Odense is moving fast. But where are we going?

Odense is moving fast. But where are we going?
Debate | Written by: This Is Odense | Translated by: Pil Lindgreen | Tuesday, November 14, 2017

ELECTION DEBATE: More things are happening in Odense than ever before. But what direction is the cultural scene going in? And more importantly, where do we want it to go?

In a series of articles leading up to the local elections, we will be asking questions about the city’s culture and providing our best answers, helped by some of the people involved in arts and culture in Odense. Read along, voice your opinion and show up on Saturday at the pre-election debate organized by Kulturklyngen at Storms Pakhus at 6 pm. Central figures in the election will be there to answer for themselves.

CULTURE WITH COURAGE!

Photo: Theatre Momentum, 2016

 

This Is Odense’s aim has always been to show that the city has more to offer than you might think. Today, this is truer than ever before, and our job of looking through Odense’s events and selecting the best is getting more and more difficult each week. But as exciting as this new multitude is, all new things are not good merely on account of being new.
And what do we mean by that?  

No matter how much we might differ in opinion within the group in This Is Odense, we all share a dream of culture that challenges us; arts that do not merely aim to please, but strive to provoke and change.   

A cultural scene that does not begin and end with audience numbers, but cares to move its audiences. A cultural scene that is open to the world, but does not rely on tried and true cultural package-deals passing through town. A cultural scene that allows artists not only to survive but to live and play in Odense.

A cultural scene that causes a stir throughout Denmark, but is as real and present to an Odensian on a Tuesday night in some muggy attic as it is in the crowd in front of the stage on a June evening in Tusindårsskoven.

A cultural scene supported by a free and open discussion about its own merits and direction.

In other words, culture with courage. And there is still some way to go before we get there.

BIG QUESTIONS - BIG POTENTIAL

The cultural scene in Odense is small enough that most people in it are connected somehow, depending on support from each other and often from the City itself. This kind of close network often means fruitful conditions for collaborations, but also sometimes that necessary critiques and critical questions are only posed in private conversations. And we should not forget that at This Is Odense we too are part of this network.

But the questions have to be asked, so the starting point for our series of articles is to bring some of these difficult questions to light.

 

IS ODEON WHAT WE WERE PROMISED AND WHAT ODENSE NEEDS?

Photo: Odeon’s main venue, Store Sal. Credit: Klaus Knakkergaard

ODEON has been long in the making - from the initial plan to place a cultural centre in the former Thrige factory, to a political decision to establish a centre for music and theatre at its present-day location back in 2005 that stranded during the financial crisis and went through two consecutive adaptations before it reached its final form. The question is: has ODEON become what we hoped it would? And is it what Odense needs today?

A political decision in 2005 allotted DKK 90 m to a projected new centre for music and theatre. The project was called a cultural beacon for the city and both Venstre and Socialdemokraterne were eager to stress the importance of smaller, non-commercial cultural initiatives being invited to join this new centre.

When the sketch for the ODEON project was unveiled in 2008, it was accompanied by the story of building a “cultural powerhouse”. Then-mayor Anker Boye (A) called the centre “the beating heart of the city”, and predicted it would finally put Odense on the cultural map. Jan Boye (K) pointed out that ODEON would allow the city to attract performers of a whole new calibre, while Jane Jegind (V) called it a “cultural beacon that will make the citizens of Odense proud of their hometown”. Meanwhile, urbanist Lars Engberg commented that a cultural centre will only become a landmark when it provides content of unique quality.

What followed was a lowering of both price and quality, especially for the main venue, in order to make a profit on student housing, a supermarket, and conference facilities at the centre. A more realistic project for the post-2008 market, some might say. Meanwhile, the City increased its share of the investment. Jan Boye (K) maintained that the centre would be of high quality. The Danish National School of Performing Arts and the Danish National Academy of Music argued that this was their chance to make a mark on the city and create new synergies by settling their activities in the building. Steen Møller, who replaced Jan Boye, called it a possible “international dynamo”, and both S and DF expressed enthusiasm.

