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Art Creates Work

Elbe Islands Creative Quarter

Stoffdeck 24h IBA Stoffdeck Siebdruck Wilhelmsburger Kissen - Kunst macht Arbeit, Bild: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Bente Stachowske Stoffdeck Atelier Stoffdeck Swimp Wilhelmsburger Kissen Naeherinnen


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Elbe Islands Creative Quarter

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Art Creates Work


IBA Hamburg tackled the challenge of explicitly interpreting the topic of creative economies for the Elbe islands. What district would be better suited for going in a new direction than Wilhelmsburg, which does not limit itself to the conventional agents of the cultural and creative industries but also advocates creative development with broad acceptance. IBA Hamburg feels its role is to stimulate all of the projects, not to be a project developer.

But how do creative industries and the district Wilhelmsburg fit together? In order to make this more specific and to start generating ideas, the IBA had invited more than 200 experts of art and culture, science, politics and administration to the conference 'IBA LABOR: Kreative Ökonomien – und ihre Übersetzbarkeit auf Stadtteilebene' [IBA LABORATORY: Creative economy and how to implement it in urban districts] at the venue 'Kampnagel' in June 2008.

The conference served as a starting point to clarify the following questions: Which creative and public impulses are needed to initiate creative industries? What requirements do creative persons have to meet when they wish to start up a business? And what employment opportunities will the creative industries provide?

The results of the conference can be read in the same-named publication which you can download here.

Many different projects have developed from this conference and been realised during the following years under the subject 'Kunst macht Arbeit' [Art Creates Work]. In all projects, artists and other creative people were working together with non-profit institutions or with participants of occupational integration projects.


“There are people from many nations in Wilhelmsburg. Many languages are spoken and many lives are lived here. Everyone is at home with their native language. When we lay our head on a pillow, we are at home. Language is identity, patterns are identity, shapes and decorations are identity.”

Since the early summer of 2011, a cooperative project named the “Wilhelmsburger Kissen” [“Wilhelmsburg Pillows”] project has been held between the Hamburg artist Rupprecht Matthies and Grone Netzwerk gGmbH’s textile workshop “NähGut”, a professional integration project for the long-term unemployed. Together with the Hamburg artist, participants provided their own words and concepts in their native languages which were then used to manufacture more than 50 individual artistic pillows. The visualisation of language not only shows the diversity of the residents of the Elbe islands, but the language pillows also enable the different language worlds and nationalities on the Elbe islands to be experienced together.


KRIMI-KOMÖDIE WILHELMSBURG [Wilhelmsburg Crime-Comedy]

Starting October 2011

Theatre instructor and future user of the Kunst- & Kreativzentrum Veringhöfe [Veringhöfe Arts & Creative Centre] Paula Zamora-Cornejo is developing a play together with the long-term unemployed of the social support agencies A.I.W. (Arbeitsloseninitiative Wilhelmsburg [Wilhelmsburg Unemployed Initiative]), SBB Kompetenz gGmbH (Stiftung Berufliche Bildung Wilhelmsburg [Wilhelmsburg Professional Education Foundation]) and Grone Netzwerk gGmbH. The objective of the project, which is planned to last one year, is to create a modern western which ironically addresses existing prejudices of the urban district. Participants are to discover a creative way of eliminating and/or handling the frustration that comes from unemployment and the prejudices that they often face. Not only does the urban district play a role in the form of it participants, but the environment is also incorporated in 3 film sequences. The crime that forms the basis of the story in the play is to be developed together. This project intends to sustainably strengthen the personality, self-confidence and self-image of the participants while expression and acting are promoted through the development and performance of the play with film sequences.



The “Musik von den Elbinseln!” [“Music of the Elbe Islands!”] network connects those currently active in the music world with expertise, creates synergy effects and determines what is needed. Since 2007, the platform of the Bürgerhaus Wilhelmsburg [City Hall Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg] has connected those in the urban district’s music world - from music producers to music teachers to the event locations and companies involved in the music industry of the Elbe islands.

