A major Swiss artists’ centre has been ordered to evacuate its long-time home on 8 June with a quarter of a million francs of debt because of a misunderstanding.
Pantographe in Moutier (Canton Jura) has provided an artistic foyer for to up to 120 artists in residence a year over the past 10 years. The owners, Tornos, allowed Pantographe to inhabit the building for free until now. Pantographe says it has been willing to buy the building and thought it had a sales agreement in 2013. What follows is a translation of their press release in French issued this week (19 May 2016):
Court orders Pantographe to vacate its premises. Okay, but …
The bad news first…
On March 31, 2016, refusing any amicable settlement, Tornos [the building’s owner] took the association Collective for Culture to court.
The civil proceedings in the regional court was over quickly: it was a “straightforward” case. The owners are entitled to recover the property without delay.
Our idealistic responses to the purely legalistic arguments by the counsel for Tornos were not favourably received by the judge. Private property is an inalienable right in Switzerland. Owners have the law on their side whether they are honest or not. In this case, failure to complete a sale agreement is not taken into consideration if it does not recorded before a notary. We are paying the price of our naivety.
We can resign ourselves to leaving the Junker factory (l’usine Junker), cutting short any residences still running and programmes, even without having had time to find a new home. But another problem still needs to be solved: In 2012, during mediation in the conflict between MTAH and Pantographe, the municipality has asked us to pay what it had loaned to the Musée du Tour to renovate the north wing of the building. It was a necessary condition for the continuation of the discussions. We borrowed this money from the “Pays des merveilles” foundation and received what we thought was a guarantee to enable us to buy the building afterwards. The promise vanished with the Tornos director who made it: Tornos seems to change its direction like a shirt.
Unlike this company with its questionable morality, we are sticking to our word as it was given to the “Pays des merveilles” foundation: we are committed to repay the loan. The Tornos CFO Mr. Edelmann has said he is willing to discuss the issue with the foundation after we leave, but we do not want to be caught twice. We no longer have any confidence in such promises.
We asked Mr. Winistoerfer to meet with us this afternoon [19 May] to convey to the municipality our conditions: we will vacate the premises on 8 June at noon, as the judge asks, but only if the full CHF228,000.- is paid before this time into the account of the “Pays des merveilles” foundation.
And the good news …
… we invite all supporters to come and share with us the last days of Pantographe in its Prévôtoise form. This event, entitled “MOUTSTOCK” will take place from June 3 to 8 (at noon) 2016.