Art Workshop Lazareti

Art Radionica Lazareti

At this conference, Art Workshop Lazareti is represented by Srđana Cvijetić, President.

Frana Supila 8, 20 000 Dubrovnik, Croatia

Contact: Slaven Tolj and Srdjana Cvijetić

social/community center (art, culture, but also other fields)
nonprofit association / NGO, established in 1988 as an informal group; 1995 registered as an NGO; established by a group of citizens

To improve cultural, artistic, and social aspects of life in Dubrovnik by creating, supporting, and developing high-quality artistic, cultural, educational, and social programs and projects; as well as by contributing to the development of an active and participatory civil society in Dubrovnik and Croatia.

The main entity is the AWL’s Assembly that comprises all members of the AWL. We hold a general assembly once a year, in December, where we decide the general programming and most of the activities for the next year. The organization numbers 38 members (mostly contemporary artists from Dubrovnik), of whom about 20 are more actively involved in the functioning of the organization.

The Executive Board comprises 5 members, who compose a working or executive team with the president and secretary of the organization. Board members are chosen every four years, and meet staff once a month, or even more often depending on the intensity of programs. Their task is to take care of most ongoing program- and organization-related issues.

The Supervisory Board comprises 3 members – 1 legal representative of the City or County, an ex-president of the organization and one member of the organization. Their role is to control and supervise the organization’s operations.

5 people are fully employed (2 by the NGO; 3 by the company owned by AWL). Slaven Tolj is the artistic director and curator of programs; Srdjana Cvijetić is the program coordinator–manager and works on marketing and PR; 3 people are employed as technical staff, among whom Viktor Vučetić is the head of the technical team. Accountancy and other legal/financial tasks and questions are handled by a separate firm, Numeros d.o.o., to whom we pay a monthly fee.

Slaven Tolj and Srdjana Cvijetić are the organization’s legal representatives.

The Assembly decides general programming (an outline of the annual program and activities) and the main projects in which AWL takes part; daily, ongoing decisions about programming and basic operations are made by the working team and the Executive Board.

Art Workshop Lazareti - concert, Tamara Obrovac

Organizational openness: Running a cultural and community centre in Dubrovnik implies organizational openness to other organizations, artists, citizens… because of the constant touristic and commercial pressure on “free” spaces. That is one reason why many local organizations and artists/citizens do not have their “own” spaces (rents are too high, and the city council is not very eager to make its premises available without any charge). Since we have signed a 25-year lease with the City in 2001 allowing us to use the premises at Lazareti, we are open to offering our space, technical equipment, and other resources to other users. We invite people and organizations to take part in our programs, use the spaces, and create their own programs at Lazareti. We also accept and host their programs and events as long as they fit well with our core values, mission, and vision.

Venue/s / resources:
Art Workshop Lazareti runs an independent cultural + community center in the premises of an ex-maritime quarantine complex. It is a historic monument and a heritage site situated in the eastern “suburbs” of the Old Town just outside the city walls and is a functional part of the old city port.

Under the 2001 contract, AWL is permitted to use 3 naves (halls) and 2 yards that separate the naves. Even though the contract has been in force for 10 years, we are still only using 2 halls and 2 yards, and the last hall is still in use by someone else. The contract allows us to use the space for 25 years without a lease.

Interior spaces:

  1. great hall – multifunctional space, about 600 m2, used for all sorts of events such as exhibitions, theatre / dance performances, concerts, parties, conferences
  2. club space – connects yard with great hall and small hall – about 80 m2 – bar, space for small scale events such as exhibitions, talks, readings, artist talks, gathering and socializing…
  3. dance / rehearsals room – about 150 m2 – mainly used for dance / theatre rehearsals and workshops, but also for exhibitions, small conferences, round tables, film projections etc.
  4. workshop spaces – one about 50 m2 (fully equipped for all wood and metal work) and another 30 m2
  5. AWL office and gallery / meetings space

The yards are used for all sorts of events, such as performances, concerts, shows, conferences, workshops, and meetings.

Spaces are equipped for the basic functioning of the centre.

