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Culture Hub Croatia – a platform for education, creativity, and encouraging development through culture, was officially founded in January 2017 with the primary goal of networking at the local and international level, as well as transferring knowledge from the rest of Europe, promoting artistic practice, and creating opportunities for learning and creativity in the local community.
All three founders of CHC – Marina Batinić, Jasmina Šarić, and Kristina Tešija – through their previous experiences abroad, had the opportunity to be inspired by existing social and cultural centers and learn from examples of their successful working models.
After completing their studies and obtaining their first professional experiences, they decided to try to build a community – organically develop the concept of the future space in Split centered around the idea of creating a creative hub, and through numerous experiments and listening to needs.
“We were free to operate across the entire territory of Croatia, nomadically, implementing activities and programs in partnership with other organizations and institutions. The multi-year period also served us to build a community, understand needs, and further improve the initial idea”, the founders of the association told us.
“As one of our most significant initiatives, we would highlight the ‘Praznine‘ (Eng. ‘Empty Spaces’) project, which we implemented from 2020-2022 in the historical core of Split, and in 2022 in Dubrovnik, repurposing closed spaces open in the tourist season during the winter period – opening them to artists, creatives and to the citizens themselves. In this way, we touched upon the issues of growing mass tourism, the lack of space for culture and civil society, and the need for quality cultural content for the local community.”
At the same time, as a team, they tested the concept of a creative hub at the city level – workshops, coworking, exhibitions, open studios for artists, and the “Adopt a Space” program, during which they received program proposals.
Today, in the creative hub named Prostor (Eng. Space), which the association has managed since July 2021, it is possible to find the same functions in which they still actively involve the audience and collaborators, and encourage participation.
The space is located in the “Kineski zid” building (Plančićeva 2), one of the largest residential buildings in Split.
“The fact that we are on the ground floor of such a residential unit greatly shapes the way we work – we want to develop the program keeping in mind the needs of our immediate neighbors, but also, of course, in general, all residents and visitors of Split.”
In Prostor you can find a series of events that are organized every week – from workshops for children and adults to lectures, exhibitions, meetups, and a series of activities through the “Adopt Prostor” program.
The call for proposals for activities as part of the program is published every year in February and is open to all associations, collectives, artists, and citizens who want to organize one of their activities free of charge in Prostor – with the condition that the activities are also free for the public and that they are, preferably, of a participative character.
Some of the most visited activities within that program so far have been “Radio in the neighborhood” – organized by the community radio KLFM, “Mindfulness” and “Pottery” workshops by the “Terrum” association, lectures and exhibitions by users of the “Juraj Bonači” Education Center. etc.
Considering that the association is located in a private rented space – the members develop their own economic activities to be able to achieve at least partial self-sustainability of the association with public funding sources.
So, in addition to the mentioned programs, they offer their workspace as a coworking space – to local users, digital nomads, and foreigners with a temporary address in Split. It is important to point out that so far the mentioned project has proven to be very successful.
Although they are not a standard coworking (in the sense of a classic office atmosphere) – a certain group of people who work online appreciate the creative dynamics and the possibility of connecting with the local creative community, as well as participating in the association’s activities. Thus, some of them work at Prostor just to join the opening of an exhibition or ceramics workshop after work.
“A special feature of Prostor that we would like to point out is the residency for artists, where we continuously host artists from Croatia and abroad. Along with accommodation, guests also get a workspace and have the opportunity to connect with our other members and introduce themselves to the audience through informal formats. So far, we have hosted dozens of artists, and the call for residencies is continuously open and can be found on our website.
“One of the more interesting moments that we can highlight is the work of artist Željko Beljan near Prostor, and it was an artistic intervention on the playground barrier, the completion of which we inaugurated with a football match. Along with the artist, some of our coworkers, members, volunteers, regular visitors, and even children from the neighborhood joined the game.
This is certainly an excellent example of the concept of work and how the association wants to develop its projects and programs and operate in the local community.
Each year, program outlines are defined, through which some of the current topics are addressed at the local and global level – exhibition, educational, and discursive programs are defined within these topics, and the best way to support the association is to visit and participate in the mentioned programs.
Also, several partner projects are being implemented at the European level – which enables the sharing of knowledge and learning from others.”
“We try to keep our organization organized in a non-hierarchical way – we currently have five employees and several associate members. We continue to educate ourselves, especially in the areas of cultural management, and we often organize special activities for our members – participation in creative workshops in Prostor or joint lunches and informal get-togethers.
As for team-building activities, we try to implement an approach every day that builds connections between our members and our community. We see our future, i.e. the development of our creative hub, along with the continuity of work in this urban area, but also in the rural parts of Croatia that we want to explore and experiment in, allowing that idea to develop organically and continue to take shape in a participatory manner.”
Article author: Paula Srdanović
Photos: Kartolina / Culture Hub Croatia