Cut to late 2017. ODEON has been open and running for about eight months now, and what do we have on our hands? The city has gained an acclaimed communal restaurant and a much critized supermarket.
We have not seen much of the non-commercial initiatives so far, contrary to the original intent. And whether such performers would be able to carve out a meaningful space for themselves in the building remains to be seen. It is still too early to judge what has been gained by moving the schools of music and performance to their new location.

What we can judge is the cultural landmark, the “beacon” itself; ODEON’s own bookings and visiting events of the past eight months. This is where projection and reality differ the most. A cross-section of the programme so far includes: City Singler, Tina Dickow, Chippendales, Linie 3, The Bootleg Beatles, Kim Larsen, Stine Bramsen, Caroline Henderson, Svend Brinkmann, Midt Om Natten-musical, Cliff Richard, and of course productions by Odense Teater and Odense Symphony Orchestra.

It is very hard to see a beacon taking shape from that. Nothing on that list does not already feature on every major venue across the country and most of the performers could have been booked at Odense’s existing venues. And though the acoustics might be better at ODEON, other venues might have offered a more fitting setting for several names. Worst case scenario: because of ODEON, Odense is left with a lesser culture and the new venue could be said to cannibalize the bookings of other, existing venues.
We might be so bold as to ask: Has Odense gained anything culturally by ODEON that the city did not already have?

And does it have to be that way? The special merit of ODEON must lie in its size and in the quality of its events. So what happened to the ambitions for its bookings? Where is the courage to be a cultural beacon? Could it really be that there are still people who doubt that Odensians are ready to step out of their comfort zone? And what role does the City play in challenging this tendency?

 

IS POSTEN LIVING OP TO ITS RESPONSIBILITES AS A HIGH-QUALITY REGIONAL VENUE?

Photo: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at their almost sold-out show at Posten last week

Posten is the regional venue in Odense - one of 18 across the country - and is comparable in size to Radar, Train and Global/Jazzhouse in Copenhagen and Århus.

It is furthermore a venue with a solid economic record and a strong network of sponsors. Comparing Posten’s finances to the accounts for Vega, the two receive roughly the same state funding (Vega DKK 6.1 m, Posten/Dexter DKK 6.2 m), and have roughly the same income from sponsors (Vega DKK 1.8 m, Posten/Dexter DKK 1.4 m). The big difference lies in their turnover. Ticket income at Posten/Dexter amounts to DKK 10.3 m; Vega DKK 56 m.

Posten states its strategy as follows: offering audiences “high-quality live music” and big international names, and in later years have also expressed ambition to support upcoming local bands and underground acts. After its extension in 2007, Posten has a capacity of 900 at its main stage. In comparison, the count at Vega is 1,550, at Radar 300 and at Train 1,000.

All things considered, Posten should be able to offer Odensians a combination of high quality upcoming bands and midsize international acts, on top of those classic Danish acts touring the nation.

Between now and April next year, Vega has (among many other) the following acts scheduled that would easily fit the bill at Posten too: Joey BadaSS, Destroyer, Alex Cameron, Sun Kill Moon, The Kooks, Mastodon, Mando Diao, Thomas Dybdahl, Iron and Wine, Niels Frahm, First Aid Kit and Editors. Hiphop, singer-songwriting, indie rock, folk rock, pop rock, heavy, alternative rock, modern classic and electronic music.

Posten, in that same period, presents a list of cover bands, well-known Danish touring bands and a handful of lesser known international acts, that are not unknown because they are on the verge of a breakthrough.

Is it not possible to improve this booking profile? Shouldn’t Posten be Odenses main venue for medium-sized international acts? And what about the ambience? Why don’t audiences tend to stay and hang out at Posten after a concert? Why is there no sense of a creative environment when you enter through its doors? Why is it that one tends to feel more like a number being handled in wardrobe than a valued guest?

 

DOES THE CITY LACK AN ALTERNATIVE SCENE AND A CREATIVE CLASS?