Art Workshop Lazareti - view from Porporela

Budget: less than €100,000 (2010); more than €100,000 and less than €300,000 EUR (previous years; 2004–2009)

Co-productions: We have no usual model of co-production, which always depends on the particular agreement between participating organizations. AWL first became involved with co-production in 1996 and since then we have co-produced about 20 theatre / dance projects, plus numerous visual art works and exhibitions. Sometimes we provide work space, accommodation and food for the artists and pay running costs (as with most theatre / dance co-productions), sometimes we fundraise and split overall costs with our partners (as with exhibitions and visual arts projects), and sometimes we provide space and all technical necessities for realizing a project. Partners vary from individual artists, theatre / dance groups, and artists’ organizations to institutions.

Hosting: Our hosting of programs and events also depends on the particular agreement between partners. In most cases we hire our spaces at a special rate. We donate spaces for free to organizations that hold free programs and events and have limited financial resources, though users share the running costs. We hire or provide spaces for programs and events such as conferences, workshops, talks, lectures, exhibitions, and round tables, as long as they fit well with our core values, mission, and vision.

Services: We provide assistance with writing fundraising applications, assistance to new organizations (such as space, equipment, knowledge or experience transfer), and space, advice, information, and equipment to artists and so on.

International collaboration: One of the main ideas of the AWL when it was established was to bring international artists to Dubrovnik in order to keep the communication, relevance, and vibrancy of the local contemporary arts scene alive. The other idea that guided us was to provide local artists opportunities to show their work internationally, beyond the borders of Dubrovnik and Croatia. Today, it is still the same. We find that the international projects and collaborations we host or take part in are crucial for shaping the local arts scene and as one of the most important ways to keep it open and alive. Most of the international collaborations are made through some kind of reciprocal exchange – artists-in-residence programs or co-productions.

Participation: Besides workshops (dance, music, theatre, visual arts…), in 2010 we initiated a project called “Homework – introduction to contemporary arts in Dubrovnik”. This began with a collective exhibition by 30 local contemporary artists and has continued with a sequence of informal presentations and conversations where artists show works they never finished or with which they were never satisfied, explaining their processes and perceptions – opening up the processes of creation and communication of / with contemporary arts.
In 2011, we will begin another project called “Sketches of collective memories”, bringing together local artists’ and residents’ personal experiences of living in specific neighborhoods, belonging to specific communities, etc.

Art Workshop Lazareti - The World Won't Listen

Gathering citizens: We are among the initiators of the citizens’ initiatives “Moj spas za Dubrovnik” (“My Salvation for Dubrovnik”) and “Srđ je naš!” (“Srđ is Ours!”) The main idea is to strengthen and improve the role of civil society in Dubrovnik and Croatia and to defend open and public spaces against being turned into commercialized, private, and closed zones. Most of these initiatives’ activities, such as meetings, preparations, round tables, public debates, and campaigns, are held in our spaces.

Municipality: Turbulent relations. Every local election and change of government has left us facing the same situation. New councils always want to evict us from Lazareti because of the premises’ possible commercial value and exploitability for touristic purposes. However, we also we experience good collaboration with the city council in terms of organization of cultural events and mutual support. It funds our projects regularly and the fact that we use the City’s spaces based on a 25-year rent-free contract still remains.

Art Workshop Lazareti - citizens' initiative Srđ is ours!

Advocacy / activism: We have initiated several civil initiatives, such as “Moj spas za Dubrovnik / Građanska inicijativa za spas Dubrovnika” (2007/2008) and Srđ je naš! (2010–present). The main idea of both initiatives is to protect and preserve Dubrovnik’s public spaces. Activities include protests, public events (from performances to round tables, talks to campaigns), meetings with decision-makers, meetings with stakeholders; mobilizing citizens to attend public debates and project presentations, mobilizing citizens to write suggestions and comments on urban plans that intend to reshape and diminish public spaces by turning them into closed private zones, and supporting and encouraging citizen participation in the processes that influence and determine the local community’s quality of life.
We have also organized many different advocacy and lobbying activities concerning cultural policies.

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