Consulting, networking, looking for venues, financing, visibility – the Competence Team for Cultural and Creative Industries has been supporting Munich’s creative scene for five years now. What did you think would be easier five years ago, and what was a pleasant surprise during that time?
I thought it would be easier to find employees – it took an extremely long time. I never could have imagined that with everyone working full-out (we had more than 1,000 applications), it would still take a year for the team to function properly. And nobody was dilly-dallying. At the same time, it’s perfectly understandable that the selection process needed to be carried out with particular care due to such an abundance of applications. And our team’s success justifies our approach.
Because I’m not from the real estate industry, I had the most respect for the tasks involving real estate. Establishing a matrix organization within the city administration, meaning linking the cultural and local departments with the Department of Labor and Economic Development was a genuine challenge. What I’m particularly pleased about is how friendly, cooperatively and enthusiastically the colleagues from all of the departments accepted me and the team and how actively they support our activities.
How have creative people reacted to you as a municipal initiative? In which areas do you think you can make the most happen?
Because I used to be the head of the German Government’s Centre of Excellence for the Cultural and Creative Industries for Bavaria, I was quite surprised by the difference in scale to the State of Bavaria. As I traveled through Bavaria, the majority of the players were excited about the basic allowance and business consulting. The issue is much more pressing in Munich and the demands made on us as an institution are much greater. High quality consulting is expected as well as competent and sustainable internationalization services and genuine, tangible added value in terms of networking. We’re constantly incorporating these aspects into our services.
Shedding light on gray zones and unlocking spaces of opportunity
We’ve been able to make a lot happen in all areas. The amount of consulting services provided is always quite high, our events enjoy strong demand and crowdfunding offers are particularly on trend. I’m most pleased by two things personally: First, that we’ve been able to raise awareness in the private real estate industry about the need for space for culture and creative industries. Second, that we’ve been able to shed light on gray zones and unlock spaces of opportunity. Munich just needs to be a bit more whacky. We brought the slogan “Keep Austin weird!” back with us to Munich from SXSW. Now here it’s “Make Munich weird!”
Which projects have left a particular impression on you since establishing the competence team? And why?
Ruffinihaus, of course: In just three months, it demonstrated the amazing amount of energy the industry has to offer and became a focal point of the industry in the middle of the city. The transformative power of those involved was palpable, and an industry on equal footing with the automotive industry was able to create space for itself in the middle of the city. Ruffinihaus made a great contribution to the appreciation and visibility of the industry in the city.
A subject that has nothing to do with the competence team but also made the innovative power of the industry directly tangible in Munich was the immigration challenge in the fall of 2015. The first people who came to help at the main train station were from the culture and creative industries. Those involved demonstrated in Munich that a strong industry in the city creates agile systems that quickly establish solutions when faced with extraordinary challenges, which makes the city more resilient as a whole. In this situation, Munich served as an example for the spill-over effect that creative industries have on other areas of a city.
Protective mechanism for creatives
During those five years, you were able to utilize spaces for a limited time with the Munich culture and creative industries, such as Ruffinihaus on Rindermarkt street as mentioned earlier. What do you think about the criticism saying it doesn’t solve the city’s space problems, but rather is a superficial show? What opportunities to you see in the temporary use of space?
The industry is extremely proficient in working with tight resources. They would also do the same without us. Space is a scarce resource in the city. That is why we support the industry in getting better results with these skills by providing consultation and qualifications as well as access to space – even for a limited amount of time. When we don’t offer support, we often experience self-exploitation and poor conditions for creative individuals when it comes to the temporary use of space. When we’re involved, the conditions are much better because we create a situation on equal footing. That means we’re a protective mechanism for creatives in the processes of change in the city, which makes a very real contribution to a more social market economy. Furthermore, we are also aware of the need for long-term use and are currently raising awareness about that necessity through temporary use. Temporary use makes the city want more and long-term use for culture and creative industries. Long-term use is what is currently emerging in the Kreativquartier (creative district) on Dachauer Straße.
The culture and creative industries in the Munich metropolitan area are strong and steadily growing – what does that mean for the competence team? What is your vision?
The next concrete step is further development of the competence team to provide more temporary use in peripheral city districts. We’re specifically working on getting networks excited about it, raising awareness among local residents and researching spaces. This is where we need more employees in the field of consulting and events. I hope they’ll be able to work actively on the next step. We’ve fortunately had an addition for the acquisition of space. That will continue to ensure the quality of space for temporary use. Moreover, consultations about nighttime culture have made it clear that the competence team should be an advocate for the space requirements and challenges faced by the culture and creative industries in the realm of nighttime culture. That is also a challenge we would like to take on.
Providing space to set energy free
The culture and creative industries in Munich also have a pronounced international orientation. We have to meet these high demands by releasing the competitive power of the industry in the form of market development strategies.
In concrete terms, we want to make it clear that Munich is among the top 10 in the EU and that players in the industry can benefit from our services every day. We basically want to show the city of Munich how much potential lies in the industry and that it’s worth bending the rules a bit every once in a while. It’s a matter of providing space for the industry to set its entire transformative energy free.