The Croatian Association of Artists (HDLU) is the oldest art
association in the Republic of Croatia and in the whole Balkan region. It has been active since 1868 under
various names. Its members have
through out history given a priceless contribution to culture. The seat of the association is in the
Mestrovic pavilion on the square of the Victims of Fascism. The building was built according to the
designs of Ivan Mestrovic and with the funds of the art association, as a pavilion
for artists. It was the first round art exhibition space in Europe (1938). The building was unlawfully taken from
the association in 1941 by the then fascist government (NDH) and was
transformed into a Mosque. In the next totalitarian regime (Communist regime)
the building was assigned to the Museum of the Revolution. After a large public outcry and media
campaign the building was returned in the beginning of the 1990’s to the Croatian
Association of Artists (HDLU). In
the Mestrovic pavilion each year more then 100 events take place ranging from international
and national exhibits, workshops, residencies and performances. The association has provided in the
last two years more then 1500 citizens free workshops and has worked to improve
the lives not only of its members but also of the community as a whole. The building itself is one of the founding
members of the 360 Network, a European alliance of round cultural buildings
whose partners are England, France, Spain, Denmark and Sweden.
The reason for this appeal is that the city of Zagreb has raised
the rent on this building from 5700.00 Kuna a month to 44,071.00 Kuna a
month. This in order to fill
the city’s budget which is currently extremely depleted due to years of
mismanagement and corruption.
The HDLU is a non-profit association and in regards to the current financial
situation within the country, the association has a very challenging financial
situation. If the association were
to accept this new rent it would mean the immediate closure of the association
which would go bankrupt and the association would be forcibly removed from its
historic center and transformed into most probably a commercial space (such as
a car salon) due to the disinterest of the politicians for culture or the urban
framework of the city.
We appeal not to have the building taken from us yet a third
time and remind all involved that the building was made with the donations of
the artist members, and designed by yet another artist Ivan Mestrovic as a
pavilion for the arts and it should remain a place for the arts. We ask of the
Assembly of the City of Zagreb and all the parties in power, to revoke the new
rent or to completely annul it.
This is the oldest and most prestigious art association in
the country housed in a historical monument created for the arts, to allow it
to extinguish is to allow Croatian culture to be trampled on by greed,
corruption and ignorance.
We ask of you to sign the petition to give us support in our
fight to survive and save our historical building.
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