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Gentrification forces Reverberation to look for new premises

23 of March '22

Reverberation - a music club, but also a grassroots community center, run as a social cooperative - is about to lose its headquarters. In a petition to the city government, its creators appeal for help in finding a new location. This is yet another example, after Państwomiasto or the Press Bar, of Warsaw's lack of a proper housing, spatial and cultural policy and support for gentrification processes that are destroying the color of the city.

Pogłos is a social cooperative run by a group of musicians, art managers and promoters, whose main field of activity is the organization of concerts, parties and cultural events. The club is located in a building at 12 Burakowska Street, which formerly housed the Central House of Qulture. Here, fans of techno, punk as well as drag or bingo amateurs will find an offer for themselves. The cooperative has also been involved in aid campaigns and benefits for equality parades, manif, people working on the Polish-Belarusian border, supported campaigns related to animal rights and the climate crisis, and more recently aid initiatives for those affected by the war in Ukraine.

end of the deal

Pogłos

photo by Kacper Kepinski

The ongoing season, however, will be the last at the current location. The premises are leased to Reverberation by the city, which has already sent signals about the possible end of the cooperation. In 2021, despite the loosening of pandemic restrictions, the club could not open due to protracted problems with the renewal of the lease agreement on the part of the city. Eventually the document was signed, but only for a year. Its term is now coming to an end. During meetings with representatives of Pogłos, officials of the Wola district, where the building is located, pledged support in finding new premises.

unreflective gentrification

Since 2016 when Pogłos began operations, the immediate neighborhood has almost completely changed its face. Situated between the Powazki Cemetery and Zoliborz, it has been the arena of increasing developer activity for several years. On the plot next to the club, the construction of the Forest office building is now nearing completion, and there is no shortage of new housing developments around. With the demolition of the famous Czarny Kot hotel, the city decided to sell plots of land in the immediate area. With this decision came problems for the Reverberation. The authority is planning "coherent urban frontage" at the site, and points to a change in the character of the neighborhood, which no longer has room for a music club.

Forest

Forest

photo by HB Reavis

This approach is a textbook example of gentrification. As a result of the actions of the city and investors, the character of the neighborhood and the value of the property have changed, the previous users of the space are pushed out of it, and almost nothing is left of the local color. At the same time, it is disturbing how much the perception of gentrification itself has changed in recent years, which from a concept with negative connotations indicating processes that hit residents and local communities, has become almost synonymous with revitalization in public discussion. The term is used in a positive context not only by developers, but also happens to be used by city authorities.

A vibrant city cannot be limited to developer housing estates interspersed with office parks, where the only services are frog shops and drugstores. In order to build a diverse and vibrant fabric that is resilient to changing economic factors and builds a sense of belonging and ties in the local community, not-for-profit places are needed. Reverberation is such a place.

petition

Those running the Pogłos club have turned to the Mayor of Warsaw and the capital's Culture Bureau with a petition. In it they appeal for help in talks with districts and city units that may have premises allowing the continuation of social-cultural activities and the music club.

Your vote will enable us to show what kind of place Pogłos is - not a nightclub, but a grassroots and culture-creating, valuable and important point on the map of Warsaw. A point where, from the very first day of its activity, it was about something more than drinking beer with music. A place without which independent culture in the city would lose a lot.

authors of the petition

The petition is available online at naszademokracja.pl, so far more than 1,800 people have signed the letter.

państwaomiasto

The story of Pogłos is not the first such action by Warsaw authorities, where important centers of animation of urban life are being erased from the map of the capital as a result of decisions motivated by economics and the desire to achieve ill-conceived spatial order. The won battle for the Press Bar, or the deprivation of the premises of Państwomiasto are perhaps the best examples. The latter, not so far from Pogłos, changed the face of Muranów, bringing life to a dead section of Andersa Street. After six years of operation, however, the Association Projekt:Polska, which ran the establishment, was unable to bear the subsequent rent increases imposed by the city. Eventually the club café had to vacate the premises, which then stood empty for several months due to a lack of interest from tenants. Thus, the city not only lost a valuable activator of public space, but its finances were also affected. Państwomiasto in its new formula began operating in one of the Finnish houses in Jazdów. Let's hope that Reverb will also find a new venue for itself in the immediate vicinity.

new world of music

Nowy Świat Muzyki

photo: Eliot100 / Wikimapia

Such a chance was not given to Nowy Świat Muzyki recently - the center in Nowy Swiat, run by the Smolna Association, will have to vacate the premises and cease operations. This is the result of launching a competition for the lease of an attractive space. Although the selection through a competition is the best way to select new tenants of premises intended for cultural activities, it should not disturb the continuity of functioning or stability of employment in already operating institutions. After all, it is hard to build a local community based on ever-changing conditions. The city should provide stable and secure conditions for cultural activities, which are often carried out on the verge of profitability.

Kacper Kępiński

The vote has already been cast

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