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Background

POGON is a direct result of the advocacy and activism of previous years. It was initiated by a coalition of NGOs consisting of two national networks (one of independent culture – Clubture Network, the another made up of youth organizations – Croatian Youth Network), the local collaborative platform Zagreb – Cultural Kapital of Europe 3000, and three independent cultural venues (Mochvara, Attack!, and MaMa). The coalition started an exhaustive advocacy process in early 2005, a few months before the local elections. For the first time, the needs of independent culture and youth in Zagreb were articulated, publicly discussed, and stated in a policy document signed by the future political decision-makers. In parallel to public discussions, media activities, and protest actions, the coalition organized a series of events, Operation:City, which every year focused on a different specific issue important for the urban development of the contemporary city. Through various formats and forms of artistic expression, it temporarily occupied different abandoned locations and, among other things, promoted the idea of a cultural center on which POGON was modeled. After the first Operation:City in September 2005, when over a period of 10 days one of the few remaining former factory sites that had not fallen prey to the wholesale commercialization of space was temporarily occupied by over 50 programs from more than 30 independent cultural organizations, drawing over 15000 visitors, the city mayor promised to save the industrial site of Badel/Gorica for public use and to create a cultural and youth center there. During the following four years, relations with the City went from reserved cooperation, ignorance, and obstruction, to direct attacks, drastic budget cuts, fights in the media and the shutting down of the cultural club Mochvara. Even so, cultural and youth activists did not give up. They continued protesting and negotiating, and before the local elections in 2009. the City finally agreed to establish the Center.