The objective is to bring together the musical potential of the Elbe islands and to strengthen and promote promising models in the field of the music industry with the help of various projects. In the long-term, a new addition to the Bürgerhaus Wilhelmsburg [City Hall Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg] is planned which is to include practice rooms, a rehearsal stage and a start-up centre called “MusikWirtschaft” [“MusicIndustry”]. The city hall is thereby reaction to the need for networking, performance and practice options as well as the demand for suitable areas for these activities on the Elbe islands.

Musik & Brunch [Music & Brunch] on the IBA DOCK

A monthly musical event series called “Musik & Brunch” [“Music & Brunch”] has been held on the IBA DOCK since June of 2011. The cooperative project between IBA Hamburg and the “Netzwerk für Musik von den Elbinseln” [“Network for Music of the Elbe Islands”] offers musicians from the Elbe islands a new and reliable stage.

Each third Sunday of the month, those who are interested can start the day by enjoying a generous brunch while listening to the musical talents of the Elbe islands. The first date in the series on 19 June featured the young musicians Derya and Duygu from Veddel, whose performance spanned the entire range of Turkish music. The Kako Weiss Ensemble followed on 17 July and thrilled the audience with virtuoso gypsy jazz. Kako Weiss is the saxophonist of the well-known Cafe Royal Salonorchester ensemble. On 21 August, Suely Lauar, Kouakou de Souza and Erol Arslan played traditional songs from their respective cultures (of origin). The band Tabasco followed in September, making its first live appearance on the IBA DOCK. It thrilled the audience with ballroom swing from the 1920s. In October, singer-songwriter and pop musician Cyrus Ashrafi presented an instrumental ambient project with his "days of delay".


ExTra! Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg. Exchange Traditions 2011

18 June 2011


The intercultural music festival “ExTra! Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg” was held for the third time in 2011. As a platform for traditions that otherwise only take place within their cultural contexts, i.e. within the framework of a Turkish wedding or a Sunday church service, the festival enables a very special exchange in the Community Hall Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg each year. Those who were interested were invited to find out more about the musical traditions within the urban district in sound workshops and short concerts and to experience the sound worlds of the Elbe islands as they present themselves in sight and sound.

ExTra! Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg is a project of the Stiftung Bürgerhaus Wilhelmsburg [Community Hall Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg Foundation]/Netzwerk für Musik von den Elbinseln [Network for Music of the Elbe Islands] in cooperation with the Landesmusikrat Hamburg [State Music Council of Hamburg] & the European Music Council. It was accompanied by experts in the fields of musicology, ethnology and representatives of the European Music Council and was sponsored by IBA Hamburg.



The project idea

Within the framework of the “Kunst macht Arbeit” [“Art Creates Work”] workshop organised by IBA Hamburg, the idea of a “Zentrum für Kreativität, Lokale Ökonomie und Qualifizierung” [“Centre for Creativity, Local Economy and Quality Enhancement”] (working title) in the building complex at Am Veringhof 7 was developed in 2008. The project was planned to consolidate and integrate various thematic areas of activity – local economy, education and training, quality enhancement, integration, sport, culture and recreation – in an intermixed and compartmentalised infrastructure that suits everyone’s needs. The existing building at Am Veringhof 7, an old factory building on the Veringkanal [Vering Canal], was to be energetically refurbished for this. New jobs in the commerical sector and in the business establishment sector as well as professional preparation and training positions were to be successively created via publicly sponsored activity.

The current status

In the meantime, short-term rental spaces in the neighbouring building Am Veringhof 9-21 have led to some interested tenants realising their planned concepts in the neighbouring building now. In February of 2010, Grone Netzwek GmbH moved the “Freie Textilwerkstatt” [“Free Textile Workshop”] from its atelier into Am Veringhof 9. Since then, this address has also been the location of the “NähGut” non-profit workshop - a professional integration project for the long-term unemployed that has been able to create five sponsored jobs, four self-financed training positions and 32 employment opportunities since February 2010. With the creation of a children’s collection, the furnishing of plays, offers for sewing courses in a free workshop and contract work for the commercial sector, a large step forward has already been made in the first year of business.