Photo: Kenneth Danielsen, Odense Offentlige Slagtehuse

This leads us to the next question - does Odense lack a true alternative upcoming venue surrounded by production facilities and rehearsal space for off-off centre arts with less obvious commercial potential? A creative hub without a neat and orderly municipal ambience? In a central location? Where bookers do not have to end concerts early, and where artists and organizers can shape everything from start to finish?

Is the lack of such a place not one of the main reasons why the city’s creative talent is so hard to find, even though it is growing in numbers? Kansas City is trying its best to be that place on the music scene, but its efforts have so far been held back by its location far from the city centre and its small following.

Kulturklyngen is on it; several cultural and educational institutions are talking about it, and initiatives such as Røde Himmel and other talented people from Ungdomshuset and Flow HF have been looking for an inclusive home for a while now.

How will we get there - what will it take? What is the ideal location? Could the last remnant of pristine industrial history on Siloøen be an option? Not every bit of industrial history has yet been developed into apartments, but we are getting there, and fast. That is not the recipe for a big city. What role should the city play in establishing such a project? And how do we ensure that it does not end up another temporary space, fertilizing an area for investment and development?

 

WHAT DIRECTION IS BRANDTS MOVING IN? AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO BRANDTS 13?

Photo: Disney exhibition at Brandts

The new Brandts is big, shiny, and ready to position itself as an ever-larger-looming figure in Odensian culture. Central to this ambition is (mostly) pop(ular) art. Soon the fourth floor that hosts the Funen Art Academy will be cleared and included in Brandts. The Media Museum will also have to go. More room - bigger exhibitions - more visitors.

Brandts has since its relaunch in 2014 exhibited tattoos, fashion, air travel, the sea, Walt Disney (with hands tied and no creative input) and, currently, the work of Lars von Trier. All no doubt with the admirable aim of getting more people to visit, and to establish itself among the big players in Danish cultural institutions.

The question is: What do we lose along the way? Is it really in a serious museum’s best interest to purchase a readymade (by Disney) exhibition on Disney? Is it desirable to fill the museum bookstore with assorted bric-a-brac instead of art books and make a visitor’s first impression that of a Bed, Bath and Beyond? Exit through the giftshop, please. And buy your identity here.

The rebranding of Brandts has included a satellite in Brandts 13; home to every risk and chance the museum has taken in the past 3-4 years, and as a result, often the most interesting exhibition space in Odense. Now it too faces closure. Brandts 13 has played the part of the empire’s frontrunner; pushing forward, moving ahead with installatons, photography and contemporary artist from Funen, Denmark and the world. Every exhibition has met an impressive still- higher standard.

What will happen to these ambitions when Brandts 13 closes its doors? Will the ambition and cultural courage move to a different site in the Brandts empire? And what will happen to the building - the former Funen Art Museum? Might a clever investor eye an opportunity to develop luxury apartments with a desirable tint of culture?

DOES ODENSE HAVE ROOM FOR AN ART ACADEMY?

Photo: Funen Art Academy at Brandts

This is one question that has already been raised and discussed in the past few years - it usually comes up whenever the city council is negotiating their next budget, and there are rarely any visions for solutions beyond balancing the accounts.

Instead of discussing whether the City is allowed to fund an institute of higher education, we should be talking about why it is important to have an art academy in our city. Could the art academy anchor a new creative scene on the harbour? What kind of art might arise from establishing a alternative cultural centre? Could it create an enviromnent attractive to more people than the art students themselves?

Might it challenge the mentality of headless progress that has lead to a massive billboard lighting up the city with commercials for the airport canteen and Svendborg, day and night? And what is the Art Academy itself currently doing to ensure its future existence?

DO OUR MASSIVELY FUNDED LIBRARIES LIVE UP TO THEIR POTENTIAL?

Photo: Odense Kommune - the new “Borgernes Hus”

The city’s libraries receive DKK 70 mio.  in yearly funding, and, seen together, as a result, they could be called one of the largest cultural institution in Odense. The institution also distinguishes itself by having branches located all over the city; a potential to cater to and interact with a very broad spectrum of citizens.

