Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
Piše: Ekrem Dupanović
A few days before the New Year, the Mixer house closed its doors in Sarajevo. First, it was announced that they will close after the New Year holidays, they announced a spectacular programme but they closed down a few days early.
Mixer opened on the 8th of September and closed down after less than four months. It was announced as a project for urban Sarajevo connecting all the young creative forces of the Balkans. Does this inglorious end mean that Sarajevo is not an urban environment, that our city is not worthy of such a project that blossomed in Belgrade until it was closed down there because of the Belgrade on water project, does this mean that Sarajevo is narrow minded and a primitive city, and it missed out on a chance of a cultural renaissance, as announced by the team behind the Mixer.
To recap. Mixer moved into the refurbished factory halls of old Vaso Miskin Crni factory. Total investment was 300 000 euros. The Mixer team managed to gather ¾ of the necessary funds, some of it coming from their own pocket some from commercial partners, foundations, private donors and friends of the project. The rest of the funds, 25% or 75 000 euros were supposed to be financed by the contributions of the citizenry, interested businesses, future Mixer house visitors and people from around the world who shared the belief that the initiative of supporting the local talent and the cultural reintegration of the region is the right path for putting the Balkans back on the map. An international crowdfunding campaign was also started. The Mixer was meant to be a catalyst for cultural dialogue of the young people of the region regardless of their religion or ethnicity, based on the basic absolute values of Mixer Belgrade who built their name on self sufficiency and being present on the cultural scene of the region, without a penny of state funding.
I was there at the opening, on September the 8th. It all seemed pretty spectacular. I heard the speeches and words of support (from the Mayor to the top of the State) and I was sure it would succeed. After a month, I went there again to show my friends from abroad around. It all seemed bit tatty, full of smoke and dust, but I didn’t pay too much attention to it. I went there again, couple of weeks ago, for a meeting about organising Vladan Srdić’s exhibition, a Belgrade designer living in Ljubljana. Mixer house looked awful. Month old mud on the floor, lot of dust in the air, and when I went to the toilet… Ivan Lalic (and his wife Maja, the alpha and omega of the Mixer) was sat at the next table with his team. They were having their first morning coffee, they were all smiles as if everything was hunky dory. I only found out that not all was well when I received news from N1 that Mixer house would be closing down after the New Year holidays. Even that was not the case, it closed down two days later, cancelling all programmes.
At the opening ceremony, there were the Children’s Regional philharmonic orchestra and Rambo. When they left after three and half months, they did it quietly, silently without a word apart from a short message on their web page signed by Ivan Lalić. I couldn’t see any explanation why it all went so horribly wrong and in a record time. In his short message, Ivan explained that they had to close down due to unpaid debts for the reconstruction of the place, that some donations hadn’t materialised , and that the state support never happened, despite the fact that when they announced that they are moving to Sarajevo it was strongly expressed that Mixer Belgrade was developed without a penny of the state funding and the idea was to be able to succeed by self financing..
The space has been returned to the owner, the Malagić company, who took over all the debts. At the end of his message, which didn’t say much apart from the fact that their huge debts were the cause of closing down, Ivan was deeply grateful to Mr Malagić. We were told unofficially that turbo folk music will now be played there, Malagic has given the use of the space to the TV project Grand.
As nobody is willing to tell the truth, the rumour mill is in overdrive in Sarajevo and the region, stories have started to circulate which could damage Sarajevo as these stories portray Sarajevo as an ungrateful and primitive environment unable to appreciate a gift given to them.
Is this the case?
The facts are that Mixer Sarajevo didn’t have the necessary technical equipment (notably the PA system) for live music. After each concert, social networks were full of stories of bad organisation. There was talk of employees leaving as they were not being paid. The exhibitions, the most important part of the Mixer repertoire, were held on a narrow gallery, where only one row of people could see the exhibits at a time and you had to wait for your turn on the stairs., The parking was always full as well. Bad organisation meant few came to visit.
Only some ten people came to see the opening of Slavimir Stojanović’s exhibition because the invitations were only sent out two days before the opening day. There were many problems in Mixer’s business practices but the tipping point was the bad financial planning and debts. Out of the 300 000 euros needed, they managed to secure 225 000 euros, they were expecting to receive 75 000 euros from the friends of Mixer house and future ticket sales.
Mixer House was a business project. However one tries to present it as a socially responsible project devoted to the promotion of young people’s creativity and their cooperation across the Balkans in order to overcome religious, political , cultural differences and blah, blah, blah – Mixer was a profitable project for the owners, because each idea that “saves” the Balkans from future bloodshed is paid for by foreign donors and sponsors, getting these to pay was Mixer’s speciality. If it was a commercial project, why were Maja and Ivan looking for friends who would give away their money to help Sarajevo into the 22nd century and not investors.
This can’t stay shrouded in darkness and Sarajevo shouldn’t be the dumping ground for the debris left in the wake of Mixer house. Maja and Ivan should come out and explain why the project was disaster and who is responsible (that is if they are back from their hols on Vis). Was it their bad financial planning, debts and bad leadership or somebody from Sarajevo fooled them as is rumoured . If it is Sarajevo’s fault I would be the first one to admit it and even give a donation to get the city out of the quagmire it finds itself in. But if it is not our fault, somebody (and we all know who) should come out and admit their mistakes.
11 January 2018.