The Pracownia Wschodnia Association may lose its premises at Hallera Square. The organization issued a statement and a petition was created to defend the premises. Councilors also got involved in the activity. The city hall replies that there is still a possibility to talk to the mayor and find a solution.
The Pracownia Wschodnia Association, which uses its headquarters at Władysława Skoczylasa Street near Hallera Square, may soon disappear from the cultural map of Praga-Północ. The organization will likely not receive an extension of its lease. Artists associated with the facility published a statement on social media informing about the situation.
“It is with great sadness and regret that we accepted the Thursday decision of the Praga Północ District Management Board not to extend the lease agreement for our premises (….). We must leave our premises by December 4, 2023. Pracownia Wschodnia in its current form may cease to exist,” wrote the members of the Association. Eastern Studio.
Negotiations at the Real Estate Management Department
We talked about the situation with members of the association. – After submitting an application for the extension of the contract, we were invited to the Prague headquarters of the Real Estate Management Company for negotiations regarding a new contract. At the place of negotiations, we received a protocol informing that the contract was not to be extended – said Łukasz Zembaty from Pracownia Wschodnia.
The entry in the minutes they received was as follows: “On October 5, 2023, the Commission for Commercial Premises informed the Tenant that on September 28, 2023, at the meeting of the Management Board of the Praga-Północ District of the capital city of Warsaw, a decision was made not to extend the contract for another period. lease of premises no. 196 at ul. Skoczylasa 8 with the Pracownia Wschodnia Association. The premises will be intended for the needs of the Praga-Północ District.
People from the association present at the negotiations asked ZGN representatives whether they could apply for another premises. – They replied that the district had a few 30-square-meter apartments and we could apply for them. We are now renting a premises with an area of 400 square meters – explained Zembaty. And he added: – They didn’t want to negotiate or talk with us or show help. They suggested that we go to the mayor. We tried to do it. We have a meeting scheduled for next week.
– We are still relying on this internal meeting protocol, we don’t know anything officially – Aneta Zdziech from Pracownia Wschodnia told us. Therefore, the association decided to publish a statement and organize a petition. – We are extremely disappointed with the city’s policy regarding support for grassroots cultural initiatives – we read in the statement.
District office: a directional decision has been made
We asked about the matter of the Pracownia Wschodnia Association at the Praga-Północ District Office. – The management board has made a directional decision regarding the premises, but there is no resolution yet. The office is at the stage of talks – we heard from Mateusz Kędzierski, spokesman for the Praga-Północ district.
As he explained, the officials themselves need the premises. – Currently, the Praga Public Areas Authority (ZPTP) is located in a very small premises and shares it with one of the ZGN administrations. This place is insufficient for them, and for us, district units are a priority. The premises occupied by the association have been initially designated as the place where ZPTP will be moved, Kędzierski clarified.
The agreement signed by the Pracownia Wschodnia Association is valid until the end of the year. – Before the end of the year comes, there are opportunities to start conversations and look for solutions. The mayor is very willing to welcome interested parties and is looking for solutions that will be good for all parties, assured Kędzierski.
The association has been operating for 17 years
The Pracownia Wschodnia Association has been operating for over 17 years, including for almost three years at Hallera Square. “We are a self-financing and non-commercial artistic center. We create infrastructure for artists and a cultural program that can be used by city residents. We maintain this place with our contributions and pro publico bono work,” we read in the statement.
For two years, Pracownia Wschodnia organized 55 exhibitions, 21 various types of workshop programs, 12 concerts and 33 other cultural events, such as debates, screenings and shows.
– We have a gallery space where regular events are organized and we regularly invite local artists. We have a screen printing space where we run workshops and artists can print with us. There is also a photography space with a studio and a darkroom. The premises also house the Peryferie publishing house, which publishes independent publications, said Zdziech.
“We maintain workshop facilities for dozens of artists from various fields, creating opportunities for the development of art that has been exhibited not only in our gallery, but also in cultural institutions around the world,” the statement said.
This is not the first such case
Councilors and people of culture got involved in defending the premises. Agata Diduszko-Zyglewska, an unaffiliated councilor of Warsaw, commented on the information about the non-extension of the lease. – This action is extremely contrary to the cultural policy of the mayor of the city – Gazeta Stołeczna quotes the councilor. Further in the newspaper’s text, we read that “Agata Diduszko-Zyglewska, vice-chairman of the culture committee in the Warsaw Council, said that the problem did not concern only Praga and Pracownia Wschodnia. She listed the examples of Prochownia Żoliborz, Pokręt and premises on the Vistula boulevards.” – This is another situation when people of culture put their money and time into activities for the local community and suddenly they are told “goodbye” – the councilor told Gazeta Stołeczna.
– Our situation is not the only one. Praga Station faced a similar problem of non-renewal of the contract. The district also terminated the contract of another artist, but her contract was still in force. Purges are taking place in the cultural world of the Prague district. No one knows the reason, the day or the hour. There is no chance to create a grassroots initiative, said Aneta Zdziech.
We also asked the Real Estate Management Company in the Praga-Północ District about the non-extension of the lease of the premises occupied by the Pracownia Wschodnia Association. We are waiting for answer.
Main photo source: Tomasz Zieliński/tvnwarszawa.pl