After the reunification in 1990, Leipzig—as well as other East German cities—had to face the challenges of the new political-administrative system and an open global economy. Through the systematic implementation of its evolving urban development strategies, the city has developed positively in many areas. After the German reunification, most of Leipzig’s districts lacked cultural leisure services that would have been fit for all age groups and close to their homes. In the early 1990s, the establishment of such urgently needed socio-cultural centers was initiated on the one hand by official authorities and on the other by the citizens themselves. Many newly founded associations and initiatives strove hard to maintain the existing or to develop new cultural activities. In order to implement the latter, they were not only interested in the already established cultural sites, but particularly in former industrial structures or other buildings with a rich historical background. The best project in this effort is the world-famous Spinnerei. These urban environments offered vast opportunities for artists, the independent scene, cultural workers and creative industries alike. A large number of Leipzig’s cultural institutions originated from civic engagement and were then, in times of economic recovery, incorporated into municipal ownership. Nowadays, they are threatened to be re-privatized as the city’s means of cultural funding are gradually reaching their limits. But Leipzig planning officials still think that the promotion of cultural projects in the neighborhoods provides a climate where culture is respectfully seen as a precious opportunity for urban development. Through an extensive and varied offer of cultural activities, otherwise marginalized citizens can be integrated in social life and participate in democratic processes.
Cultural Department of the City of Leipzig (2008). Kulturentwick-lungsplan der Stadt Leipzig für die Jahre 2008-2015.
Cultural Department of the City of Leipzig (2011). Kulturentwick-lungsplanung. Entwicklungskonzept 2011-2015. Soziokultur.
Department of Urban Development of the City of Leipzig (2009). Leipzig 2020. Integratives Stadtentwicklungskonzept (SEKo).
Diebler, P. District manager of Leipziger Westen that includes the two major districts of Lindenau and Plagwitz. She was interviewed in July 2011 by Peter Vollmar, one of my research assistants at Leipzig University.