What has happened after subculture-centre Loukko closed it’s doors at February 2022 after 3 years of running the place?
Lue suomeksi tästä
When Loukko was closed early this year, our actives were utterly exhausted and many dropped out. We ran an open cultural space primarily by volunteer work for almost three years which meant hundreds of non-paid hours of work to do, while simultaneously having a life outside including other jobs, schools etc. On top of the bureaucracy of closing and emptying the place we had the aftermath of the abuse case that happened inside our collective during the summer of 2021. You can read more here.
Gladly all of our activities didn’t stop when we closed since one of our actives Ari kept Loukko’s museum club running during spring and the club had four accessible tours to different museums.
Otherwise we let ourselves rest and heal over the summer and continued our work at fall. We started by gathering everyone and checking who’s able and willing to commit to continue the work in our community, meaning improving safety amongst us, unraveling the mistakes that had been done and personal reflection, just to name a few things what needs to be done in order to make Loukko better and safer.
The importance of nurturing our community
When our doors at Castréninkatu were open, all of our time and energy went towards making activities for other people. We didn’t have enough time to take care of our collective’s well-being, which understandably led to exhaustion and members dropping out.
Just to take time to have regular meetings was tricky and mostly they were held during evenings after all the shifts were done and often not until it was absolutely necessary and the to-do lists started to look formidable. Meetings would go on for hours and after the biggest fires were extinguished, there wasn’t any time or energy left for freer conversation.
Now our collective have met every other week same day, same week and with the maximum of two hours at a time. Results being that the threshold of coming is lower, the conversation is more relaxed and not so pressured. We’ve stared to realize how huge and ambitious the totality of running Loukko was at the expense of our well-being.
What’s done and what we’re going to do
When we closed our subculture-centre in Kallio we decided that we won’t be opening a new space until we are certain that the environment is safe for visitors and for ourselves too. This means that we’ll be going through our processes piece by piece and think of better strategies to react to as many possible problems and situations as possible.
Loukko’s visitor survey
For a guideline to our work for making Loukko better, we made a visitor survey at the time of closing. We wanted to know what people hoped from us and how people felt we did our job. And of course for future funding applications we need to know if there even is a need for a safer, open cultural space and if yes, how do the visitors benefit from such place.
Results were analyzed during spring and summer and were presented to the crew at autumn.
183 people answered the survey. After feeling like closing the doors was a huge failure, the answers were truly heart warming. 97% of the respondents felt that there’s a need for a place like Loukko; especially an access to marginal arts and a safer, open space in general. We will present the results of the visitor survey in our annual report, which will be published later. Loukko’s previous annual reports can be found here, but unfortunately only in Finnish.
Our goals for 2022-2023
We set goals for our development work such as:
- Clearer operating practices
- Re-thinking our safer space principles
- Getting education and support
- Building a nourishing work culture
Clearer operating practices
Processing the abuse case within our community has affected all the development work during this fall. We’ve listed the mistakes we’ve done and pondered what we should’ve done differently. We’ve thought a lot about activist burnout, responsibility, how it spreads and to who and where. We’ll be sharing our process and discussion later on for other groups to utilize.
Re-thinking our safer space principles
Based on tips from the visitor survey, our own contacts and a bit of digging we’ve scouted for education and collectives for safer spaces, in which some of our member have been participating during the year.
Even though our group failed the aftermath of one of our member’s abuse, we’ve come to the conclusion that our know-how about safer spaces is quite andvanced in comparison. Many of the education packs on offer are starting from the basics and lack the very essential perspective to subcultures, volunteer work and DIY-culture.
The safer space rules we had on our walls were good and universal. But we have figured that the rules should be updated regurarly and if/when needed to fit a specific event or situation and often our new volunteers weren’t walked through the rules thoroughly enough. We will be doing a workshop series based on this fall’s meetings and education we got in which we will re-write the most important factors of safety and cleared operation practices for future use.
Getting education and support
During autumn we have really re-evaluated ourselves, went through our open activities and also the mistakes of dealing with the abuse case piece by piece. Everything has lead to the conclusion that this kind of volunteer work is extremely burdening which leads ultimately to burnouts, not that we as a group don’t have a lot of know-how already.
So we decided to get outside help, especially on how to avoid exhaustion in activism and thus keeping volunteer work accessible. Equality educator & expert Javiera Marchant Aedo customized a two day education pack for the needs of our community which was held in 2022 December. We’ll be de-briefing the lessons we got with Javiera during 2023 January and we aim to share our perceptions for other to use.
Building a nourishing work culture
From the beginning, one of the main principles of Loukko have been that everyone should be able to participate solely based on each’s own personal abilities and as much or as little as one can. Unfortunately that has meant that the responsibility has landed on a couple of people and thus they haven’t had the chance to consider of their own well-being.
We’ll continue the work towards more sustainable practices of work and share the results.
We’ll be back!
We’ll continue the work we’ve started and share where it brings us as soon as we know that ourselves. At the moment we’re in the middle of the slow process of slowly healing, as individuals as well as a community. But we miss all of Loukko’s visitors, partners and allies! We hope to see you all soon again! <3