It actually makes me feel sick and depressed

It wasn’t looking very good w.r.t. the public funding of art in Amsterdam, but now that the definite decisions have been made for the allocation money by the arts council of Amsterdam – for the next 4 years – I am suprised about my own reaction. Browsing and reading through the evaluation at I slowly begin to feel sick and depressed.

Yes I know, not getting the money should never be the end of an organisation and one should look optimistically to the future. Yes I know, not every organisation will be so lucky to get the money. That’s the way it is.

But. Consider this. I love new, adventurous music, I love the forms of electro-acoustic improvised and composed that have been developed internationally somewhere between (classical) contemporary music, electronic music, laptop music (and noise). That is according to me the foremost, most important form of music. It is featured nowhere in Amsterdam, except at DNK.

DNK will receive no money. The written advice is extremely negative. It states that DNK operates too much on its own, is incrowd and is not ambitious. I am chairman of the board of DNK and apparently our subsidy request was not good enough, as we are extremely ambituous – but in order to achieve those ambitions more money is needed, as musicians and ensembles that we’d like to invite, and are not playing anywhere in Amsterdam, cost money. We are ambitiuous and that is why we recently moved to the larger space of Smart Project Space. We’d like to feature sound art too (do exhibtions). Incrowd? Is incrowd a synonym for a steady public? Every monday an audience of 30 to 120. And DNK does collaborate with other organisations (STEIM, Conservatory Amsterdam, Sonology The Hague, N-Collective etc.) – or is ‘working too much on one’s own’ a synonym for curatorial control?

I love music II. Another place I visit regularly for concert is the renowned STEIM. STEIM will get no money.

I love new music and art. Sonic Acts will receive no money. Again the advice is very negative. Curious is that it mentions the lack of a ‘chief curator’ in the organisation (‘hoofdredacteur’), whereas this person is present: it’s Lucas van der Velden.

Again, it can happen that one’s plans are not well received, or that the committees have decided that those plans do not fit the current culture. It might not be my choice, but well, that’s the way it is.

What makes it so depressing is not only that almost all of the institutions for which I have a heart, that I visit, that I would give my money to, and/or for which I work will receive ZERO euro’s, it’s that overall the somewhat more ‘commercial’ (public friendly?) venues and initiatives do receive some money, and the more adventurous one’s don’t. We truly live in conservatives times.

Very depressing is also that a large part of what is erroneously called e-culture over here will not receive funding – though they are without doubt exactly in the centre of todays culture. I already mentioned STEIM, but also De Waag (asked for half a million) doesn’t receive anything. Mediamatic was lucky, after an initial negative advice, they will receive part of what they asked for. Phew.

The impression one gets is that 1. Amsterdam did not have enough money to fund its art. 2. Old-fashioned institutes with large buildings and organisations do get money – but receive a fair deal of criticism on their programming – which is not adventurous enough! 3. The arts council seems to be unable to allocate funding to truly contemporary culture, it tends to fund what has already a defined and safe place in culture.

Well, to be honest: 1. seems to be the most important issue.

In case you reader, say to me: “but haven’t you got a superb new building for new music?” I have to say: the programming of the big Nieuwe Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ is conservative. Nothing against a good Feldman-festival, nothing against nice mouth-harp-music, nothing against a good performance of some Nancarrow, but the current forms of (new innovative) music are not featured there. In terms of new music they have completely lost touch.

DNK fills that gap. But DNK is not funded.

Well. I am surprised that I wrote this, as I am surprised that it makes me feel sick. Of course all this does not signify the end of good art in Amsterdam, not the end of exciting new developments, not the end of laboratories where new art, technology, music is made. But this certainly does not help.

Writing this down though helps to make me feel better.

Ah well, and then the introduction to the advices reads: “Het is verheugend te constateren dat het stadsbestuur Amsterdam wil herpositioneren als een metropool van internationale allure. De stad wil zich een weg terug veroveren in de Top 5 van Europa.” [They are happy that the city wants to get back to the top 5 in Europe]. Ha, with this policy that aim will not be reached…

It’s a pity.

Ah well, let’s end on a positive note: PIPS:Lab, an artist collective that does new media arts and develops technology (they have a studio in the building where I live, Marci Panis) was lucky. They asked for 85.000, and will receive the amount they asked for. From all the advices I read, they are the only ones to get the amount they asked for.

en | April 22, 2008 | 17:56 | Comments Off on It actually makes me feel sick and depressed |


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