Running a library in 2017 must be somewhat similar to planning a city of self-driving cars: the possibilites are revolutionary, but no one knows what the future holds and there is a danger of destroying something that already works in favour of something uncertain.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the best option is to continue shelving books and just wait for time to make the choice for you. Næsby Library started the Harry Potter Festival in a back room 15 years ago and now service 15,000 visitors for that event alone each year.

The Music Library was hosting and creating some of the most interesting and challenging cultural events in the city before they were given the unwelcome task of being the main library while Borgernes Hus was underway. What will become of their energetic ideas in their new, gilded setting at the central station?

And why is there not a handful of other examples of libraries breaking the mould? The money is there. What might happen at the new Borgernes Hus? Will it finally become a place where people will want to create, hang out, play? Or will it be “yet another library”?

BIG EVENTS - WHO MAKES THEM AND WHO ARE THEY FOR?

Odense has made a name for itself as a site for big events in recent years, thanks to funds from Odense & Co. Events sponsored by this fund have been well-executed on an unprecedented large scale.

This justifiably excites a lot people, but has also raised some eyebrows. Who is these events catering to? Are they for the benefit of current Odensians or do they serve to attract new citizens - and if the latter is true; are these the best events, then, strategically?

How do we strike a balance between buying events from professional Danish/ international event organizers and supporting local organizers who may not have the same ressources, financial or otherwise, but who could anchor the profits as wells as the experience in local talent?

It is a difficult queston. Could local forces have organized Tinderbox on the same scale and with equal success? No, probably not. And the same could be said for a number of smaller events in the same category. There IS a difference when it comes to skill, experience and turnover. Yet what happens to all of that when the organizers move on and go back where they came from; when the money leaves?

It has been integral to the strategy to ground know-how locally, but has it been successfully done? There is no doubt that the local commercial event organizers are frustrated. Are they right to be?

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD - MAKE YOUR MARK ON THE CITY!

S o. What do our future representatives in public office think about all this? Do they even have an opinion? Who and what do the arts serve? What are the hidden possibilites in Odense? Which cultural institutions have the potential to do better, and how do we foster a distinct cultural scene, whose influence reaches across Danish borders while maintaining a clear Odensian spirit? Is there room for dreams of more than counting pennies in next year’s political plans? Do arts and culture mainly serve to create growth and attract new citizens or is there inherent value in this field?

These are some of our concerns and questions for the future. What do you think? Are we far off? What is the most urgent thing for politicians to discuss before the elections? And what do we need to talk about when the elections are over?



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Is Odense just a member's only boy's club for the rich?

Is Odense just a member's only boy's club for the rich?
Opinions | Written by: This Is Odense | Translated by: Pil Lindgreen | Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How wonderful it is to live in a city whose city hall is not being used by lodges, secret societies, men's clubs, and other elitist, discriminating and anti-democratic activities. How good and how important it is that we no longer use this people's building for wealthy parties for tie-clad notabilities who divide and conquer the city amongst themselves while toasting each other's good health... or, rather:

A DINNER FOR FEW

For those of you who did not happen to pass through the city centre last week (on Tuesday, June 13), here is what happened: Odense Kongelig Borgerlige Privilegerede Skyttelaug (The Royal Priviliged Shooter's Guild in Odense), founded in 1704 and for more than 300 year succesfully keeping women out of its membership, celebrated itself at Odense City Hall. Even the royal family seems to have a better equal opportunity policy than the shooter's guild. Impressive.

Every member was in black tie and full costume. Time to eat, sing, and shoot. And pat each other on the back - maybe strike a few deals under the table. Who knows? The motives for their brotherhood are hazy at best. It is not that far-fetched to imagine that a fellow-guildman's handshake is more decisive than energy, entrepreneurship and good ideas if you want to start a something in Odense. The overarching feeling is that we are not equal in this city.    

And that is a frightening prospect: That guilds like these with parties like this one are still a thing. Not only do they exist; they are happy to display the absurdity of it in front of the rest of us in broad daylight, as if there was nothing to be ashamed about.
You would think the absurdity of fatcats wearing green garden gnome buttons parading in the street to the sound of a brass band would be obvious to them. But you would be wrong.

