Oyoun on the Brink: Controversial Closure Raises Questions

Still no reaction from the Berlin Senate | Oyoun has filed a lawsuit | Invitation to the press conference and festival kick-off on December 14-16


Current Situation: Communication Breakdown

The sudden termination of Oyoun’s assured four-year project funding until 2025 – effective from January 01, 2024 – was announced by Berlin’s Cultural Senator Joe Chialo (CDU) during a live stream of the Cultural Committee on November 20, 2023. The senate has yet to respond to demands for access to documents under the Berlin Freedom of Information Act (IFG) made by Oyoun on the same day. The same goes for all other requests made by Oyoun thereafter.

On November 21st, Oyoun received a message citing the Senate’s refusal to allocate funds for the payment of Oyoun’s staff wages, stating that, “the institution will be re-advertised via public tender.” Particularly sensitive is a further reduction of €35,000 in the ongoing funding rate for December 2023, which remains unpaid to this day.

Unfounded Accusation of Antisemitism

There is no legal basis known for an early revocation of the funding contract between the Senate and Oyoun, as well as the ongoing employment contracts between Oyoun and its employees. Oyoun has explicitly refuted the accusations made by the Senate regarding “hidden antisemitism.”

In its statutes, self-perception, Code of Conduct, a binding code of action, and a consensus of values, Oyoun explicitly opposes antisemitism and rejects any form of hostility towards people.

Unique Cultural Centre Files Lawsuit

Since its opening in March 2020, Oyoun has hosted over 2700 artistic and cultural events. The cultural centre has evolved into a unique hub for decolonial, queer*feminist, and diasporic perspectives for numerous communities. This is also reflected in the reactions to the impending closure: an open letter in solidarity with Oyoun was signed by over 13,000 people worldwide in a very short time.

A crowdfunding campaign to support the legal case against the funding cutoff reached its campaign goal of €72,000 within five days. As all previous mediation offers, requests for discussions, and even legal deadlines from the law firm Myrsini Laaser were ignored by the Senate and on December 7 an official lawsuit was filed.

Scandalous Lack of Transparency and its Effects

Within the scope of the ongoing lease agreement, regular appointments for January are currently being arranged between state-owned companies and Oyoun – a practice that suggests that even internal efforts by the Senate towards an efficient resolution are not currently taking place.

For the over 30 employees of Oyoun, the ongoing uncertainty means that, due to officially ongoing employment contracts, they cannot register as unemployed and fear the withdrawal of their livelihoods – for some, even their residency status is at stake.

Invitation to Press Conference + Festival

All signs indicate that Oyoun is to be made an example of. To draw attention to this intimidation, the associated grievances, the arbitrariness of the Berlin Senate, and the disastrous signal that the closure of Oyoun would have on artistic and freedom of expression in Germany.

Oyoun invites press and media representatives on December 14th at 10:30 a.m. to a press conference at Lucy-Lameck-Str. 32, 12049 Berlin. This event also marks the beginning of the three-day festival, Threads of Resilience.

For more information, contact Tariq Bajwa, Bettina Bender, or Wayra Schübel at Oyoun – kommunikation@oyoun.de