Not only do they address current developments and discourses in their work, but they also relentlessly share their artistic expertise and (trans)cultural know-how with our visitors.

Their creativity reflects important aspects of their own individual artistic, cultural and biographical frames of reference which is then made visible through different mediums held at WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN, such as the WorldWideCinema series; Jazz, world music and (Bospo)rock concerts; word and literary events; dance festivals or various other interdisciplinary event formats.

Co-operations
Through our many co-operations with associations, working groups, universities, artists, activists and initiatives, we function as a valuable forum for networking opportunities between local projects and national/international organisations. The interest of our partners in realising programmes such as the festival Black Music Renaissance, the concert series Klangfarben or the film series Beyond Spring, once again confirms the urgent need for a venue which sets its artistic priorities to look beyond the aesthetics of occidental high culture and popular culture.

Furthermore, fruitful co-operations between WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN and its partners have resulted in the development of educational projects like 200 Years Later..., the Initiative afrodiasporische Zusatzschule, the touring exhibition Respect, the conference The German Oak in the Yasukini Shrine and the Nelson Mandela Festival.

We take critical spoken word and dialogue events seriously and are proud to have developed for example, Zwischen Antisemitismus und Antimuslimismus, Racism in the Courtroom, Greece and Euro(pe) and Action Strategies for Equal Participation for Sinti and Roma in Germany. In our strive to forge ahead, not only have we co-produced award-winning films such as Kiez der Kinder or Den ganzen Weg, with our strong partners, but we have also organised historical concert evenings which narrate pieces of history through music, like Songs of the Civil Rights Movement by the Berliner Ebony Big Band.

These events clearly illustrate that the processing, transmission and collective perception of history in Berlin, a European metropolis characterised by emigration and immigration, must acknowledge that global history is intricately woven and defined by an exchange of relationships. This is a fact of history which all Berliners should aim to identify with.

Rentals
Clubs, organisations and initiatives working on issues concerning migration, transculturality, diversity and cultural difference often choose to take advantage of the numerous rental spaces on offer at WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN. This stems from the fact that we are an institution well known for attracting a culturally diverse audience.

WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN has provided the ideal rental space for many events. Following are some outstanding examples:
"Theatre Berbere," "Ibn Rushd Preisverleihung,” "Dialogforum der Jungen Islam Konferenz Berlin," "Danca Frevo Tanzfest," "Kalligraphie Workshop," "Tamilisches Literarisches Forum," "Äthiopisches Neujahrsfest," "Mapuche - die indigene Minderheit Chiles," "Meine Erde, meine Welt..." "Ein Abend der polnischen Roma-Kultur," "Welt-Down-Syndrom-Tag 2014," "Fachforum Arbeitsmarkt&Migration," "Tadschikische Afghanische Kulturveranstaltung," "Mitarbeiterschulung Interkulturelle Öffnung," "Maßnahme zur Stärkung der Roma-Community in Berlin," "Bühne der Wahrheit," "Ayyaám-í-Há-Fest," "Bir Saz Bir Söz," "Brasiliensolidairtät damals und heute," "Nau-Roz -Nauroz Fest," "Frieden für Venezuela" and "Einführung in das Asyl- und Aufenthaltsrecht."

These events highlight only a small section of the multi-faceted art and cultural scenes that Berlin’s diversified landscape of migrant associations, organisers and curators conceptualise, produce and then present to the public - at WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN.

 

LOCATION


The construction of the brewery "Bergbrauerei Hasenheide” was initiated in 1865 by Karl Gustav Eduard Kelch, a merchant and manufacturer. At that time, the location was known as Hasenheide 108 -114. After two years of construction work, it was inaugurated and went into operation.

Then in 1890, the district of Neukölln decided to change the name of the section of road where the brewery was located, to “Wissmannstraße," in honour of Hermann Wissmann. He had been bestowed a noble title for his leading role in the bloody counterinsurgency during the so-called “Arab Revolt” in German East Africa, a former German colony.

Together with visitors, artists, partners and external organisers, WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN seeks to subject the cloaking of Germany’s colonial past to uninterrupted critical examination. It is therefore important that in a post-colonial world, the stories of the citizens of Berlin are looked at and debated. The necessity to take an interest in the complexity of these interrelated biographies with a view to surmount national historical perspectives is rightly given.

To do precisely that, we produce such enlightening projects like 100 Years Maji Maji War, the History Music CD 1884, the exhibition MANUFACTURING RACE, the conference "DECOLONIZE!" or the panel discussion Postcolonial Justice with Professor Paul Gilroy on Germany’s coming to terms with and processing of its colonial history.


 

VENUE


With a hall on the second floor, which can be used for concerts, film screenings, theatre, or spoken word events; a conference room and three meeting rooms on the first floor; a restaurant with a large garden on the ground floor and a club room in the cellar, WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN is well equipped to flexibly respond to the needs and wishes of all its users.

SUPPORTING ASSOCIATION


WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN is a project supported by the association Brauerei Wissmannstrasse e.V. It receives subsides for operating costs from the Office of the Commissioner of the Berlin Senate for Integration and Migration and regularly applies for external funding for individual projects and programmes. In addition to this, revenue is generated from venue rentals.

A RETROSPECTIVE GLANCE


In October 1993, WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN opened its doors for the first time in the historic former working class district of Neukölln.

Primarily initiated by associations and migrant organisations to serve their own communities, the programme which spanned various genres became an integral part of the city’s immigrant milieu. Today it constitutes a significant part of the historical memory of Berlin.

Complementary to its existing programme, WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN professionalised its interdisciplinary programmes in the following years, by intensively and extensively working together with local musicians, artists and curators in Berlin.

It managed to succeed in strengthening its reputation as the first institution in Berlin’s cultural scene to use stage, film and discourse to consistently focus on the visibility of migrant, Black and PoC perspectives in art, culture and advocacy.

Today, WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN stands for the celebration of cultural difference like no other – it is its own raison d’être!

How it all began:
Learn more about the beginnings of WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN in our institution’s brochure from 1993 (PDF, German).
WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN’s Annual Report 2014 (PDF, German)

Donation Account:
IBAN: DE85 1009 0000 5685 4070 29
BIC: BEVODEBB