Perhaps it’s the city’s fluid identity. Perhaps it’s the dystopian history of its division by the Iron Curtain. Whatever the reason may be, Berlin is rich with a continuous influx of creatives that redefine and reshape the city. The city has always been full of creatives celebrating its grit and raw nature—a city with its own agenda. Almost 30 years after the fall of the wall, Berlin’s creative industry is saturated with a mix of established entities and new innovators that are bubbling under the surface. The combination of these two groups have propelled Berlin to the international stage as one of the preeminent creative hubs of the world.
There are several reasons that keep creative people flocking to the city. One, in regard to the cost of living, Berlin is still the second cheapest major city in Europe, while also being the Silicon Valley of Europe. Two, the city still has plenty of unused and even unexplored spaces to offer. Lastly, the Berlin government’s recognition of the importance of the creatives it houses, the creative industry has solidified its status as a positive contributor to Berlin’s economy.
As creativity remains a growing part of the city’s urban fabric, how will Berlin deal with the problems that come with this success? Will Berlin be able to continue to capitalize on its reputation as a creative hub without conforming to more affluent taste?
In 2019, Berlin’s government has passed a law that freezes rent for the next 5 years. The Senate Department for Urban Development Environmenecognizes Wedding’sapid development of creative industries, but emphasizes the need to maintain affordable urban living and the need to maintain cohesion between different populations. In the United States, some New Yorkers are fighting to prevent corporations from coming in, and, in consequence, increasing the cost of living. Yet, on the other side of the spectrum, San Francisco has embraced big companies, driving up the living cost, and ultimately homogenizing the city with richer, younger, and more educated than those leaving the city.
On one hand, there are initiatives at both the municipal and neighborhood level that show a level of promise to prevent homogenization of the city; but on the other hand, it’s difficult to say how long these efforts will be able to prevent gentrification.
Below are some unique ways Berlin creatives are tackling the issues brought by the virus:
Locals have come together to collect emergency funding for at-risk nightlife workers in Berlin. The shutting down of nightclubs means these people are out of jobs, and this emergency funding helps mitigate the economic damage that COVID-19 is creating.
Editor: Phoebe Hsu