Since 2016 Emma has been running as an independent social and cultural centre in Kaunas, Lithuania. We, the collective of Emma, have been aiming to provide a space for community, promote solidarity and emancipatory politics. However, a prolonged quarantine has become a financial challenge to maintain the space. Therefore, we are calling for help from our community, as well as other people, who want to support free social spaces and left movements in Eastern Europe. We aim to gather 2000 euros, that would be enough to secure a one year rent for the space.
Until now the social centre has been the only “landmark” in the city to commemorate a world-known writer and political activist - Emma Goldman, who was born in Kaunas 1869. During four years of existence, the social centre has hosted various events and conferences on topics of feminism, LGBTQ, workers rights; many films screenings and concerts; and off course, unforgettable parties, because (sorry for a cliche) - ‘if you can’t dance, you are not part of my revolution!’
The social centre has been the place where many of the current left-wing initiatives in Lithuania started. In 2018 the May 1st Labor Union (G1PS) was established here. It grew out of solidarity network, which was organising protests against wage-stealing bosses. Today G1PS is one of the labor unions organising in precarious sectors, such as food delivery workers. Emma is the place where people come to consult about their rights in the workplace or to get advice on how to organise their own union.
One of the main Lithuanian left wing news platform - gpb.lt - grew out of the same movement that brought people together to open the social centre. The full name of the platform means “Life is too expensive”, which had become the main slogan of the 2016 protests against erasure of workers rights and rising prices of living. Emma has been the meeting place as well as political venue that popularized left-wing political ideas in Kaunas and Lithuania.
Apart from an event space, Emma runs an open library. We keep a large literature collection on Critical theory, Feminist, Marxist, Queer and other topics - books, that unfortunately, are hard to find in university libraries or other institutions in Lithuania. Last, but not least, Emma has helped to organise several feminist conferences - the last one in 2019, that gathered around 100 activists and academics from Eastern Europe to discuss gender struggles in the region.
Ever since we opened the space, we aimed to keep it as open as possible - if you show solidarity and respect for people, everyone can come, stay and use the space without any obligatory fee. However, 2020 has drained our resources as we could not organise events and collect the finances that we need to maintain the space.
We want Emma to survive the coronavirus and bring it back to life after the quarantine ends - for that to happen, we need your support!