Published July 11, 2001
At Pósthússtræti 3, there used to be a police station. The basement there was usually known aptly as “The Basement,” and was mostly used to keep drunkards off the streets. The jail cells were said to be somewhat shorter than coffins, and only slightly wider. The suicide rate among inmates was high. The Basement these days belongs to Hitt Húsið, (The Other House), a youth cultural centre, so called because it’s supposed to be a home away from home
People can come there with their ideas and apply for grants, and among projects currently being put into practice is the theatre group Ofleikur (Overacting), wherein a director and ten actors, all around 20 years of age, put on a production and receive their wages from the City. Another acting group plays out sketches and scenes on the city streets. Other artists being employed are musicians, poets and even a group which is painting the trashcans of the downtown area according to their own designs. These artists, around 50 in all, are fully employed in these pursuits, and some of them might be starting artistic careers that could be the beginning of a lifelong occupation.
The house itself houses an information centre where you can come and be informed on employment here and abroad and get help with everything from sexual problems to how to fill out your tax forms.
In fact, they claim that everything the young person needs to know is located under the same roof, or at the very least, they will point you in the right direction. On the ground floor people can get free access to the internet (within reasonable limits, they say) between 9 and 6, and there is also a gallery where young artists can exhibit their works for free, each exhibition being shown for on average 2 weeks. On the top floor there is a concert hall, which houses concerts in the winter.
Currently there is a group touring the country on behalf of peer education, the idea being that people will be more willing to listen to people their own age telling them not to do drugs rather than their elders. Every Friday in July there is an event going on, called Föstudagsbræðingur (Friday Melt). On the 11th of July, the theme is Tjillað á Tjarnarbakkanum (Chilling by the Pond). Happenings start at 12.15 at City Hall, when Tríó Cantabile, featuring three classically trained musicians playing tunes from different periods, will perform. At 13.00 by the pond, Lúðrasveit lýðsins (the Marching Band of the Masses) and the poetry group Ljóðaleikur (Street Poetry) perform. From 15.00-17.00, there is an open record player on Ingólfstorg where anyone can try out their DJing skills. At 16.00 there is an open practice at Tjarnarbíó Theatre by Lifandi Leikhús (living theatre). Meanwhile, in the centre of town, the group Fusion performs dances from the musical Chicago. Also on offer is a classic radio station, radio Mandolin, at FM 98,3. The last Friday festival will be held on the 25th of July, and is supposed to outdo them all.