Creative industry
Marketplace with community spirit

The Co-Working Spaces at Agora in Berlin foster community
The Co-Working Spaces at Agora in Berlin foster community | Photo: © Franz Brueck

Strengthening community, addressing climate change or supporting cooperatives: in Berlin’s creative industries there are numerous projects that create social added value.

Looking around his workplace in the Co-Working Space, Dario sees more than simply other self-employed people. He calls his co-workers there his “Berlin family”. Here at the Agora Co-Working-Spaces in Berlin-Neukölln he painted the stairwell together with his family. In summer they picked apples together in front of the office building with the yellow-brick façade. The Italian web-designer even spent Christmas with his colleagues at Agora.
Dario’s experiences reflect the idea of the artist collective Agora: community plays a central role. “We want to be the prototype for an interdisciplinary community”, says Caique Tizzi, one of the two founders of Agora. He is chairman of the Agora Collective Association. “Central pillars of community for us are work, food, learning and art”, says Tizzi. And so Agora has, for example, developed projects such as “Everything Under the Sun”: in several events, it used art to treat various aspects of climate change in northern countries.
In the Agora Collective Residency Programme, artists have been working for several months in the Agora space with the aid of a grant. Among other things, they have made a short film focussing on the question of what people are willing to give up for the sake of a better society. In its latest project, “I am hungry”, Agora provides a platform where artists can experiment with new forms of artistic collaboration. In one performance, for instance, amateur actors take the audience on a journey into the child-ego. This experiment explores our understanding of human nature.

Different backgrounds, unusual projects

Not for nothing does Agora mean “marketplace”. This is where people with very different backgrounds come together: designers, programmers, theatre producers, video game developers, artists and many others. And sometimes they have very unusual projects. A project team is currently working on collecting medical equipment for Syria. “We want to be a place where solutions for important issues are developed”, says Tizzi. Once a month, an Agora member presents one of his or her projects and sometimes looks for collaborators.
Agora is financed by fees charged for the co-working spaces, while the artistic projects receive grants. In this way the self-starters of the creative industry succeed in realizing their ideas and at the same time creating added value that goes far beyond the merely economic. Agora is only one of many projects with similar objectives in Berlin alone. Others include the record label Bar 25, the artist collective KUNSTrePUBLIK, the Denkerei, which means something like “Thinkery” and describes itself as the “Office for Work on Insoluble Problems”, and the venue and creative meeting place Impact Hub Berlin. In all these projects, exchange plays a major role.

Digitally shaped participation

Supermarket, a platform for digital culture, collaborative economy and new forms of work, is about participation and exchange. The members of the Supermarket team earn their money by, among other things, moderating and technically accompanying events and developing digital strategies. They also advise organizations and companies on how, for example, they can develop more sustainable products and services. And this includes how they can change their work organization – for instance, by allowing employees to participate more in the profits of the company.
In addition, Supermarket also organizes events. The focus is now on so-called “platform cooperatives”. These are platform-based cooperatives that stand for a new digitally shaped cooperativism and represent a counter-movement to platforms such as the accommodation portal Airbnb. The cooperative model is intended to allow not only a few but as many as possible to take part in the profits. “We want to create a space where fresh discussions and new networks are generated”, says Ela Kagel, co-founder of Supermarket.