Naujoji Vilnia - DIY Cultural Centre

Matas Aerobica and his fundraising project about diy cultural centre

Moment from the documentary

Secretthirteen documentary video about the hopes for a DIY Cultural Centre - an open space of outsider artists in a beautifully industrial part of Vilnius.


A few weeks back we took a ride and made a video. We went away from the center of Vilnius, to an empty house in the notorious Naujoji Vilnia district. Neighbourhoods on the periphery of the Lithuanian capital are generally known by people for being the location to some building or institution, which is, incidentally, the only reason most will go there (sidestepping all those shades of grey along the way). Case in point - the role of Naujoji Vilnia in the Lithuanian social psyche is that of the mental hospital district. And despite how that may get the imagination going, we’d like Naujoji Vilnia to be known for more than just that. We’d like Matas Aerobica and crew to open a DIY Cultural Centre there.

Matas, who has been featured on Secret Thirteen a number of times (mix), is an important promoter in our local scene - one of the few who organize truly interesting musical events, digging deep for brilliant artists in any style, from noise to outsider pop, and bringing them here in a warm and friendly way, as well as in accordance with the best DIY traditions. Last year we had a little showcase at his (and his crew’s) festival, The Summit of Braille Satellite, and spent an amazing weekend with friends and other brilliant musical outsiders. We can wholeheartedly urge anyone - for the love of music! - to come over this July for The hiccup cure of Braille Satellite.

The small group of like-minded people behind these events have decided to buy a house in Naujoji Vilnia and turn it into a community centre. The idea is to create a space open to absolutely everyone with something artistic on their mind, and it doesn’t matter if they are local or foreign. The place will have a concert hall, but in addition there will also be a recording studio full of strange equipment, a gallery space, some living quarters, and, of course, a kitchen. Anyone (and that includes you, future Bandcamp legend!) will be invited to come stay at the Cultural Centre, to get to know our city, to record something, to play a gig, to host a workshop - whatever you may have in mind. We at Secret Thirteen are also hoping to do the right thing to all that gorgeous industry in Naujoji Vilnia - play some gorgeous industrial to it, for example! But that will have to wait.

Currently, the house is a lot of empty, fertile space - it is, in the words of Leibniz, pregnant with the future. The crew all agree that this excitement born out of unknowability, this flexibility and openness to change, is the most important aspect of the Cultural Centre. ‘Nothing good comes without taking chances’ is the mantra. We wanted to shoot a video, exploring this idea of doing the uncertain with certainty, and revealing a few of the people behind the project - Austė, who is a cinema curator and translator; Grégoire - a Swiss musician and teacher, whose passion lies with the idea of building a retro gaming room; and Matas, who probably needs a coffee. In doing so we asked some animators to inhabit the house’s empty spaces with phantoms of what may one day be.

After long and, sadly, fruitless hours spent in the offices of various municipal bureaucrats, the Cultural Centre crew have decided to try an Indiegogo fundraising campaign with the steep goal of $76,865 - around half of the price of the house. With 5 days left, that goal remains far away, but that shouldn’t discourage anyone, because the end of the campaign is not the end of the DIY Cultural Centre. So go on and help Vilnius with this exercise in frontier culture - we can all benefit from it!

About Author

Tadas Švenčionis is a Secret Thirteen editor and journalist. He organizes the occasional event in Lithuania and is obsessed with the harsh, the sad, the delirious, and the political.

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