BUT DOES IT REALLY MATTER?

Yes! Not just anyone is invited into these circles; that is the whole point. The guild mainly counts politicians, wealthy businessmen, influential board members, directors, men of power. A who's who of good old-fashioned philistines.


Most striking is perhaps their own Eldermen's portrait - like all guilds, their structure is hierarchical - featuring the director of Odense Cityforening and H.C. Andersen Festivals, the biggest property developer on Funen, the biggest hotel-owner in Odense, a former high-ranking director of energy giant Grundfos, an administrative director of a holding company (family-owned since 1820), and an IT-milionnaire, all posing with a happy smile. 

 It is not just business leaders meeting in ceremonial garb at these parties, however. The trinity of power is amply represented by members of city council, police and court coming together in a symbolic toast.

SE BILLEDER FRA FYENS STIFTSTIDENDES REPORTAGE FRA FESTLIGHEDERNE I 2011.

 

And to complete the picture, the main sponsor of the whole thing is our local media house, Fyns Stiftstidende; the newspaper that in reality holds a media monopoly on the city and is more obligated than anyone else to reveal shady dealings and evening out democratic irregularities.

SE LISTEN OVER SKYTTELAUGETS SPONSORER HER

SO WHY IS THIS STILL A THING?


If we are getting a little agitated here, it might be because this kind of power imbalance corrupts not only the democratic process but also the public forum for debate. And that is difficult to swallow. One might be led to believe that a few privileged and powerful men are running the city according to their own interests. And they are not even trying to hide it.
It is a demoralizing thought, not least to all those who are struggling - often as volunteers and in unpaid jobs - to create a better future for the city.

But back to the question: how is this still a thing? How can a public, municipal building like City Hall play host to an antiquated men's-only guild in 2017? Most people would probably agree that that kind of thing would have been laughable even a century ago.
There are special exceptions in the City Hall guidelines for use of its public venue (which has the otherwise unequivocal premise that all events taking place there "must be public and open to all": exceptions are made for organisations with "tradition", even if it means excluding half the population.


Considering all of this, is it any wonder that Odense struggles to move forward?
If this kind of thing took place on Copenhagen's central square, rest assured that every daily newspaper would be quick to cover it and hold those participating accountable. Is Odense really so small a city and so confined a community that no one dares to utter dissent even as the ridiculous anachronism is on public display?

LET'S AGREE ON SOMETHING ...

  We aren't asking for much. We don't expect this article to change the power balance in the city overnight. But can't we agree on one thing? Let's not host any more guild parties that exclude half the population at City Hall. Let's agree that symbols matter - no matter how jocular the framing, we are all signing off on the hopelessly outdated principles of the shooter's guild when we welcome their festivities at City Hall.

 

This Is Odense and Dansk Kvindesamfund Odense offer the suggestion that this should mark the last time that a shooter's guild party took place at Odense City Hall, and that the party will be open to members of all genders in the future, no matter the location.

[Images used in this article are based on the televised coverage of the shooter's guild festivities on Tv2Fyn. Tv2Fyn are not affiliated in any way with this article]



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The problem with temporary culture

The problem with temporary culture
Opinions | Written by: Anders Skovgaard | Translated by: Pil Lindgreen | Thursday, May 25, 2017

TEMPORARY PLACES CREATE TEMPORARY CULTURE BY AND FOR TEMPORARY PEOPLE IN A TEMPORARY CITY

I have been organizing cultural events since I was 17 years old and I have a lot of under my belt by now. And yet, there are still a lot of unpredictable factors that make it impossible to plan everything. While I consider that a good thing, it has become clear to me that the nature of a space is the most decisive factor in creating the best experience for both artists and audiences.

The place you have to work with decides what kind of culture might grow there. There is no such thing as an all-purpose stage, nor universal events. So in order to ensure the greatest possible diversity in a city, you must have a variety of stages. It is hardly rocket science - but if city planners and political advisors are not reminded of this fact on a regular basis, it tends to be overlooked in the rush towards a more effective city. And Odense is no exception.

