Bringing together the talent of the artist, the creativity of the entrepreneur, the vision of the investor and the will of the local authorities.
Run by Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki, in collaboration with ArtBOX | Creative Arts Management, Artecitya in Thessaloniki suggests the establishment of an Artistic Creative Agency, based on the formation of an active network between local, national and international cultural actors, who will propose specific projects aiming at reinventing the city’s image and its perception for its inhabitants, visitors and people world-wide.  
The Agency will be responsible for building bridges between the artists / creators who participate in the residencies and the local agents and circumstances – community, business, art and culture institutions, local authorities etc. Participating creators will propose solutions and build prototypes. The Agency will work to bring these into existence through fundraising, discussion with local authorities etc.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

Characteristic of art after 1960 is the pushing the limits not only of its media (those conventionally defined as painting and sculpture in the 19th century, that is during the time that public art museums in Europe were established) but also of the places and contexts in which art is made and received. The institutional critique of art (institutional critique of the 1970s) led to a redefinition of the relationship between art and its presentation context. New genres such as performance, installation art, interventionist actions, appropriation art, relational aesthetics are no longer confined to institutionalized spaces aiming at presenting art, but they constitute historical benchmarks of how to show art outside the museum.

At the same time, the opening of the architecture in different scientific fields defines the contemporary architect, who, now expelled from the building site, acts as a scholar, who by analogy with the visual artist, demonstrates the ability to process theoretical cross-disciplinary issues. Such an exemplified case of how the scope of art has been widened is the conceptualization of the public space as the novel “museum without walls.” Typical cases of such a development are cities such as Venice, Kassel and Münster, where during major international art events (Biennale di Venezia, Documenta, Projekt Skulptur Münster) are transformed every two, five or ten years each in real public workshops of artistic creation, interpretation and reception of art, which reaches all aspects of social life.

THE AGENCY

DEVICE / URBAN INCUBATOR / HUB / BRANDING MECHANISM / ENTREPRENEURSHIP / BEST PRACTICE MODEL

The Agency as Device
The initiative adopts the term Agency as the capacity of an individual or entity to engage with the world and act within it independently but also in relation and as a reaction to society’s structural limitations. Under this light, the Agency becomes an enabler, a trigger, a springboard, an emancipator.  

The Agency as Urban incubator
The Artecitya Agency designs and promotes various projects introducing the creative force of both artists/creators and local communities into the designing and decision-making process. In this sense, the Agency functions as an urban incubator, bringing to the fore the city’s existing creative dynamics, while proposing novel, diversified, work-in-progress based models of envisioning the city.  

The Agency as Meeting hub
At the same time, the Agency becomes a meeting hub for various contemporary forms of curatorial and artistic activity in the wider public sphere, such as environmental sculpture, site-specific art, street art, live-art, net.art, community radio, community media, and supports the mobility of critics, experts, researchers and cultural workers, who participate in workshops and conferences, aiming at implementing the project’s goals. 

The Agency as Branding Mechanism
For the Agency, the top-to-down model of city branding (as in the case of “Berlin Partners”) is reversed and oriented towards a grassroots model, which functions at the local level, driven by a community’s politics and aspirations. Creative individuals and groups will not only comment on the daily life, but they will try to improve it, while orienting their projects on the needs, aspirations and visions of its inhabitants. We will describe the face of the city through small forgotten personal stories; we will highlight areas, buildings, myths, traditions; we will interact in society and we will include it in our actions. The artistic ingenuity and innovation becomes a lever consolidating the informal and unsolicited relationship with art, a negotiation of our daily relationship with the city.

The Agency as Entrepreneurship
The Agency also highlights Thessaloniki as a centre of innovative cultural renewal, both locally and internationally. With the assistance of creative cultural actors, it prepares and dispenses proposals for long-lasting and sustainable solutions to the problems of the city’s inhabitants and social needs (i.g. a tool for addressing local development and youth unemployment). By bringing together artists/creative agents with the market dynamics of social entrepreneurship and creative economy, it creates tools for addressing the needs of economy today. The Agency brings together the talent of the artist, the creativity of an entrepreneur and the vision of the investor, while forming creative partnerships. 

The Agency as Best-Practice Model
Ultimately, the Agency acquires the function of a “chinese pharmacy,” which prepares the “ingredients” of a “remedy,” specific for individual needs. The Agency promotes novel ways of community consultancy and empowerment of groups and individuals, offering them specific tools and know-how tactics to transform their every-day realities. 

The Agency is in itself a creative project that wants to set standards for good practice both in the field of “art for social change” as well as in the domain of contemporary city branding. It promotes the activities of all contributing partners, establishes a continuous networking and secures the sustainability and longevity of the project’s goals, even after the end of the project in 2018. 

PROGRAMME OVERVIEW

AGENCY, 2015-2018

Throughout 2015, the Artecitya Agency will be established and developed. Based at Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki and active all over the city, the Agency will be the “heart” of the project, functioning as creative incubator, curatorial organiser, production-manager and information disseminator. 

RESIDENCIES, 2016-2017

The conception and implementation of a series of 6 residencies, involving directly and indirectly international artists, curators and experts. The residencies will address following issues: Lived Architecture, City Branding, Creative Cluster, Oral Histories, Sustainable Tourism, International Networking, Envisioning the Future. Residency participants will be selected by invitation and through an international call for proposals, out of which the most relevant and implementable projects will be selected on the basis of terms of reference closely defined by all partners.

CONFERENCE, SPRING 2017

A two days’ Conference, organised in collaboration with Artecitya’s German partner, ZKU – KunstRepublik. The Conference will focus on Berlin and other German cities as case-studies to discuss issues central to the project, such as participation, citizenship, urban planning, public space, audience development and art for social change. The specific approach and list of speakers will be decided in collaboration with ZKU and according to the preparatory research and networking that will take place in Thessaloniki and Berlin throughout 2015. 

Exhibition, 2018

An exhibition in Thessaloniki (2018) will recapitulate the Agency’s activities since the beginning of the project. Artecitya GR will also be presented in the major exhibition that will present the entire ARTECITYA network in Strasbourg. 

PUBLICATION, 2018

The publication and international dissemination of works on the theoretical and historical aspects of art for social change, its application via the various actions carried out by Artecitya’s network, the results of the project’s research and methods.

RESEARCH TRIPS & NETWORKING 

Throughout the project, a series of research trips & networking activities will take place, in order to investigate relevant initiatives and good practices (New York, London, Paris, Berlin and other German cities and elsewhere).