Protesters take to the streets after Moldovan authorities threaten creative groups with eviction

Protesters take to the streets after Moldovan authorities threaten creative groups with eviction
A crowd of protesters with the sign "#ministryofsubculture we support independent culture". Image: Doyna-Romanta Dochitan

3 February 2020

Moldovan artists and activists have taken to the streets amid attempts by the country’s Ministry of Culture to evict creative groups from their historic home.

Independent cultural and civic groups protested against the decision to remove them from The House of Zemstva, a historical building in Chisinau which has hosted much of the city’s alternative art scene for the past eight years.

The National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History, who manage the building, sent a ten day eviction notice to Art Labyrinth and Bastion — two of the 20 organisations to call the building home — on 23 January. No reason was given for the decision.

The notice was eventually cancelled following demonstrations on Saturday, but authorities say they will still need to carry out a “technical inspection” into the state of the building.

“[Alternative art culture in the Republic of Moldova] has managed to stay active, engage local and international artists, and attract a diverse, multicultural audience,” protestors wrote in a petition, which has been signed by more than 1,500 people over six days. “And now, the new head of the Ministry, decided to take away the little support there was for cultural initiatives and throw them into the street.”

“We wouldn’t have known [about Zemstva House] if Art Labyrinth and a plethora of other organisations hadn’t organised events there,” one supporter wrote on social media.

The House of Zemstva — also known as the Museum of Zemstva — was built in the mid-nineteenth century but closed after the Second World War and only hosted its first cultural event in 2012. The TANDEM festival brought together 47 independent cultural organisations from Moldova, Ukraine and the EU to build long-term partnerships and expand their skills and networks.

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