Odense lacks cultural spaces. Not generic ones; specific ones. No more white-walled office buildings, multi-venues, glass facades, or temporary store fronts converted to stages; what it lacks is grimy basements, old factories, derelict slaughterhouses; the cathedrals of underground culture, that harmoniously embrace the artistst that are not listed in any strategic memo or in pamphlets outlining political goals. Artists, who do not plan their art according to an idea of market growth; who are artists because they just can't help it.    

I am talking curated underground - the kind that like a delicate plant needs sunlight, quiet and space in order to take root - as well as wild, deep underground - the self-made, do-it-now-ask-later crowd that serves as a valve to let out steam in any congealed conversation.

"We lose the FIERY souls, if the framework is not there"

Even if these places appear in the city, they always do so for a limited time or in temporary form: Odense has somehow managed to make temporary plans central to its current cultural politics. It has fostered a makeshift practice, where artists have to scramble from place to place without settling in or assuming ownership over a local grounding of their work. It is no surprise that it sends destabilizing waves through the creative system, complicating the relationship between artists and audiences, as well as alienating off-kilter artists who then are not able to establish a setting for their work.  Temporary places foster temporary culture by and for tempory people. When we lack the safety of walls and a roof for creativity, we also risk losing the kind of art that takes time to create. And I'm not just making that up.

I have organized countless events at Theatre Momentum over the course of the past eight years, and the rate with which I receive requests from bands, film professionals and theatre troupes for an open stage is alarming. And while we at Momentum try to fit in as much culture as possible, theatre is our main priority. Yet we know by now how difficult it is to find an open stage in this city willing to play along and help off-kilter ideas or even just open their doors for one night of high-octane strangeness. This kind of openness requires a certain amount of resources, more hands on deck, sure, but an open mind and no rules go a long way. 

I imagine I am not alone in lamenting the loss of Badstuen, a true breeding (under)ground with workshop activity and open doors. It housed minds that had no other home. The same goes for the old Studenterhus at Klosterbakken, which, despite (or because of) its thrashed interiors could accommodate events that had no chance anywhere else in town.

Other honourable mentions include Skibssmeden at the Harbour, and the former slaughterhouses, Odense Offentlige Slagtehuse. More recently, we had to part with Sukkerkogeriet, which despite being the ideal physical setting for a wide range of arts and culture is now being converted into apartments. Creatives have protested, to no avail.

Skibssmeden

Odense Offentlige Slagtehuse

Sukkerkogeriet

Actions such as these are regrettable developments that might endanger the continued existence (or even beginnings) of alternative culture in this city. The place shapes the event. That is my experience. And there are still places that keep the anarchic spirit alive and set their space free to be used by  dreamers. Good examples include concert organizers Røde Himmel blossoming at Ungdomshuset and becoming an important player in the youthful music scene in Odense. But it is also noticeable that they need other spaces to progress to - and that is the decisive moment when the city risks losing its brightest creatives because of a lack of physical framework.

Then there is Studenterhuset, but it seems to be fighting an ongoing battle for the right to set the mood in its own space and remains stuck between trying to be an ideal study space and an ideal music venue. There is no easy solution to that problem, but the end result is something much more municipal than is ideal.

Last and least is Kulturmaskinen, originally framed as the heir to Badstuen, but it has never managed to rise to the former's level as an alternative cultural scene, which is a shame. Their latest move has been to outsource their bars and café to a private contractor; not a step in the right direction. Kulturmaskinen recently had a change in leadership, and who knows, it might make a difference; but only if it means a massive overhaul of the interiors, decor, communication and event organizing.

"We're Missing the scope of cultivating the alternative and the free"

The most recent addition to the city's stages is ODEON, future home of the academies of performing arts and music as well as Odense Teater and and touring theatre groups. It is big but has neither the ambience or the edge that would be required to invite good content, and their "open stage", Byens Scene, has been placed slapdash in an inconvenient space right in the middle of the foyer as some sort of unwelcome pot plant. Artists and audiences alike seems to disregard it. It probably seemed like a "fun idea" to someone in the decision process. The rest of the house is just glass, sheen, shine and bad taste, which goes well with conferences, Linie 3 and City Singler. And that is probably all we will get from that end.

