How can you not go mad when you work in an independent arts centre?
This was the question asked last autumn at the sixty-ninth meeting of Trans Europe Halles, in Krakow. Indeed, one may ask this question, because the exercise of our activity in this context is difficult, complex and, especially, structurally fragile! And anyway, what is an independent arts centre? Last January, I was invited by the Pekarna centre, in Maribor, Slovenia, to take part in a conference entitled “New Times / New Models”, which, precisely, asked three questions: What does it mean to be independent? Why be independent? How can you remain independent? I have been asking myself the first question for a long time. The categorical answer to it is: when many arts institutions are put in place by the will of local and regional authorities, the organisations that are independent are those created of their own free will by people, collectives, artistic or cultural associations from civil society. The questions of “why” and “how” are linked, because the way we do things cannot be dissociated from what we want to do. In our activities, being independent does not mean doing what we want when we want, but doing work in the general public interest according to our own definitions and our own means and resources. And this is not in contradiction with our freedom of action.