Magacin represents a former publishing company’s warehouse, which has been adapted into a cultural centre of 1000m2– consisting of several offices, a large gallery/debate room, dance room for rehearsals and a smaller cinema hall. The space is situated in Savamala quarter, in the immediate vicinity of Belgrade Waterfront project. The Cultural Center Magacin exists since 2007, when city authorities announced the open call in which five organizations got the space at their disposal. It was not lawfully possible for the City of Belgrade to directly assign the space to the organizations, hence the solution was found through the mediator – The Belgrade Youth Centre, to whom the City formally gave the space to manage, in order to assign it to the organizations. Before the assignment, the City was supposed to renovate it and adapt, however, that was never realized. Therefore, the organizations chosen at open call to use the space for two years have not signed any contract. This illegal situation, with silent approval of local authorities, has provoked various problems such as: dysfunctional space, lack of investment in infrastructure and slow decay of the space.
However, in meanwhile, since 2007, Magacin has held a very important role within the independent cultural scene. This was the space at disposal to everyone who needed it. The gallery was available to everyone who could not exhibit at other places, the dance hall has been used for rehearsal of performances which are performed in numerous theatres; debates and other programs took place very often. The availability of the space was of enormous significance for a large number of organizations.
In December 2014, The Belgrade Youth Center tried to move out the organizations in order to rent the space for commercial purposes. As the contract was never signed, they had a full right to do that. Nevertheless, the Association Independent Cultural Scene of Serbia (ICSS), whose members are some of those organizations, has been engaged in this problem, initiating the campaign for this space to remain the Cultural Center.
After nine years of creation of the cultural center, and around 1.5 years after the establishment of a new model of functioning, based on principles of open calendar, Magacin has reached very successful results judged bythe number of events, as well as their quality, diversity and availability. More than 1000 events were held in Magacin in 2016. Even 60 organizations and individuals used this space, and approximately 3 events per day were realized, without taking into account organizations that use the offices on a regular, everyday basis. In comparison with official users of this space, The Belgrade Youth Center, in the same period organizes around 1600 programs, with many employees, charging entrance fees, and financial budgetary resources. These fascinating numbers and results confirm not just the fact that this space is rather valuable, but also the success of its current management and operational model, which includes the principles of availability to a large number of organizations, joint work and sharing, openness and tolerance, based on the mechanism of open calendar that all organizations can use.
Furthermore, Magacin has become increasingly important since the introduction of necessary minimum amount of money (grant) that certain organizations can receive on a yearly concourse of Ministry of culture and information, which left small and new organizations without any financial sources. Nevertheless, it is obvious that all this was not enough to save Magacin, one of the rare examples of good practice on the cultural scene, and to finally resolve the legal status of organizations that use it. On the contrary, Magacin has been continuously exposed to the interests of individuals who would prefer to see it in a commercial activity.In 2014 there was an attempt to move out the organizations that work in it, and the latest intentions in late 2016 to move out the artists in order to use the space for more lucrative purposes.
The Association ICSS has been trying for the past two years, together with formal user of the space – Belgrade Youth Center and the Secretariat of Culture of Belgrade, to find solutions to this issue, in order to maintain the current purpose and use of the space, continue to pursue successful results and to be open and accessible to organizations that work in the field of contemporary artistic creativity, with maximum utilization and sharing of the space. Unfortunately, their proposals have not been met with understanding from the authorities.
The model proposed by the Association ICSS to the authorities relies on practice of using the Magacin so far. This means that its availability (accessibility) to all organizations, not just to members of the ICSS, will be realized formally through an open calendar ¬– an online tool in which all interested parties can schedule to use certain parts of the space. The space would be intended for contemporary artistic creative work (creativity) and the model is based on idea that users manage the space on their own. When it comes to program characteristics, this model does not include an editorial board, neither curators, or some other, concrete designation, taking into account that program will depend on people and organizations that will sign up for its use. The space is used as a resource center where people work together sharing their resources, and it offers notable support to small productions that do not have their own space, but need this kind of help in their work.
The implementation of this model is possible in three ways:
1) The government should be responsible for implementing it, but it has been already shown as not functional in the last 8 years
2) To establish a new institution whose representatives would be both from authorities and civic sector, such as Pogon from Zareb, for instance. This way was rejected by the City, due to expenses that it would incur
3) To assign the space to Association ICSS, that would be responsible for the model implementation
The most realistic solution is the third option, and the City and the Belgrade Youth Center are considering announcing a concourse for the associations and networks based on proposed principles, which would solve the issue and contribute to the functioning of the space at full capacity.
About MKM (PDF)