Alakulttuurikeskus Loukko, founded and operated by Loukko ry, will end its operation at Castréninkatu by the end of February. The organisation’s efforts towards more accessible and safe culture as well as seeking funding for a new space will continue, but there is much to do in between. The reasons for shutting down the cultural centre have to do with challenges in finances, covid, the collective’s waning energy as well as an instance of abuse within the group that exposed faults in the collective’s practices and know-how.
Why are we closing at Castréninkatu?
From the beginning, Loukko’s goal was to create a safer arena and event space for marginalised art. We also wanted to make it more accessible for marginalised groups to act and even work in the field of culture and art. We believed that we would secure long-time funding by demonstrating the importance of our activity and the scale of the need for safer culture.
We moved into the Castréninkatu space in the spring of 2019, thinking that an opportunity to demonstrate our planned activity would make it easier to secure a larger share of funding elsewhere. The current location was meant to be a laboratory of sorts, where we could make connections, let people familiarize themselves with Loukko’s activity and find out which of its elements were most interesting to our visitors. Because Loukko’s current location is in an apartment building, it was our intention from the start that it would just be a stepping stone towards our own space for gigs and events, where we can be loud throughout the evening without causing stress to our neighbours or stressing about them.
We were not adequately prepared for the possibility that we would not secure more funding after all. On the other hand, we thought that we would rather start organizing and trying out proper activity than have endless meetings as an organisation that exists in name only. Bit by bit it has become clear that diving in headfirst may not have been the best tactic.
We have been scraping by in our current space for almost three years. This is by no means rare for anticapitalist activity or activism, but for a place that is open regularly five to six days a week it is starting to be unsustainable. The members of our working group have done an immeasurable amount of work for Loukko and still needed to make a living elsewhere. Working regular, weekly shifts without pay simply cannot go on from year to year, so something has to change.
Additionally, during the summer of 2021 there was a prolonged case of abuse that led to several people leaving the working group.
Although we have reflected on the principles of safer spaces for years, the case in question showed us that our processes and competence are nowhere near good enough in practice. Not only did the handling of the situation drag on inexcusably long, but it also brought up a surprising amount of disagreement within the working group on how to handle these kinds of situations, as well as the accountability process. Of course, the one who suffered most in this was the victim, Talvi Baldassini, who our working group has not been able to support over all properly or with the necessary understanding, or correctly. This is of course unacceptable for any organisation that claims to uphold safer space principles.
Here we would like to sincerely apologise to the former member, Talvi, for the mistreatment they experienced. On behalf of the whole working group, we are truly sorry for the treatment you received. Although the abusively behaving member of the team stepped aside as soon as the situation became apparent, our team has messed up by being incompetent in dealing with the situation at hand and supporting the victim.
We are publishing the victim’s name of their own wish. We are not publishing the abuser’s name because of legal reasons, but we hope for them to reflect, improve, and correct their behaviour before taking part in any communal activity.
We want to concentrate on bettering our internal communications and procedures for the future, so that carrying on, we can offer a safer space for our visitors as well as a safe and trustworthy way to take part in Loukko for our working group. We have to also focus on building our own community, because unfortunately continuously running the centre has taken away the time we need for bonding and building a sense of community, that should be the foundation of all our work.
We do not currently have the resources to continue running a space with all its current activity, apply for funding for it and a new spaces simultaneously or educate ourselves as a group. Expectations towards Loukko’s operations and working group are high (which is great!), and we want to be able to respond to those expectations honourably. At the moment we do not fulfill said expectations.
Our lease on Castréninkatu ends on 15.3.2022, and we are discontinuing the lease of our own accord. We are closing Alakulttuurikeskus Loukko on Castréninkatu by the end of February 2022. Our last week in operation in the current space is 21.-26.2. During this time almost everything in the space will be available for free or for sale for an affordable price. We are planning some small and fun programme for this final week, as the pandemic situation allows.
We will continue our work as an organisation and a collective, and we will stay posted about our work in the future, once the direction becomes clear to us. In the future we may, for example, function as a web media, a community of opinion leaders, or an event organizing collective that is not tied to a specific space.
However, first we have to take some time to gather our strength and get into shape. This will include rebuilding our safer space guidelines and practices from scratch, starting an accountability process and rebuilding our practices so we can avoid such mistakes happening again in the future. Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taiteen edistämiskeskus) has awarded a grant of 30 000€ for our activities for 2022, and part of this funding will be used for training the team and consulting people with more knowledge about safer spaces.
Only when we can be sure that we won’t repeat the mistakes made in handling the crisis, will we be able to consider opening a new space. We will still continue to work towards our own safer space rule abiding space for gigs, encounters and events for minorities, marginalized groups and subcultures.
We want to give great thanks to each and all of you, who have been part of Loukko’s story over the past six years – there are so many of you, that the list would be endless!
We’ll share more of 2021’s activity and partners in the annual report that shall be published soon, but in spite of everything, we managed to do a lot of good as well. Loukko has been and will be very dear to those making it a reality, and letting go of the centre isn’t easy for us.
We ask for your understanding, as the situation is difficult for our working group in many ways. We will let you know about our operations on our social media and website when we have announcements to make.
If you want to ask or chat about the reasons behind Loukko’s activity ending, you can contact us in Finnish or English: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll process the messages and answer them to the best of our ability, using the resources we have at hand at the moment.
If you want to support Loukko’s operations, here are some ways you can do so:
ANSWERING OUR QUESTIONNAIRE
If you find Loukko’s activity worth continuing, help us towards greater funding by answering our questionnaire. Its purpose is to find out what kind of benefits and meaning Loukko’s activity brings to individuals and communities, as well as what kind of activity you’d like the organisation to hold.
Because we do not yet know what form our activity shall take in the future, we have not set a minimum price for a support membership in 2022. If you want to financially support the continuation of our work, you can follow the instructions here to pay a sum of your choice.
Do it HERE