The Instagram page of the cultural center on Lucy-Lameck-Straße in Neukölln shocked many when it announced that Oyoun’s funding would be canceled and the room would be closing next month. The decision to cancel funding and close the room came after public criticism of Oyoun’s work following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7. Oyoun’s new sponsor, which took over the former Workshop of Cultures in 2020, had made it its mission to implement “artistic-cultural projects through decolonial, queer*feminist, and migrant perspectives” and to create “space for critical debate, reflected experimentation and radical solidarity”.
In light of recent events, the Berlin Cultural Senate urged the cancellation of a planned “mourning and hope celebration” for the 20th anniversary of the Jewish Voice, a group that is considered close to BDS and wrote on its homepage after the Hamas attack that, “What happened now was like a prison break, after the inmates were sentenced to life imprisonment simply because they are Palestinians.” Oyoun viewed the Senate’s move as an infringement on freedom of art and freedom of expression. In response, they said, “We were warned by the Berlin Senate that artistic freedom can no longer be guaranteed for topics that are too politically charged.”
Last Monday, in the culture committee, Culture Senator Joe Chialo emphasized the government’s criticism of the cultural center and the need to actively prevent anti-Semitism. AfD also used the situation to improve its image and shoot against the left. “We also view Oyoun very critically,” proclaimed the district chairman of the AfD in Neukölln, Robert Eschricht, that it was a “glowing web of academic anti-Semitism.” You stand on the side of the Jewish community in Berlin.
While Oyoun’s Instagram post emphasized that the Senate had announced the “cancellation” of funds for the cultural center, the Senate claims they did not announce a cancellation of funds.
The funding that provided around one million euros to Oyoun would expire normally at the end of the year. However, the Senate says they are discussing “a new profile” for the Lucy-Lameck-Straße property. They stated that Oyoun could apply for new project funding at the cultural location will follow as an orderly process. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Oyoun will receive new funding given the developments.