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Center for contemporary arts in the Klosterstrasse, Berlin, existed 1992-2004.

As part of a national and international network of cooperating partners, Podewil initiated and supported the newest developments in the field of music (curator by Elke Moltrecht), theatre and performance art (curated by Aenne Quinones), dance (curated by Ulrike Becker and André Theriault) and media art (curated by Andreas Broeckmann).

Since its founding, approximately 2500 individual artists and groups contributed to the development of Podewil as a venue for cutting-edge, experimental projects that have enjoyed huge acclaim both nationally as well as internationally. A considerable role was also played by the spatial and technical resources of the house itself: the structure includes a club, a foyer, a multifunctional hall, a rehearsal stage, a dance studio, several rehearsal rooms and artists’ studios.

Between 1995 and 2003, more than 40 artists and ensembles worked in the Podewil ateliers as artists in residence, including Xavier Le Roy (1996-2001), zeitkratzer (2000-2002) and Gob Squad (2000-2002). These artists represent some of the younger (and in those days not yet established) artists who were provided professional working conditions by Podewil for the first time in their careers; from there, they went on to achieve larger recognition and international celebrity. As a capable partner of the artists, Podewil worked together with them in searching for and finding up-to-date means of production and development.

The array of festivals, program series and projects that evolved over the years in the most wide-ranging formats are testimony to the unorthodox methods and the lively exchange that characterized this venue. To mention just a few: MontagsMusik, thematic music festivals (“Intonations – In selten guter Stimmung”, “off-ICMC”, “x-tract CHICAGO”, “x-tract Sculpture Musicale”, etc.), “reich & berühmt”, “KÖRPERSTIMMEN – Tanz und Performance International” and the open-air summer program.

Some of the festivals and program series that were originally hosted by Podewil have moved to other sites. The “transmediale – international media art festival berlin” (at Podewil from 1993 - 2001) now takes place (since 2002) at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. The “Literarischer Salon Britta Gansebohm”, has been presented at the BKA Theatre since the beginning of this year. The building in the Klosterstrasse will, however, continue to be a venue for the festival “Tanz im August – Internationales Tanzfest“, which has been presented at Podewil since 1992.

Background on the closing of Podewil

The closure of Podewil was decided by the supervisory board of the Berliner Kulturveranstaltungs-GmbH (BKV). In 2004, the supervisory board, presided over by the Senator for Cultural Affairs, Thomas Flierl, announced a public invitation to tender the artistic management of the venue in the Klosterstrasse. Prior to this, the contract of Wilhelm Grossmann, managing director of the BKV since 1995 and program director of the Podewil since 1998, had been terminated. The new public tender signified the end of a long struggle to maintain Podewil with its distinguished profile as a forum for contemporary artistic production of all types.

In 2002, Podewil was threatened for the first time by budget cuts of €750,000 which would have meant its immediate closure. As a result of massive protests by the arts community in Germany and abroad, the cuts were partially withdrawn. Nevertheless, the reduction in financial support by the city in the years 2002-2003 were substantial, making it extremely difficult to carry on high quality programming. Ultimately, in 2004, due to repeated budget cuts, program continuity was no longer possible. Established series such as “KÖRPERSTIMMEN” were confronted with cutbacks of 50 percent, program highlights such as the thematic music festivals and the popular “Sommerfest” had to be cancelled. On the top of that, due to the uncertain future of the venue, it became more difficult to raise funds for projects that depended on outside financing such as the performance festival “reich & berühmt”.

The winner of the public tender for management of the facility beginning in 2005, chosen from among ten applications, was the concept proposed by Carsten Seiffarth, Detlev Schneider and Andreas Broeckmann for the media art laboratory Tesla.

Media art artists-in-residence

1999/2000 Mathilde ter Heijne (NL), 1999/2000 Claudia Aravena Abughosh (Chile), 2000/2001 Irene Andessner (A), 2001 codelab (D/IL/A/BRA) (associated artists 2002), 2002 HC Gilje (N), 2003 Sylvain Barbier (F), Christopher L. Salter (D/USA), 2004 Julien Maire (F). link