Arts vs. Politics: Ernst Reuter Platz

(as reported by)

       Berlin-Inside (renewed copyright)
Original REPORT released  August 18th, 1997 

A quiet, but hot Sunday.  90 Fahrenheit in the city.  A smooth and warm wind cooling down not only the sweat from labour, but the anger directed at Berlin’s politicians - once again.Ernst-Reuter-Platz

Berlin, with more land allocated to city parks and other outdoor recreational areas than any other city in the world, also has 550 fountains, which rivals Rome, and makes the fountains one of the city’s trademarks.  But, due to "the budget deficit in public spending", only 50 fountains are currently operating.  Berlin looks like a desert of fountains.

In attempt to save the fountains, a private organisation is working to raise money and support.  The initiative is inspired by the famous fountains located at Ernst-Reuter-Platz in Berlin-Charlottenburg, and headed by Isolde Josipovici, a small hotel owner herself in Charlottenburg.  The group’s goal is to find sponsors and volunteers to help maintain the
fountains.The fountains at Ernst-Reuter-Platz, a large traffic circle or round-about, is one of the landmarks between the Brandenburg Gate and the International
Convention Centre (ICC).  Five of the city’s major traffic routes intersect here, and their cultural roots date back to the time that Werner Duettman’s was creating colourful illuminations of the fountains. Today this place is wasted. 

The square and its large fountains, later named in honour of the first, Berlin mayor, Ernst Reuter, was once the rage throughout Europe.  But in 1994, the fountains were turned off due to lack of public funds to maintain them, and since 1996 public spending has decreased.

Recently cleaned up by private sources, estimates for the complete restoration of the fountains is set at about DM 3,5 million ($2 million). No money means, no money for the city’s fountains to spray, and no money for the parks to remain green. 

Note, ad-ins later the year: Reuter’s son, Edzard Reuter (CEO of car brand Mercedes and the Berlin bank), was soon available for comment, and hopes were raising high that his interest in this project will move things a bit.

Currently, there are no plans of how to generate public funding for the fountains.  Public officials blame the Berlin Love Parade that proceeds from Ernst-Reuter-Platz through the Tiergarten to the Brandenburg Gate, as one of the reasons for the extensive damage that the city cannot afford to repair.  Ironically, this huge, annual techno party generated over DM 20 million in tax revenues in 1997 alone (10 million USD), which could have easily provided the necessary funding to restore the fountains.  To date, the city government have not allocated any tax revenues generated from the Love Parade to the public spending budget for improving quality of life projects in Berlin.

Meanwhile, Ms. Josipovici, who describes herself as stupid enough to fight an almost lost battle, continues her efforts, but says "It is difficult to find sponsor these times."  She has been successful in the past in drawing attention to the effort through classical concerts and other public events, but for the coming weekend, she and a friend will be cleaning the fountains alone.  There are other private organisation like the Interessengemeinschaft City which are taking over the responsibility where the state abandoned it.

The brilliant idea is to save the tiles from Ernst Reuter Platz, give them to Berlin artist, who are painting on this tiles - and sell them of in a charity. (db.)

The story continues

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