To the city of Turku: let us keep Barker Teatteri
BARKER-Theatre, Stage for Independent Art in Turku has, throughout its 23 years of existence, served as an important meeting place and creative hub for a large number of national and international artists, audiences, performing art students and other performing arts practitioners in Turku. Following the news that Barker theatre will loose its spaces in the old Barker sewing factory in Raunistula we are composing this letter of protest.

We who sign this letter want to bring attention to the large impact Barker has had on the performing arts scene in Turku. We demand that the position of Barker as a creative hub for independent arts should be acknowledged, that Barker should be able to continue its activities in its present space or if that is not possible, that another space with the same facilities will be provided for by the city of Turku.

Here follows a short account of what Barker is to us.

Barker theatre is a space for performing artists to create new work. In Barker many new and emerging artists have gotten an opportunity to work and show new performances. For some of us this has been a necessary and very valuable step in our artistic career. At the same time there are those of us who are already established artists who continue to come back to make performances in Barker because of its large and unique rehearsal and performing spaces, because of Barkers productional flexibility as well as because of its openness towards artistic experimentation and long term creative process. Barker theatre stands out for its ability to be responsive and sensitive to the artists immediate needs in terms of space and economical agreements. For many of us this has been a welcomed variation and contrast to the other wise more rigid and slow cultural support systems in Turku.

Barker theatre is a space for national and international exchange. Barker has hosted a large number of national and international artists throughout the years. Some of us have arrived in Turku invited through Barker’s summer residency program, some have come as teachers for self-organized workshops, some have been invited by other collaborators for projects or courses and some have come as curious visitors interested in the Turku arts scene. Barker has generously offered its facilities in order to make our visit to Turku possible and/or worthwhile.

Barker is a meeting place for creative souls. Barker is not only a place to create works but also a place to meet. For many of us, new connections have been made and new friends have been found during the Barker “incognito”-nights, or during courses, classes and afternoons of rehearsals in the studio.

Barker is a space for education. Some of us have learned new skills while visiting courses and classes in Barker’s dance studio. And some of us have had the pleasure of collaborating with Barker for organizing these courses, many of these courses would not have been possible to realize in other spaces in Turku. The Barker dance studio stands out in the dance community for its large size and high quality dance floor.

We, who sign this have had the pleasure of visiting Barker theatre as independent artists, audiences, artists in residency, performers, students, teachers, collaborating partners, participants and/or colleagues and friends. We come from various artistic disciplines and generations, from Turku and other places in Finland as well as from many other corners of the world. Without Barker we would not have been able to create work, perform, see certain shows, participate in courses or meet colleagues in Turku. Some of us might not even have ended up in Turku at all.

We think that Barker theatre needs to be considered as a vital organ of the living, evolving cultural field of Turku and such a vital organ should not be wiped out. If Barker disappears it will not only be a great tragedy for artists in Turku, but also for the city itself that will lose one of its most unique and important creative work spaces.


(The letter can be signed until february 28th 2021)
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