Contemporary art center could get a new home

The "KIM?" contemporary art center could soon have a permanent home in Rīga at Hanzas iela 22, after the Latvian Saeima expressed its willingness February 1 to hand over suitable premises free of charge

According to the draft law, which the Saeima supported in a first reading on Thursday, the large building could be converted to create studios for artists, international artist residencies, exhibition spaces, as well as educational and public event spaces. 

Rīga is the only capital city of the Baltic States that does not have such a contemporary art space and a general lack of workshop space for artists has an effect on their creative output, according to advocates of the project. 

The building has been empty since 2015, but from 1948 to 2015, it was used for educational purposes - it housed the Riga Food Industry Technical School and the Riga Business College for a long time.

In the event that the restoration of the real estate is not started or it is not made available to the public within a certain period, the real estate would revert to the state, the draft law says. 

The oddly-named "KIM?" contemporary art center was founded in 2009, and since then has built a reputation for organizing contemporary art exhibitions and creative projects of a high standard, often without much funding or support. The name actually derives from the question “Kas ir māksla?” ("What is art?"). 

In order for the draft law to enter into force, it must be approved in two more readings in the Saeima.

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