It is done! The City of Ostrava approved the project of Jatka. Thus, the area of former municipal slaughterhouses on Stodolni Street - seven thousand square meters - will turn into an open zone for culture, creativity and cooperation. Andrej Harmečko is co-author of the project. He was one of two persons who established the Cultural Center Cooltour in 2010, which is by the way a partner of the Nová síť network. Even then, he said that the third largest town in the Czech Republic had the ambition to become an European metropolis.

Could you describe the project in more detail? To whom will Jatka serve?

I hope it will serve everybody. We would like to build on what Cooltour has succeeded so far. Additionally, we will present contemporary dance, new circus and other artistic trends and novelties. The musical performances (often the authorial ones) will be presented in the clubs. Furthermore, the workshops and artistic residences will be held in the premises, accompanied by our own production which we have focused on recently.

In the office space you will be able to visit a number of educational programs and courses, in the courtyard you can rent a bicycle or repair your own one. We want to continue with the community projects that do not limit us as far as a link to particular premise is concerned, but which rather have an overlap on the whole Ostrava. We also want to dedicate to children and families. In general, everything we started in 2011 and we have been pushing forward until now.

May we talk about a specific time horizon? Will it be opened in stages or as soon as the premises are completed?

What is clear now is that the city will buy the building. We are waiting for further negotiations. Our ideological intent must be transformed into a particular project and, with regard to the fact that it is us who makes most of the operating money, into a business plan as well.

In the course of time, it will emerge when exactly we will move. But one thing is clear - we do not want to abandon our current contacts. From the beginning, we must maintain at least what has been offered in Cooltour so that artists may come to us, so that we can produce, so that we have a background. I have seen plenty of the projects destroyed by waiting. I am sure that in a minimalist configuration we are able to run up new premises for a year or two. Complete reconstruction will take another four years. The space should, however, live already during construction work.

When the idea of what to do with Jatka came into your mind?

No such exact moment exists. We simply needed some space. When Cooltour was established, we moved into a building that was scheduled for demolition. At first we did not even know exactly what we wanted to do. Then things moved forward and three years later we actively began to look for another space. We have a lot of plans and we are convinced that we are doing the right thing and that we have managed to create a well functioning cultural institution. Jatka are the third area we have negotiated on during the last four years.

How many times have you been asked about the name Jatka - above all in connection with Pragues Jatka78?

We are aware that there exists plenty of jatka. However, the Ostravas ones are more iconic for the town itself than the Holešovice ones for Prague. Nevertheless, we will not steal the name from the Prague guys:-). The space is not going to be called Jatka and we are looking for a different name. We have often been enencouraged to use the name Cooltour again. We do not feel it´s the best choice, but it is true that it has a certain value that should be appreciated.

What has recently made you happy in culture?

I am delighted when something is happening. Even outside of Prague, new projects are being developed by independent organisations and the productions have the potential to travel. More and more cultural organizations have a publicly beneficial character. Many projects offer audience participation within the preparation and production process. We cultivate our audience environment. In our view, culture is not just art. Culture is a set of all possible topics that need to be cultivated. Our task is to educate the audience as well.

What, on the contrary, has disappointed you?

I am not sure whether I may say it iss a disappointment, it is rather about finding out that people do not see culture as an essential part of a full life but more likely as sole fun. We all struggle looking for a balance among work, family and rest in our lives. All of this is important and we hardly find any time for art. Moreover, art is perceived as something complicated, as another work process, because we have to think about it. We have to fight with this opinion.

What are your wishes?
To survive. Not only Cooltour, but all who try and fight each day for their place in the sun.

Regular blog of Nová síť published in the Internet newsletter on the contemporary theatre in context