The first nice residency in ückendorf creative. Quarter bears fruit

by Aude Bertrand, ecce

Customised, personal, inspired and inspiring: the alternative tour of the Ruhr region brought together five artists and creatives from London, Bilbao and Berlin. From 26 to 29 April, Catherine Bottrill (from the UK), Patricia Gutierrez, Cristina Velasco (both from Spain), Nathan Lange and Stefan Mekiffer (both from Germany) were our guests at the Halfmannshof artists’ community in the Ückendorf Creative.Quarter. We accompanied them and hooked them up with local individuals and institutions. It was a fruitful exchange and generated new ideas for the Ruhr region.

Improving the world step by step instead of putting it to rights overnight: a residency with a difference.

If you imagine an artistic and creative tour of the Ruhr region, you might expect a few industrial highlights, a chance to absorb the landscape and to capture the unique atmosphere in a few sketchy snapshot moments, to hang around with like-minded people from the residency, go to the local pub and maybe spend a night putting the world to rights. Then – after a few days or weeks – the return journey: recalling impressions on the way home and hopefully being inspired to come up with some new projects.

The first NICE residency was not like this at all. We developed customised tours for Catherine, Patricia, Cristina, Nathan and Stefan, shortlisted nominees from the NICE Award 2016. Hardly anything was left to chance because we approached individuals and institutions in Gelsenkirchen, Bochum, Dortmund and Essen in advance. We probed for mutual interests and acted as a kind of project matchmaker. By the time the guests arrived in Gelsenkirchen from Berlin, Bilbao and London it was clear that the four-day residency could lead to fruitful discussions and ideas.

Well looked after: Lovingly furnished guest rooms and a strong team presence in the Ückendorf Creative. Quarter

 Let the guests arrive: The rooms are ready, and a friendly welcome committee is waiting


Let the guests arrive: The rooms are ready, and a friendly welcome committee is waiting Location: Ückendorf Creative.Quarter. Arrival: Wednesday 26 April. The rooms at the Halfmannshof artists’ community are freshly prepared, complete with towels and a bunch of flowers. We want our guests to feel at home. A friendly team – Christiana van Osenbrüggen and Anabel Starosta – are waiting and pick the guests up from the station so that there’s no risk of them getting lost on connecting trains through the Ruhr region.

Personalised tours

After a group breakfast at Halfmannshof on Thursday 27 April, the programme starts at 10 a.m. on the dot. This is where the paths divide: Sandra Czerwonka, Bernd Fesel and Nadine Hanemann from ecce arrive to collect the guests. Catherine sets off for the NRW-Forum in Düsseldorf, where she meets Artistic Director Alain Bieber, as well as Reinhard Krämer and Marlene Schüsseler from the NRW Ministry of Culture. Then it’s off to the Business Development Agency in Dortmund. This programme, supervised by Sandra, is very specific: the graceful Brit is a successful energy entrepreneur, specialising in green energies and is campaigning for greater sustainability in the creative community. -> read more: Julie’s Bicycle Project.


In photo (right): Catherine Bottrill


The Spaniards get into Bernd’s car. First stop: the Gelsenkirchen Art Museum, just one of the Ruhr art museums on the itinerary. Ella Katharina König, who is responsible for art outreach and education, is intrigued. Patricia and Cristina have developed a 3D process for art institutions like the Museo del Prado in Madrid and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. It is a type of 3D touchscreen that allows visually impaired visitors to experience paintings. -> read more: Touching the Prado project.


Patricia Gutierrez and Cristina Velasco talking to Regina Selter of Dortmunder U (left)


For the representatives of the ROC21 project in Berlin, the first stop is the Zukunftsakademie NRW (NRW Future Academy) in Bochum. Their first contact on the Ruhr scene is Guy Dermosessian, who is also known as a DJ and who runs the IKF-funded Kalakuta Soul Records project. As a result of his work at the Zukunftsakademie, he is very sensitive to the issue of building an inclusive society, which is particularly pressing in the context of the so-called refugee crisis. Among other things, Nathan and Stefan are involved in the construction side of ROC21 and have specialised in low-cost conversions of unoccupied inner-city buildings. -> read more: ROC 21 (Refugee Open Cities) project.


Moritz Jüdes (front left, prüfen) and Jochen Nünnin (back)


Impressions of the Ruhr Creative. Quarters

In the evening everyone gathers again in Gelsenkirchen for dinner with representatives of the City of Gelsenkirchen and ecce. Dr Volker Bandelow and Andreas Piwek welcome the European guests and run through plans and concepts. Afterwards, for anyone not too tired after all these impressions, there is a jazz concert.

Visiting the Creative.Quarters: In Essen with Peter Petersen. Dr Volker Bandelow goes through new plans.


Concrete project ideas for the Ruhr region

Friday, 28 April is no less busy than the previous day. Catherine is at KlimaExpo.NRW, a climate change project, then in Essen to visit Essen Marketing Gesellschaft and the city’s environmental agency. Discussions with the various institutions over the two days lead to new ideas: a European sustainability project perhaps? Or an NRW climate film festival? There is nothing like this in Germany yet. Nathan and Stefan spend the morning in Dortmund. Together with Nadine Hanemann, head of research and evaluation at ecce, they visit Gesa Harbig from VMDO, an umbrella association for migrant organisations, and also take a look at accommodation there. Later, at ecce, they meet Bernd, who sounds out the possibilities of collaboration within the Ruhr Creative.Quarters project. Patricia and Cristina are in Essen today, visiting the Essen North Creative.Quarter, where they discuss the technological possibilities of 3D printing with Peter Petersen from 3D-Druckzentrum Ruhr. Then they go to Dortmund, where they are welcomed by Jasmin Vogel, Marketing Director of the Dortmunder U, an art and creative centre. Regina Selter at the Museum am Ostwall gives them a guided tour of the exhibition, which leads to intensive discussions. Regina Selter would like to test the technology developed in Bilbao for the Fluxus collection at the Dortmunder U. The technology digitises works of art and replicates them using a process similar to 3D printing, so that visually impaired visitors can experience them. Promoted with the motto “Please touch”, the technology adds a new dimension to museum educational work (although it also has technology cost implications).

In-depth discussions with Regina Selter from the Museum am Ostwall


Official final dinner at Halfmannshof

Over a final dinner at Halfmannshof, the participants share the impressions gathered over two eventful days. Christiana van Osenbrüggen, an expert from the Ückendorf Creative.Quarter shows a film from “Bochumer Straße Speaks”, an international project for bringing unoccupied properties to life.

One thing is certain: the foundation stone has been laid. A second NICE residency is planned for next spring.

Final presentation and dinner: Creative entrepreneurs and artists from the Ruhr region are among the guests


The foundation stone has been laid. >> Read more about the NICE Award


About the first NICE residency 2017:

The projects Touching the Prado, Julie’s Bicycle and ROC 21 were selected from the NICE shortlist 2016. All three projects connect creative entrepreneurship with social challenges like climate change, the refugee crisis and enabling people with disabilities to participate in cultural life.

About the NICE Award and the NICE Network:

The European NICE Network was set up in 2013 under the leadership of the european centre for creative economy (ecce) in Dortmund. Today it has 28 partners in 13 countries.

It promotes the cultural and creative industries through the NICE Award, Europe’s only innovation prize open to artists as well as cultural and creative entrepreneurs, public institutions and non-profit foundations. Since 2013, over 400 innovation projects have applied for the NICE Award, which is awarded by an independent jury. >> To the NICE Award 2017 [LINK]