"We were virtually overrun. People were really looking for a place where they can meet." This is how Anne Wiederhold, manager of "Brunnenpassage", describes how the project started. She has managed the "KunstSozialRaum" project in Vienna’s 16th district for two and a half years.
Originally planned as a covered market and vacant for a long time, the premises were "discovered" and adapted by Caritas. "This initiative has created a space where people can meet and jointly experience art and culture", says the project manager. "There is a strong sense that people are longing to establish contact with one another."
"Brunnenpassage" is a place where generations and cultures can meet: people who have been living in Vienna’s Ottakring district for decades; migrants who have moved to Vienna more recently, mostly from Turkey and former Yugoslavia; young artists; students; and, of course, those who run market stalls in the Brunnenmarkt area.
All these people are now jointly taking advantage of and participating in a wide variety of cultural activities: from the monthly showing of a film via music-and-dance workshops all the way to stage shows and book presentations. The hall is also used for traditional events like the autumn party organised by local businesspeople. Special offers for children and young people round off the programme.
"We want to be open to all those living in the area", says Anne Wiederhold. "And we also aim to offer high quality with artists who are active in a professional capacity."
Singing and telling stories
Anne Wiederhold emphasises the art of telling stories, which is a distinctive feature of many cultures. There are open sessions for fairy tales, stories about everyday life and recitals by professional story-tellers and members of the audience, who thereby become active players. A tent evokes an atmosphere of 1001 Nights in the plain hall.
Another focus of attention is choral singing. The choir equally unites many cultures and is conducted by a Turkish choirmaster.
Art helps people feel and understand that individual and cultural diversity enriches any community – that’s the motto of "Brunnenpassage".
Bank Austria is proud to support the initiative from May 2010 onwards.