On Tuesday morning, October 8, 2019, the police took over Hands d'Oeuvres, a cultural place of citizen initiative. The neighborhood is cordoned off, the place occupied for inventory, users gathered in the rain organize an improvised event. We know this scene too well. Intermediate places, third-places, cultural wastelands, fablabs, squats and artists' collectives, how many of our places have fallen?
[call for support to sign at the bottom of the page] On Tuesday morning, October 8, 2019, the police took over Hands d'Oeuvres, a cultural place of citizen initiative. The neighborhood is cordoned off, the place occupied for inventory, users gathered in the rain organize an improvised event. We know this scene too well. Intermediate places, third-places, cultural wastelands, fablabs, squats and artists' collectives, how many of our places have fallen? How many more are now at risk? The drama unfolding at the moment in Mains d'Oeuvres is not only a tragedy for the 70 employees and 250 residents who work there every day. It is a tragedy for the inhabitants of Saint-Ouen to whom this place offers a space of cultural and artistic practice, for the wide public who have shared its cultural life for more than twenty years, for each of the places of our networks who know how this event updates the threats that weigh on its own existence. It is a tragedy for all those concerned with the implementation of a cultural democracy concerned with the rights of people, all those concerned with the right to the city and all those concerned with the political future of our municipalities. This tragedy is our tragedy to all of us, as citizens. It is the drama of the commons that is played out before our eyes, of the spaces and goods that bind between them territories and populations and make us live in a world in common.
"It is not the man to be saved, but the space that brings all men together," Hannah Arendt said.
Where is the general interest in this decision?Hands of Works is a cultural place in order of operation, which no longer has to prove the value of its action. He is supported by the communities, by the state, his recognized work. It is a valuable tool for the inhabitants of Saint-Ouen, for the 93 and for the entire cultural milieu in France. What's more, it is a thrifty tool, when you compare the contribution it asks of the community to the cost of traditional cultural equipment and the services it provides to the public. He is one of the leading figures of the cultural wasteland movement, of intermediate places, of what was once called "new territories of art" and now called "third-places"; he continues to participate in the invention of new forms of culture. In place of Hands d'Oeuvres, the mayor is carrying out a project for a music conservatory, of which there is currently only a deliberate municipal council. Only the right of enjoyment of the owner seems to be exercised here. Is that enough to say in the public interest? To embody it? Wouldn't the work carried out by the Hands of Works teams on a daily basis, in connection with the inhabitants, their children, the public constitute a more convincing form? In June, the State convened five ministries – education, labour, territorial cohesion, economy, culture – with great fanfare to inaugurate the National Council of Third Places. However, the Prefect of Seine Saint-Denis took the decision to hasten the deportation without waiting for the opinion of the execution judge who was due to rule on 3 December. It is not clear that the state's services have come to respond to the demands of a mayor, six of whom have just resigned, including the State's culture assistant, at a time when the state itself has spoken out in favour of a policy to support these civil society initiatives of which Hands d'Oeuvres is a pioneer. How can we understand this contradictory movement which expels with one hand softens places and the other? Is it necessary to hear, despite the statements of Minister of Culture Frank Riester at the National Council of Third Places, that it is not so much a question of recognizing and supporting intermediate places (or third places, or fablabs…) but to recover this new field of citizen action, even if it means ousting the most autonomous actors? We would then spend time of the wasteland, where a common culture, made from the inhabitants, was imagined in a culture of transitional urban planning where, under the guise of third-places, it is ensured that the spaces left vacant by the State, in its movement of disengagement, are put back in the hands of the private interest, in the name of a territorial attractiveness that tends to merge with a logic of land reclamation where the idea of the same kind is gradually lost. And indeed, the Fertile City in Pantin, where the National Council of Third Places was inaugurated, is a place run by Sinny Ooko, a for-profit company that knows how to use the values that our places have carried for years but seems more concerned with building a small economic empire by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the construction of Greater Paris than to realize cultural democracy.It would be very regrettable, however, if the real purpose of the National Council of Third Places were, under the guise of the historical, real and sincere commitment of the bearers of third-places and joint initiatives, to serve as an alibi for a transfer of the general interest to the private sector. That is why we, intermediate and independent places, third-places, fablabs, associated professional networks and participants of these dynamics, cultural actors, artists, collectives and places, take the floor to ask the Prefect of Seine Saint-Denis and the Mayor of Saint-Ouen to return Hands d'Oeuvres to its users and call the National Council of Third Places, the Ministry of Culture , the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion and the Ministry of Economy to join us in this request. Finally, in order to clarify the meaning of public action on third places, we call on the state and communities to distinguish, in the civil society initiatives to which they support, between initiatives that fall under the private and those that fall within the scope of the common. We call for the growing interest in third places to be an opportunity to take care of this third-space that has grown up between public and private action, according to the logic of the commons, so that these new forms of citizen action that are multiplying in the territory can contribute, since their practice, to the exercise and redefinition of the general interest. In the name of the public interest, we call on the state and its services to take care of these citizen initiatives and not to hinder them, as is all too often the case. In this regard, we refer you to the work that has been carried out in Rennes, within the framework of the 3rd National Forum of Intermediate and Independent Places of the CNLII (National Coordination of Intermediate and Independent Places > www.cnlii.org) and which identify a number of experiences and concrete proposals around public/common partnerships. There are solutions operating in the territory. Let us put them together so that never again will something as absurd as the expulsion of Hands of Works happen. For the National Coordination of Intermediate Places – Independent (cnlii.org) Artfactories/other parts, National Resource Centre (autresparts.org)
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