Byens Scene, ODEON

Fortunately, new places are cropping up, too: In the old FAF-building - a former Phono venue - Dynamo has been established as the home of new circus artists TinCan Company. And in Storms Parkhus, a streetfood fair with resident artisans  is currently underway.

FAF-bygningen (Dynamo)

Storms Pakhus

Independent art space Kunsthal Ulys and organizer's collective Kulturklyngen are also currently working hard to allow Siloøen to remain free to become a cultural space and not just developed and rebuilt. They hope to be able to establish an innovative haven for off-kilter minds; a place where open stages might hos free exhibitions garage bands and upcoming theatre troupes. And the idea is to secure a space where no one will make rules except the people who make art.

Dynamo

Kunsthal Ulys [Transformationer, 2017]

Sadly - and that is getting at the heart of the matter - many of these initiatives are only temporary or have already been kicked out of their spaces, as if culture were merely a way to pass the time until the right buyer comes along with plans for apartments and a checkbook. TinCan, for example, is only renting on a limited contract, and for now Siloøen is only safe until someone says otherwise. It is a real shame, and the result might end up being that those who can and will make a difference are kept from creating something durable, becauses their spaces keep disappearing.

Siloøen

If open stages and small, dedicated spaces disappear, alternative culture will follow suit. And that leaves us with nothing but art and culture  that is made for white walls and huge glass facades and whose primary attraction is that it is temporary.

Vi skal i stedet være modige nok til at give stederne fri til, at borgere og brugere selv kan definere rammerne for deres aktiviteter. Det ville ikke kræve meget mere end plads. Ingen ekstra bevillinger, bare et vedvarende rummeligt sted og måske hjælp til at oprette et brugerpanel, der kan starte det op. Resten skal de opfindsomme odenseanere nok selv klare, hvis blot rammerne er tilpas vide. Se f.eks. på Frederiksøen i Svendborg, Polymeren i Årslev og ikke mindst Falsetten i Faaborg, hvor jeg selv har været aktiv i nogle år. Totalt brugerstyret, flad struktur og folkelig opbakning uden yderligere kommunal indgriben, men blot med plads til at være uforstyrret længe nok. Hvis Faaborg og Svendborg kan, så kan Odense vel også.

Liberate the spaces!



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Posters are art - liberate the fences!

Posters are art - liberate the fences!
Opinions | Written by: Mira Erik | Translated by: Irina Antonescu | Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The city center went slow motion due to massive rebuilding. This means at least one great thing: lots of construction fences! And lots of construction fences means plenty of space to hang your posters on.

Under Livet, Odense

Leipzig, Germany

Leipzig

Leipzig, Germany

But, no, wait! You can't do that??!! "It's considered commercial enterprise if Røde Himmel hang up posters for their concert because they earn money for it, and it's not allowed to advertise for commercial interest," says the municipality, guarding the fences, "they are reserved for selected and funded street art". The municipality's citizen-oriented redevelopment unit, Fra Gade til By (From Street to City), says no to poster art - because it is not categorized as art.

"THE MUNICIPALITY says no to poster art"

But poster art is art. It has been ever since Toulouse-Lautrec made the first posters for Moulin Rouge in 1892:

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paris 1892

The poster is style, the poster is analog, the poster is wallpaper and material, it's skills, it's knack, it's status, it's immediate environment, it's dedication, it's aesthetics, it's rhetoric, it's bait, it's flirt, it's 'come', it's art.

Therefore, emergency call to the municipality on liberalization and (anti)action: Liberate the fences!

Peter Pan, Leipzig

Leipzig, Germany

Or, the poster can be art. If the blood runs through the veins, and not everything is reduced to settlement and turnover to those who present their things. Therefore,

Emergency call for love and call for action to the cultural institutions and artists: Let the poster art free!

