DANCE WITH THE OCTOPUS – Berlin’s creative scene launches startup in Thessaloniki

Berlin, 4 May 2016. As part of this year’s re:publica, leaders of Berlin’s cultural and creative scene announced the launch of OCTOPUS GARDEN, a startup based in Thessaloniki, Greece, and inspired by the famous song by the Beatles. The initiators aim to engage with the creative economy on-site, to support the cultural and economic exchange with Berlin and to capture the potential of this Greek port city: its liveliness and its openness, of which it holds a lot in common with Berlin. The founders of OCTOPUS GARDEN are well known in Berlin:

Ansgar Oberholz, expert of the startup scene, author and operator of St. Oberholz.
Creator Broker Owner (CBO), a company founded in 2015 by re:publica’s general manager Andreas Gebhard.
Christian Goiny, spokesperson of media policy for the CDU Parliamentary Group in the Berlin House of Representatives and a great friend of Thessaloniki.
Julia Simone Ismiroglou, general manager of newthinking communications GmbH and member of the ‘Creative Industries’ committee of Berlin’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
Piranha Arts, operator of Karneval der Kulturen Berlin, the international music expos WOMEX and Classical:NEXT and consultants of creative network initiates worldwide.
Steffen Boettcher, general manager of the communications agency brandung3, as well as of the MEER-SEEN Wassersportschule.

WOMEX’s head of production, Matoula Koutsari from Thessaloniki, takes over the management of OCTOPUS GARDEN.

The OCTOPUS GARDEN founding members are not unknown in Thessaloniki, either. After the WOMEX’s 2012 edition in Thessaloniki, all of these founding members were active on site, participating with various events, projects and cooperations, whether on a political, consulting, event management or creative level.

“Thessaloniki was the worthy final stop of a crazy 4531km bus trip through Europe. The city immediately struck me and blew me away. You feel like you want to launch something and to connect with the existing and open structures. It’s similar to the feeling in Berlin at the beginning of the 90s – only with the sea in front of your doorstep. I am excited to see what will happen, when the octopus stretches its tentacles.” – Ansgar Oberholz

“It is quite rare that you visit a city and it gives you the feeling of coming home. That feeling is what I connect with Thessaloniki, and it is only logical that a strong group from Berlin initiates the platform OCTOPUS GARDEN. I am looking forward to many exciting projects in Thessaloniki, Berlin and elsewhere.” – Andreas Gebhard, CEO Creator Borker Owner GmbH

“Thessaloniki connects the past and the future. Thessaloniki connects cultures. Thessaloniki connects Europe with the Near East. Thessaloniki connects Europeans. In Thessaloniki, ideas and creativity can be connected with perspectives for young people. That is why I feel very connected to Thessaloniki…” – Christian Goiny

“The creative industry in Thessaloniki is as exciting and pulsating as it is in Berlin. I am really looking forward to being a part of this and I am convinced that we can build a bridge between the two hotspots, which will offer us a great insight into both ecosystems.” – Julia Simone Ismiroglou

“The south European metropolis at the border to the Near East is about to develop into a top global destination for digital nomads. Since we docked in this town with WOMEX in 2012, we just could not let it go. The joint initiative to open an office with a sea view is the right action in the right place to give a little back of what Berlin has received from all over the world over the past years.” – Christoph Borkowsky, Präsident Piranha Arts

“Creativity, a willingness to learn, communication, finding joy in travel, many arms – all that embodies the octopus is also how I see our new network, which I am looking forward to: all the more so as communications manager and owner of MEER-SEEN Wassersport. Sailors love Greece, from instinct rather than consciousness. But after we, as communications agency brandung3, lent our practical support for this country to gain a foothold at the International Green Week in Berlin for the first time after ten years, it became more than just an instinctive affection. This is what makes it so exciting for me personally to be part of the creative network that is OCTOPUS GARDEN: from out of Berlin is growing this commitment to the south-eastern European metropolis, and to the Thessaloniki seaside.” – Steffen Boettcher

“Octopuses travel along the ocean, collect stones and shiny objects with which they build gardens… with OCTOPUS GARDEN, a beautiful, international, creative garden is being developed and the best elements of Berlin and Thessaloniki are being brought together. As a Thessa-Berliner I am particularly pleased to provide a new impetus to a sustainable cross-fertilisation of local creative scenes. Whoever wants to be involved something like this, has to simply join in!” – Matoula Koutsari

Matoula Koutsari, Piranha Arts:
Susanne Eiswirt, Creator Broker Owner: