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Berlin clubs seek recognition as cultural institutions in parliament presentation

Venues are fighting for protection against gentrification

Clubs in Berlin are fighting to gain the same cultural recognition as opera houses, concert halls and theatres.

They are classified currently as "entertainment venues" alongside brothels and casinos, but seek the legal status that would protect them from gentrification in the German capital.

On Wednesday (12th February) a group dedicated to protecting the capital’s nightlife took to the Bundestag, urging for greater protection as venues are driven out of urban areas due to high rents, investors refuse to grant long-term leases, new-builds are increasingly erected, and residents file noise complaints.

According to an article in The Guardian, over 100 venues in Berlin alone have closed in the past ten years, including the beloved Griessmuehle recently, and a further 25 are under threat. The issue even has its own word: clubsterben (meaning 'club death').

A collective of club owners and supporters, known as Clubcommission, appeared in parliament to argue that clubs were “the pulse of the city”, annually attracting around 3 million tourists and contributing €1.5bn to the local economy.

Pamela Schobess, who runs Berlin club Gretchen and was one of the activists in parliament, told InfoRadio that "the difference between opera and club is the style of music."

Former nightclub owner Jakob Turur urged that if the law was not changed, clubs would be subjected to “commercialisation and mainstreaming… already we’re seeing clubs pushed to the margins of cities because the rents are too high and investors don’t want to make long-term contracts. That is no recipe for a diverse cultural offering.”

Proposed plans mean that investors and new owners would be obliged to protect new buildings from noise when their properties were close to clubs, with noise barriers and thicker windows also possible solutions.