The Agora Collective - Berlin-based Center for Contemporary Practices - was originally founded in 2011 by a multidisciplinary team as an independent project space in Mittelweg, 50 Berlin. Since then, Agora expands its mission to be a place to conceive and experiment with models of working together; providing stable spaces for artists to engage within collaborative and community-based practices.
In 2017, the project has been totally relocated to the former Kindl-Brauerei Area in Rollbergstrasse / Am Südhaus, being proudly part of the Vollgutlage, the area acquired by the Swiss Foundation Edith Maryon. This 38.000 sq. meters area, located in the heart of Neukölln, has been secured for initiatives devoted to social, ecological, cultural and artistic projects.
The new stage of the project becomes a fundamental period of reassessing which elements of the “Agora mix” to retain. Since its beginning, Agora´s focus has ranged from food and hosting practices, co-working spaces, event series, workshops, and programming, as well as with a strong take on visual and performing arts.
Agora´s current space consists of 1100 sq. meters basement space, being developed to be an ongoing experimental center for artistic production and presentation. This includes: exhibition and event programs, month-long workshop projects, a contemporary dance platform, studios for artists, community driven activities and artistic residency opportunities.
The Agora team is devoted to create cross-disciplinary models of cultural and educational production expressed in a diverse, inclusive program of artistic projects and events that deals with relevant questions of nowadays. Agora means now, in Portuguese, language of its Brazilian founders and also coincidentally, in Greek, Agora is the place for encounters and exchange, the market-place.
Our programmes, activities and space are structured based in four pillars that we consider essential for the good life:
- Nourishment (food)
- Experimentation (art)
- Production (work)
- Education (learn)
We see our role as a form of “node”, an “assembly”, a “meeting point” in a larger web of local and international institutions, projects, workshops, studios, schools, gardens, playgrounds, theaters, kitchens, offices and other entities, which share our values.
Another core value of Agora is its artistic solidarity. Agora´s community as well as the in-house artists are encouraged to take part in Agora’s programmes and events to contribute to the questions of our space and develop partnerships with other Berlin project spaces, organisations and initiatives.
Since its opening, Agora has formed a continuously growing network of local and international partners, organisations, and institutions. Partners include the Immersion program hosted by Martin-Gropius-Bau, Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Goethe-Institut; Tate Liverpool; Ludwig Múzeum, Budapest; Kunsthalle Osnabrück; Create, Dublin; Hablarenarte, Madrid; amongst others.
Furthermore, as cultural spaces of this type are getting scarcer in Berlin, Agora works to provide a stable spaces not only for people who define themselves as full-time professional artists, but also encourages a permeability of the space, through workshops developed by its members like Live Drawing Classes (Burnt Sienna, developed by Louise Thomas) and ceramic courses (Ceramic Kingdom); which permits random visitors, tourists, neighborhood children and parents, and associated partners to also enter into a dialogue on how we want to live today.
Agora’s visual arts programmes have expanded across multiple platforms including I am Hungry, AFFECT, and Everything Under the Sun, amongst others. Agora MOVE is a platform dedicated to the study, practice and production of dance and performance art. It was created to fulfill the demand of a contemporary dance house in the district of Neukölln, offering the neighborhood and its community a place to research, exercise, and create body based work.
Agora´s multi-layered programme and spaces are curated collectively by its in-house team and guest contributors to work as a catalyst in and outside its physical location in Berlin and internationally. Agora has since its early stages embraced interdisciplinarity, bringing together artists and professionals from multiple fields, providing spaces for experimentation.
The previous experiences of activating our original building in Mittelweg and now the current warehouse located in Rollberg has provided to our team the capabilities of reacting organically to the nature of spaces. In Rollberg, the large scale of the space has helped us to react to it developing larger productions such as evenings with performances, music events, screenings and larger exhibitions projects. Additionally, the experience in Mittelweg provided to our team the expertise in developing alternative educational methodologies that can be translated to the new space and that has been transferred to the Rollberg house.
In 2015, Agora Collective e.V. became a member of the Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme – CAPP – co-funded by Creative Europe and has also been supported by international funding bodies, such as Nordic Culture Fund and Nordic Culture Point to develop its artistic and educational activities.