Do the unemployed make art? Do they work? Is work only that for which one is paid and art only that which is made by professional artists? Why are self-determined creative activities rarely considered to be work even though artists call their creations “works” of art? Why is the working world so free of art and other-directed even though the “creative class” is given so much lip service?

The Kunst Werk Wilhelmsburg [Art Work Wilhelmsburg] project was established to provide new answers to these questions. The independent cooperative project between the unemployed, artists and social support agencies has set its sights on investigating the concept of work in its relationship to the arts in practice. Sustainable and socially recognised structures for the creatively active unemployed are to be discussed and the traditional wage-dependent concept of work is to be broken down. Kunst Werk Wilhelmsburg [Art Work Wilhelmsburg] viewed itself as a type of art – “art in the public interest”. IBA Hamburg functioned as a catalyst and sponsored the project.

The unemployed, local artists and social support agencies worked together in the projects. A “hard core” of 16 members developed the project in terms of content, organisation and financing, then came a larger group of interested parties. The group considered examples of types of activity in the age of unemployment and reflected on the concept of work. Courses, workshops and self-designed fields of activity created an opportunity to separate themselves from the conventional concept of work.

The project team included the long-term unemployed, the A.I.W. (Arbeitslosen Initiative Wilhelmsburg [Wilhelmsburg Unemployed Initiative]), SBB Kompetenz gGmbH (Stiftung Berufliche Bildung Wilhelmsburg [Wilhelmsburg Professional Education Foundation]), Lotse (the Verein für psychosoziale Hilfe [Psychosocial Aid Association] on Fährstraße), Raimund Samson (Wilhelmsburg artist and head of the association Kunstbüro Wilhelmsburg e.V. [Wilhelmsburg Arts Office]) and Michaela Placzek (Hamburg artist). Adam Page (Berlin and Dresden artist) and Anke Haarmann (Hamburg project artists and curator) have provided consulting and assistance for the project since its starting phase.






This project would like to make the best possible use of the unused potential for cycling tourism in the urban district. The objective is to make cycling popular on the Elbe Island and to promote cultural tourism as a significant component of the local economy. The offers are supplemented by bicycle service and rental as well as special cycling tours over the island. Cooperation with employment agencies enables the long-term unemployed to be integrated and employed in this project.

The first “Fahrradfest” [“Cycle Festival”] of the initiative was held on 20 September 2009, where the concept of the “Fahrradstadt Wilhelmsburg” [“Cycle Town Wilhelmsburg”] was first presented to a large audience. The offers ranged from sport shows such as cycle polo to presentations of artistic cycles and a free bicycle check for children and school students. The IBA LABOR RAD [IBA CYCLE LABORATORY] followed on 27/28 May 2010 to start off the Wilhelmsburger Radwoche [Wilhelmsburg Cycle Week], a joint even by IBA Hamburg, igs [International Garden Show Hamburg] 2013 and the Arbeitskreis Fahrradstadt Wilhelmsburg [Cycle Town Wilhelmsburg Working Group]. The objective was to establish cycling as an important part of Elbe Island mobility in people’s minds and in practice.

The “Fahrradstadt Wilhelmsburg” [“Cycle Town Wilhelmsburg”] project team includes: SBB Kompetenz GmbH [Wilhelmsburg Professional Education Foundation], Arbeitsloseninitiative Wilhelmsburg e.V. [Wilhelmsburg Unemployed Initiative], alsterdorf assistenz west, KuBaSta e.V. [Association for Art, Construction and Urban Development] and the Verein Zukunft Elbinsel Wilhelmsburg e.V [Wilhelmsburg Association for the Future of the Elbe Island].




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STOFFDECK Co-Working Wilhelmsburg
Am Veringhof 13
Kanalgebäude, 2. OG
21107 Hamburg

Textilwerkstatt NähGut
Am Veringhof 9
21107 Hamburg

Wilhelmsburger Edition
Rupprecht Matthies
Admitalitätsstraße 74
20459 Hamburg

Netzwerk für Musik von den Elbinseln
Bürgerhaus Wilhelmsburg
Mengestraße 20
21107 Hamburg


Kunst macht Arbeit [Art Creates Work] is a project series with various cooperative partners.