Our History

Founded in 2007 by Jørgen Callesen and Christian van Schijndel, Warehouse9 began in a 80 m2 derelict room in a historic stable building in the former Meatpacking district of Copenhagen. Since then the venue has not only grown in size, but Warehouse9 has also grown to become the longest-running queer performance venue in the region – a unique organisation that has made an unparalleled mark on the inclusion and writing of queer histories in the arts in Denmark. From our international performance festival IPAF to our annual queer Christmas cabaret, to supporting community initiatives such as Queer Cut, Warehouse9 has always championed artists, programmes and initiatives that challenge and re-imagine what matters artistically, socially and culturally.

The history of Warehouse9 has its roots in the queer movement Dunst. Founded in 2002, Dunst was a social movement and an artistic project that used performance practices to create a social counter-culture all over Europe. In 2006, Dunst (with Jørgen Callesen as an integral figure) created the first major international queer festival in Denmark in collaboration with the international organisation Queeruption and many other forces from the emerging European queer activist scene. The festival involved creating alternative queer spaces and included established artists such as Wolfgang Tillmans and Elmgreen & Dragset. The festival created a rare atmosphere and platform that gathered and celebrated an expanse of queer voices and stories. When the festival was over, Jørgen Callesen saw an opportunity in an abandoned room in the pre-gentrified Meatpacking district in Copenhagen. The 80 m2 derelict space became the beginning of the queer performance venue Warehouse9. Christian van Schijindel’s building and construction knowledge became central in readying the venue for use and has been essential to its continuous development.

In its beginning years, Warehouse9’s success was made possible by its founders’ radical spirit, counterculture values, activist connections and DIY methodologies. At the same time, we have pushed back against dominant ideas of what constitutes legitimate arts and culture to broaden the types of projects acknowledged as having value in society. Since its founding, Warehouse9 has had challenging moments with Copenhagen’s city establishments and mainstream art circles – famously being named a “bastard” project by project managers in the city council’s arts & leisure department. As a project arising from queer counterculture, our journey toward recognition as a legitimate performance venue by the authorities has not been without difficulties. 

In 2009 a special grant from The Danish Arts Foundation with a focus on art and urban development made it possible to unequivocally establish Warehouse9 as a professionally recognised performance venue. During this grant period (2009 – 2011), we were, for the first time, able to support artists and international exchange by curating a year round programme of local and international artists. In this period the artistic programme was curated in consultation with an artistic board consisting of Danish artists Erik Pold, Stuart Lynch, Gritt-Uldall-Jessen and Molly Haslund.

In the years following 2011, Warehouse9 found itself again without consistent funding to cover running costs and a curated programme, and survived through precarious labour and project-to-project funding — a pattern that, unfortunately, is all too familiar for the independent art sector. 

In 2013, Emma Castro Møller (a London live art transplant) joined Warehouse9 and has since played an instrumental role in developing our artistic development initiatives, curated programmes, international collaborations and the economic stability of the venue.

In 2014, after years of economic uncertainty, Copenhagen City council granted Warehouse9 bespoke funding to sustain our rent, supporting us as a performance venue with a queer artistic and community profile. This recognition from the council was a considerable achievement; the state was acknowledging the vital importance of queer places in the city.

After spending 10 years under unstable rental conditions, and nearly losing the lease in 2016, the building was eventually secured in 2017 when Warehouse9 signed a direct contract with the Copenhagen City Property department and took over operational responsibility of the building. This ensured that we would not be evicted with short notice.

In 2018 the Danish Arts Foundation’s committee for performing arts supported us with a grant towards ongoing running costs, promoting the stability and longevity of Warehouse9 as a state recognised performance venue. With this support, Warehouse9 was finally (after over a decade) in a position to work less precariously and ensure three part-time positions for our core team. In 2020 we succeeded renewing the grant period until 2023. 

Despite a history of fluctuating structural stability, Warehouse9 has persevered and paved the way to become a key voice in the local arts, culture and political landscape. To date we offer a year-round programme of queer performance and community events in the same local area and building where it all began.

Throughout our unique and challenging history, Warehouse9 has consistently been committed to the creation, support and development of work by artists from queer and feminist communities, and has facilitated incredibly vital projects. The International Performance Art Festival (today known by its abbreviation IPAF) has been a constant in Warehouse9’s programming since its inception in 2008. And, throughout the years, Warehouse9 has also supported the development of new work, exhibitions and concerts as well as longer running initiatives combining clubbing, performance and community events.

Today, Warehouse9 supports queer artists in multifaceted ways (through residencies, workshops, commissions, dialogues, etc,.) and we are continually thinking of new ways to critically support artists and artsworkers from the queer community.

Warehouse9 enters its 14th year with exciting opportunities and notable changes on the horizon.