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Bundestag resolution: pedestrian zones to club miles!


The Bundestag demands that music clubs be placed on an equal footing with museums and opera houses in terms of building law. A decision that could have unforeseen consequences.

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Celebrating club visitors (archive image): Future culture, from a building law perspective?


Boathouse / dpa

Tonight the corks are likely to pop at club operators all over Germany. Not because they are allowed to reopen their shops - that is actually not yet foreseeable, they have been closed for over a year, if there are parties, then only illegally. But there is still reason to be happy: at lunchtime the Bundestag approved a text with the cumbersome title »Motion for a resolution on the recommendation of the Committee on Building, Housing, Urban Development and Municipalities for the Building Land Mobilization Act« with the votes of all parties except the FDP and the AfD. This application could make a big difference for an industry that was under great pressure even before Corona.

The MPs have called on the federal government to define clubs and live venues with a verifiable cultural reference no longer as entertainment venues but as facilities for cultural purposes, and to change the rules, ordinances and laws accordingly. Techno, punk and hip-hop are therefore not high culture - luckily! But the places where this music is played should be put on an equal footing with opera houses, museums and concert halls in terms of urban planning and building regulations.

There has been a lot of controversy over the question of whether clubs fall under "culture" or "entertainment", for example in the case of Berghain in Berlin.

But mostly it was about tax issues, such as how high the sales tax rate should be at the door.

The Bundestag resolution this Friday is about the big picture: the building law status of music clubs.

That it has been accepted is a big step.

He could change cities.

Why is?

In terms of building law, clubs have so far been equated with amusement arcades, betting offices and brothels. In the building use ordinance, clubs are regarded as entertainment venues, for example. Accordingly, they are of little importance. Opening them is only permitted in certain areas, and if other investors assert their interests, for example by planning new buildings in the vicinity, the opportunities for club operators to defend themselves against the threat of eviction are poor.

Event locations have had to close in all German cities in recent years, and the so-called "club dying" is no longer a pure Berlin phenomenon. The subculture, which only upgraded the city district, has long since become a plaything and a victim of investor interests - or of residents who want to be left in peace or of administrations who invoke their rules. Clubs everywhere were forced to close, not because they would not have been successful, but because they had to give way to investors and their projects - and had little opportunity to defend themselves.

On the one hand, the Bundestag resolution is tough and unequivocal: It recognizes the "considerable contribution" that the clubs make to the cultural life of the Federal Republic and calls on the federal government to take comprehensive measures - that is to say, to change the building planning law. On the other hand, it is also soft and non-binding. Not only because the federal government has yet to implement the demands and such a resolution is not legally binding - even if negotiators say that the senior civil servants from the building administration finally made friends with the resolution after long resistance.

Urban planning and building law are complicated matters and the competencies are in all possible hands.

Development plans are drawn up on site, building permits are issued by the cities and municipalities - and there is also a dispute over club closings in the respective districts.

But here, too, it is an important symbol that no one can look back on: clubs are culture.

One will be able to refer to this.

The fact that the Bundestag honors the techno clubs in particular for their "considerable contribution" to the cultural life of the Federal Republic is quite remarkable; they are even explicitly mentioned in the motion.

What follows from it

In fact, the relevance of this decision goes far beyond the techno clubs.

Because what do the German city centers look like?

It's not as if their extensive wasteland began with the corona pandemic.

Yes, it is completely unclear how many stores will survive in the coming months when the business aid runs out.

It can be certain that online trading will retain its importance.

So a lot of shops in the city centers will remain closed.

The office space is similar: many people will return.

But many will also stay in the home office.

In the future it will be about conquering other places.

So there is an urgent need to talk about the future of inner cities. Who should go there? What should happen there? What life should rage there and when? Perhaps the whole model on which they have worked for the past few decades has come to an end. And maybe that's a good thing, you can imagine a lot that is more exciting than the well-known pedestrian zone dreariness.

Many music clubs, cultural centers, and other alternative venues have sprung up in abandoned factories over the past few decades.

This resulted in an independent, post-industrial aesthetic that combined the Wilhelminian style charm of the buildings with graffiti art.

This era is likely to come to an end, there are simply no more empty factories, the de-industrialization of the cities is more or less complete.

In the future, it will be about conquering other places: shops in pedestrian zones, empty department stores, office buildings that nobody needs any more, maybe even entire shopping malls.

This is where the music will play if things go well.

And the cities will benefit from it.

None of this will happen on its own.

It will take the imagination to think of uses for these places.

As well as creativity, patience and a willingness to compromise in order to implement it - and the will to succeed.

On all sides: with the club operators anyway, they don't know anything else.

But also with the owners of the real estate, the various administrations entrusted with the approval, building authorities, regulatory authorities.

And with the residents.

Today's Bundestag resolution could be a basis on which these things can be negotiated better than before.

Transparency notice: The author was an appraiser for Berghain in Berlin when the court heard whether the techno club was a place of culture or not.

Source: spiegel

All life articles on 2021-05-09

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