Culture Factory Week


From the 16th till the 19th of September 2013, the most comprehensive series of seminars and workshops, going by the the title of Pilsen Culture Factory Week, culminated in an international conference which addressed venues for culture and art and the development of community life in former industrial premises.

International experts with experience running cultural centres similar to the futureSvětovar Culture Factory, which is one of the flagships of the European Capital of Culture 2015, presented their experience in the areas of financing, operating, marketing and programme management. “Nowadays cultural centres come into existence through the transformation of all kinds of industrial objects – in a former slaughterhouse, factory or bus depot. The Culture Factories Week showed how such centres work… We were able to bring top-class experts to Pilsen and their talks were truly interesting and inspiring,” asserts Adriana Krásová from the Pilsen 2015 non-profit organisation which organised the event with the financial support of the Swiss-Czech Cooperation Programme, in cooperation with the Research Centre of Industrial Heritage FA ČVUT in Prague and the Technical Monuments Committee of the Czech Chamber of Authorised Engineers and Technicians  and the Czech Institution of Structural and Civil Engineers within the Vestiges of Industry Project.

There were many unique personalities among the guests involving, for instance, the director of the well-known Spanish cultural centre Matadero Madrid, Carlota Álvarez Basso; the director of the outstanding art centre Spinnerei in Leipzig, Bertram Schultze; director of the Swiss cultural centre Kaserne in Basel, Thomas Keller; co-founder of the Creative Factory in Rotterdam, Leo van Loon; a prominent Swiss architect, Isa Stürm, as well as Czech experts: Benjamin Fragner from the Czech Technical University in Prague; Artistic Director of the international festival of contemporary art 4+4 Days in Motion, Pavel Štorek; and director of the Cultural Prague District 14 organisation, David Kašpar.

“I’d say Světovar has a very solid foundation. It is a relatively large area with varied structures of buildings. Together they make an interesting whole with a specific signature. What makes these premises attractive is also a certain rawness – that’s what appeals to artists, who don’t want a place that’s all spit and polish,” explained Bertram Schultze, who since 2001 has managed the transformation of what was originally the largest European cotton mill in Europe into the world famous art centre Spinnerei in Leipzig.

“Work with local people and focus on your own artists and cultural institutions, at the same time don’t forget to keep in touch with the international scene. A clear artistic vision is also important, the centre should find and keep a specific direction for itself,“ was the advice given by Carlota Álvarez Basso from the Matadero cultural centre in Madrid.

The Pilsen 2015 Programme Director Jiří Sulženko fully agrees: “It is not going to be another theatre, another concert hall. It’s not what we’re after and we can’t compete with them. It is supposed to be a home of a kind for those active here. A home for university graduates, who will be working in the creative incubator, a home for residents creating their works here, a home for the local community, which will have its shelter here, be it a children’s club or different courses or clubs,” Sulženko outlines.

The overall attendance at the event was over a hundred, the audience comprised people from all over the country. The programme appealed to current and potential cultural venues operators, but also to academics and programme directors of international institutes and representatives of foreign embassies. “We were pleased to welcome guests from the universities of Ostrava, Brno and Pardubice, from the Prague Meet Factory, students and lecturers of Arts Management at the University of Economics, Prague and other arts schools, as well as international guests from Bavaria or the Austrian city of Graz,” tallies Adriana Krásová. “For those interested in the topic that didn’t have the opportunity to take part in the programme at Světovar, we have prepared an exhibition in Smetanovy sady (Smetana Park) presenting examples of successful cultural centres elsewhere in Europe. Photographs tell the stories of big and small cities, documenting the beneficial connection and use of active centres in former factories.”

The exhibition will last till the end of the month, while a subsequent tour around the country is being considered at the moment.

Reconstruction of Světovar will begin this autumn; it is planned to be completed in the first third of the year 2015.