The community of associations and individuals users of “Medika” led by the Autonomous Cultural Center – ATTACK held a press conference today following a notice of the City of Zagreb to the community to move out of the former factory Medika.
Medika has been the centre of Zagreb’s independent culture for nearly 10 years. It is the meeting place of numerous artists, creative people, cultural workers, NGOs, independent collectives and individuals who create and present their work to the public there. Hundreds of people pass through Medika on a daily basis, enjoying the myriad of cultural content created by over ten thousand creators and program participants yearly. For this reason, Medika is mentioned in the City of Zagreb’s strategy for culture as extremely important for the creation and development of diversity in cultural production.
After first occupying the abandoned factory and years of struggle that followed, the association Autonomous Cultural Center signed a one-year agreement for temporary use of the space with the owner, the City of Zagreb in 2011. For the last five years, since the expiry of that agreement, the City failed to provide the association with a decision on the status and future of the space. Even though no new agreements were signed, the associations and individuals active in Medika continued to pay rent to the City – effectively “legally occupying” the space.
Following significant media coverage of the story, the City Office for Legal-Property Relations accepted the associations’ request for a meeting, which was held yesterday. In response to the media inquiries, the Office later officially stated that the move would be temporary for the purposes of inspection and repairs to the space. According to the Autonomous Cultural Centre, the reasons given to the media were never stated in the notice.
At the meeting, the associations refused to leave the space and proposed a partial inspection and repairs which would enable them to stay at Medika and move from one part to another during the works. The city officials told them that the City had no plans to demolish the building for at least another year. However, after years of neglect and lack of interest in repairs and investments, the question remains why the City would now invest in the space with plans to eventually demolish it. In addition, the city major Milan Bandić had on several occasions in previous years expressed intention to build a congress centre in Medika’s place.
While spoken guarantees that they would be able to return to Medika were given at yesterday’s meeting with the city, the community refuses to leave the last location of independent culture in Zagreb without a signed lease agreement or any official guarantees from the City made in writing. They demand that the city sign an agreement on space rehabilitation, its conversion from an industrial to cultural space and a new lease agreement, or to provide a new and better space for Zagreb’s independent culture.
For that purpose, they have organized an online petition for their stay which you can sign here. They currently have over eight thousand signatures.