[artinfo] Urgent Call for International Support of 'Center for Culture & Information "K@2"' Liepajas Karosta, Latvia

Adele Eisenstein adele at c3.hu
Mon Jun 23 06:03:49 CEST 2008

From: andrew paterson <agryfp at gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 18:46:38 +0300
Subject: [spectre] Urgent Call for International Support of 'Center for
        Culture & Information "K at 2"' Liepajas Karosta, Latvia

Dear friends and colleagues,

According to a recent claim by Liepaja City Council (Latvia) the  
Center for Culture & Information &#8220;K at 2&#8221; in Karosta, "no longer exists".
Liepaja authorities says that &#8220;K at 2&#8221; stopped existing already in May  
2006. Why?

This is an urgent call for international support of K at 2's activity,  
in light of an upcoming court case (June 18th 2008) where technically  
K at 2 could cease to exist, and it's activity in Karosta deemed illegal.

The non-profit cultural organization K at 2 is _still based_ in the  
former closed-access Tsarist and Soviet military navy base of  
Karosta, suburb of Liepaja on the West coast of Latvia. http:// www.karosta.lv

The complex of buildings and coordinating persons have been operating  
locally, nationally and internationally since its founding in  
December 2000,  with the aim to stimulate positive changes in the  
society of Karosta by means of art, culture, education, integration  
and cooperation. Its objective at formation was "to create an  
alternative solution for improving the current situation in Karosta  
district by means of forming a body for culture, education, social  
and ethnic integration and cooperation".

K at 2 _still have_ a rental agreement made on a 25 year basis with the  
City Council of Liepaja. Ongoing renovation costs made by K at 2 have  
been reducted from the rent. In the past years K at 2 has suggested  
options to the Council for longer-term solutions to this rental  
agreement, seeking continuity in the future for K at 2's ongoing  
cultural and educational activity.

However, there has been an unwillingness of the Council to secure  
K at 2's right to continue their work. This is despite the fact that  
their activity is internationally renowned and has been seen as an  
exemplary local, national, and international (EU) revered model of  
'arts for social change'. Indeed, it may also be considered as a  
significant factor in the favor of Liepaja, as a potential future  
Latvian European City of Culture in 2014.

Since December 2007, to try and resolve the building rental issue,  
K at 2 have taken the City Council to court in Riga, and have won  
several Court cases in its favor.

However, the latest, admittedly desperate, approach by the Council to  
wrestle future control of the K at 2 buildings and surrounding real- estate has
been to make the legally-technical claim that the  
organization which runs them has 'not existed' since May 2006.

This is despite K at 2 paying both local and national taxes, and  
coordinating various productions and events, including a city- sponsored
Festival in Liepaja and internationally-attended  
conferences. K at 2 has also received both national cultural funds,  
Soros and European Union cultural funds for the period 2007-2008.  As  
well as in 2006 receiving the main National Culture Prize from the  
Latvian Culture of Ministry in the category of &#8220;Best project for the  
Development of the Nation&#8221;.

It appears that K at 2 is caught in a familiar gentrification process,  
which has consequences for the future international cultural image  
and reputation of Liepaja city.

At a time of large-scale renovation of neighboring military  
facilities for NATO training use, there has been an increased  
interest by the City Council in what happens to the nearby buildings,  
and their real-estate value on the edge of the city's special  
economic development zone. Previous, since the suburb and docks were  
released by the Russian military in 1994, there has been a chronic  
lack of social or infrastructural investment by the City Council. The  
majority of renovation work has been done by local residents and K at 2  

The impressive social and regenerating work of an arts cultural  
organization, raising the cultural capital of the region, is in  
danger of being appropriated for economical investments, and  
independent cultural activity marginalized out of existence in the area.

Liepaja City Council should be concerned about its international  
reputation as governers of a creative cultural city, wishing to  
benefit from future cultural and economic benefits given with the  
status of European City of Culture.  It should protect, encourage and  
support wholeheartedly initiatives such as K at 2 in the near and long- term
future, not will for them to no longer exist.

I urgently invite you as a concerned cultural worker, artist,  
developer, activist, organizer and researcher, to support the  
maintenance of K at 2's independent activity in the buildings which they  
currently rent in Liepajas Karosta, on the basis of work they have  
done during the period from 2000-2008.

Please fill in your words of support with the following (or a  
adapted) letter, and fax or send by email to:

Information office of Liepaja City Council:
Fax: +371-3423391
E-mail: apc at dome.liepaja.lv


TO: Mayor of Liepaja City Council

LETTER IN SUPPORT OF The Center for Culture & Information &#8220;K at 2&#8221; IN  

I wish to hereby express my support the maintenance of K at 2's  
independent activity in the buildings which they currently rent in  
Liepajas Karosta, on the basis of work they have done during the  
period from 2000-2008.

As goveners of Liepaja City Council, I believe that you should be  
protecting, encouraging and wholeheartedly supporting initiatives  
such as K at 2 in the near and long-term future, not in court  
challenging the existance the of an internationally-renowned  
independent cultural centre.

My impression of Liepaja as a culturally progressive city is  
partially or wholely based on the work of 'Cultural and Information  
Centre K at 2', and the court cases surrounding their tenancy and their  
legal existance severely discourages my impression of Liepaja as a  
candidate for European City of Culture in 2014.

I hereby endorse the appeal of 'Culture and Information Centre K at 2'  
to the Liepaja Municipality to take steps needed in order to resolve  
the issues surrounding the case in dispute

Yours sincerely,


[Location, Country], [date]

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