Bunch of artists and designers who rented their studios in huge former factory VEF full with abandoned or partly empty buildings driven by curiosity started to collaborate by organizing culture events and exhibitions in 2008. After couple years of organizing several culture events they realized the growing audience and that this is a new and inspiring process of how to serve society in the culture field. In 2010 they proclaimed a birth of a new art centre and soon became a popular destination for Rigazens who are looking for something unusual. VEF turned into a creative quarter with several independent culture players that continued to collaborate. Former empty buildings became alive again 15 years after the bankruptcy. Territory itself became more attractive not only for visitors, but also for other creatives. All empty premises were rented out, but demand from creatives, who wanted to move in kept growing. In 2014 more solvent creative tenants started to push out more experimental ones. After witnessing how quickly and without big investments created by creative activists who love what they do can make former void area live and attractive again creative property owners of VEF decided to turn the whole factory area into a creative industry hub for flourishing entrepreneurs and started the reconstruction of premises and improvement of infrastructure, which raised the rents and all creative activists had to leave.
However temporary availability of vacant space for low rents due to not being attractive for successful entrepreneurs caused a rise of several new innovative contemporary culture initiatives which keep being active elsewhere. Totaldobže Art Centre is one of them. Possibility to experiment gave an opportunity to create a new unique culture institution which is playing an important role in the development of contemporary culture in Latvia today.
After the experience of running activities in the conditions of VEF everything seemed possible and leader of the Totaldobže Art Centre artist Kaspars Lielgalvis started to look for new home meanwhile keep organizing culture events in another empty buildings or premises of existing culture institutions.
For 3 months in summer of 2014 Totaldobže Art Centre rented 22 000 m2 of vacant space in the former Press House which was waiting buyer for many years in the very heart of Riga.
After Press House the Totaldobže Art Centre have started collaborations with already existing culture institutions offering to run its activities in their venues. Events has been organized in museums and exhibition spaces, culture centers, concert halls and art residencies.
In 2015 Kaspars Lielgalvis started to look for venues in other cities of Latvia and outside. He met representative from Liepaja City council Culture department who managed to offer several empty properties of Liepaja municipality, so the Totaldobže Art Centre run activities for three month in summer of 2015 in the former Customs house, but in 2016 they have offered another property – former water tower, which was not so good located, but had a unique architecture. After two summers of temporary activities the Totaldobže Art Centre has started negotiation with Liepaja City council and Culture department about running culture program in Liepaja full year.
Liepaja is the third largest city of Latvia with approximately 70 000 habitants, located 200 km from Riga on the coast of the Baltic sea.
In 2015 the Totaldobže Art Centre also had its first activities outside Latvia in collaboration with artist residencies. In 2016 there was organized large contemporary art exhibition together with the art residency MoKs located in rural area of Estonia.
the head of Totaldobže Art Centre