We want you, we crave for your blood and we dream of your art. Choke us with beauty, call on us and bother us. Then we come.

Røde Himmel, Odense

Klub Golem, Odense

Den Røvsmalle Biograf, Odense

The Art Academy, Odense

"We dream of your art. choke us with beauty"

More Røde Himmel, Odense

Unknown, Odense

SLIME, teenage warning in Leipzig, Germany

all the empty places, Leipzig

Simple, good, in Leipzig

Tear it up, graphic designers! Leipzig, Germany

The naughty (where did these ones dissapear?)

And the time-consuming? Here's linoleum print from DDK (Denmark's Democratic Women's Federation)

We want to be lured by the building fences, so we know that the city is alive, while it grows.

/Mira

 

 

 



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The city is changing. So is This Is Odense

The city is changing. So is This Is Odense
Opinions | Written by: This Is Odense | Translated by: Pil Lindgreen | Wednesday, April 19, 2017

When This Is Odense first saw the light of day in 2013, we asked a rhetorical question: "Is anything happening in Odense today?". "Damn right there is" was our constant answer. Our mission has been to spread the word that this city is better than its reputation. We wanted to tell the story of the city's hidden events and secret places, lightly slap the wrists of the lazy, and inspire more Odensians to take active part in their city.

Four years on, and no one questions that Odense has a lot to offer. Back in 2013, we were thrilled whenever it was possible to round up five really good events in any given week; today we often struggle to choose among the overwhelming number of great things taking place at the same time. More is happening than ever before, and the city is widening and stretching its capacity in every direction.

But the debate on content and quality has not kept pace with this change. We are still stuck on the same questions: Should we go back or go forward? Was Odense a better place when nothing changed, or is every new thing a change for the better? Is the light rail system the right choice? Are suburbian developments more important than densifying the city centre? This discussion leaves little room for nuance - we lose sight of content and instead turn into either naysayers and cheerleaders.

"We count empty store fronts instead of discussing which stores we would like to see open" 

This leaves us all looking at the visitor count at Brandts as a parameter of success, instead of discussing whether an art museum should buy a Disney exhibition without critical reflection. And it leaves us talking about the wardrobe facilities at Odeon instead of asking whether Odeon's programme offers anything that the city did not already have. We count empty store fronts instead of discussing which stores we would like to see open. We reduce being a big city to positions for and against a billboard on our tallest building, and to the number of new houses being built, instead of focusing on their quality.

 

This Is Odense, renewed

In many ways, Odense no longer finds itself in a moment of crisis. That means that we Odensians have time to ask ourselves if we are on the right track. Are those changes for the better good enough? Can they get even better? The purpose of This Is Odense has changed in the four years that have passed since 2013, too, and this week we have launched the biggest change to our format so far.

"Goodbye to the five weekly event recommendations"

Goodbye to five weekly event recommendations that were often much longer than anyone cared to read, thus defying their own purpose.

This is what the new version of This Is Odense looks like: A city guide that points the way to the best places Odense has offer. Four short recommendations that provide a quick-but-qualified overview of each week's best events. And a free-format weekly article where our writers can go deeper with stories about the city with a more or less critical bent; photo editorials on the forgotten backyard clothes-lines of Bolbro; opinion pieces on the municipal rules for art in public spaces, or on Odeon's booking profile; feature articles on artists or scenes, portraits of local personalities; the list goes on.

"We aim to be a place of discussion about quality of the city's content and development"

And finally, expect occasional deviations from that pattern: We might invite knowledgable guests to assess and debate the city's cultural life, feature a series of articles on policy issues in preparation for the city election, or let the most recently arrived Odensians give the rest of us a good kick in the rear.

This Is Odense aims to be a place of discussion about quality of the city's content and development. We are not short on opinions, but we would like to invite our readers to participate in the conversation about what Odense is and where we are going; not whether we should move backward or forward, but what forward means to each of us.

Odense is not just a status quo, and it is not self-evident what it might become. Odense is what we make it.

 

What do you hope for the new This Is Odense? Write a comment below



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This Is Odense