Laying a new foundation for arts funding

Being invited by one of the largest private art foundations in The Netherlands, the SNS REAAL Fund, we had the privilege of giving an hour long presentation of not-to-be-missed trends in the fields of the arts, technology and science, followed by a lively Q&A. For this occasion our host had invited the management and staff members from two other foundations, the VSBfonds and the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, in a much appreciated effort to start an inter-organizational exchange of ideas and expertise.

The meeting centered around one question: how can private art foundations stimulate artistic innovation and a vibrant cultural life in the Netherlands in the face of current artistic and technological developments? In our presentation we focused on the forces that shape our world, from the timeless human need for social connection and peer recognition to the unprecedented scale and speed of cultural production and distribution and the unstoppable rise of locative media and augmented reality.

Among many other urgent matters, we discussed the moral and financial implications of ‘digitally born’ art works like Aaron Koblin’s ‘Flight Patterns’ and the ‘commercial creativity’ in projects like Olafur Eliasson’s concept car for BMW. How can foundations avoid a conflict of interest by funding private corporations, without missing out on artistic breakthroughs within the commercial sector? And how can needy artists and cultural institutions benefit from innovative and lucrative consumer-led business models like NIKEiD, an online store for customized Nike-merchandise, and Sellaband, a crowd- or fan-funding website for aspiring musicians?

Our audience assured us that most of these issues had not escaped their attention. Interdisciplinary art projects and public-private partnerships have become very common in recent years. SNS REAAL Fund has supported Streetlab, a platform and festival for young creatives, providing a gateway to (inter)national markets and a professional career. And in Amsterdam, Sellaband and the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts (AFK) announced that they will develop a fan-funding platform for art projects in the near future.

However, a number of challenges still need to be addressed by both public and private art foundations:

  1. Accessibility: opening up the application process to more people by introducing scouts, outreach programs and a (more) search- and user-oriented website that can be navigated easily and that combines prescribed instructions with user generated folksonomies (tagging).
  2. Transparency: using off- and online tools to inform the public on relevant developments and data, like the number of submitted, granted and refused applications or the output of funded projects in terms of visitor numbers or media coverage etc. with the real-time Dashboard of the Indianapolis Museum of Art as an inspiring example.
  3. Knowledge sharing: integrating and disclosing information that will help improve the quality of applications, such as matching tools for applicants that are looking for collaborators, application forms that leave room for comments and tips for future users, and an online market for trade in skills, money and connections.

Given the (other) priorities and limited capacity of these private foundations, we suggested that they should create a new business unit or satellite organization that could function as an independent think tank and advanced R&D lab and certainly would accelerate new developments. There are various instructive examples of organizations that have set up an experimental counterpart, both individually like OMA‘s AMO, Benetton‘s Fabrica and Google Labs, or collectively with the n8‘s play- and fruitful collaboration with the museums in Amsterdam as as a good case in point.

We will continue our conversation with SNS REAAL Fund and we invite everyone with an interest in arts funding (intellectually and/or money-wise) to provide us with new and fresh ideas. In the meantime you can see our travels around the world in 80 slides:

View more presentations from Non-fiction.

By Michiel — Posted January 26, 2010 — 11,064 Comments

Non-fiction in 2009 (and we’ve only just begun..)

It has been an exciting first year (in beta) for us at Non-fiction, with projects ranging from social media strategies for the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ and Tropenmuseum Junior, via new concepts for an illustrious canal house ánd an ancient castle to a range of workshops in a.o. Ljubljana and Zürich. Together with our friends at TrouwAmsterdam we opened the temporary project space ‘De Verdieping‘, hosting a wide range of cultural and social events. The year ended with a cover story in Time Out magazine, giving our co-created vision of Amsterdam in 2020. The start of the next decade promises to be even more innovative, collaborative and challenging..

So what happened in 2009?

At the beginning of the year we worked with the renowned Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, the Concerthall of the 21st Century, helping the organization with their public strategy, new media development and visual identity.

In the months leading up to the summer we organized Aura: an exhibition and a series of events in the historic premises of Castrum Peregrini Foundation, where in WWII young German Jews survived in hiding.

Since March we are responsible for the artistic direction and strategic development of a cultural project space, De Verdieping, in the basement of the Berlin-style club and restaurant TrouwAmsterdam, resulting in a series of lively public discussions, art and architecture exhibitions, experimental performances and film nights in collaboration with half the city (and soon the world).

Around the summer working with the Tropenmuseum Junior (TMJ) in Amsterdam to devise a social strategy for their new exhibition ‘Qi of China‘ and an online game that enables children in the age of 6 – 13 to experience a number of key cultural values in Chinese culture.

Halfway through the year Non-fiction relocated its office from the Scheepvaartmuseum (National Maritime Museum) to the former laboratory of the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage, right in the cultural heart of Amsterdam overlooking Museumplein (Museumsquare).

in July 2009 Non-fiction’s Juha van ‘t Zelfde co-founded VURB, together with Ben Cerveny, design strategist and data visualization theorist and in collaboration with James Burke (RoomwareNarb). VURB is a European framework for policy and design research concerning urban computational systems.

Next spring and summer we will be organizing several projects at Duivenvoorde Castle, a stately museum-mansion and unique parkland (see below) near the city of The Hague. We received a request from the organization to make a contribution to their yearlong celebration of the museum’s 50th anniversary in 2010.

In the past four years, we have been organizing experimental music events at Bimhuis, Melkweg, De Verdieping and TrouwAmsterdam. These nights are organized under our electronic music label Viral Radio, which has a regular show on Dutch public network VPRO‘s 3voor12.

In december we visited lovely Ljubljana to give a presentation and a series of workshops for the Access to Contemporary Art Conservation conference, organized by the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage in collaboration with Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid and kindly hosted by the Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana.

Non-fiction’s Juha participated an intimate workshop in Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in his role as editor of Soundmuseum. ‘Audio Art on the Radio’ was organized by the Institute for Contemporary Arts Research of the Zurich University of the Arts, and focused on the question how open, interactive and democratic radio should be?

Recently the Amsterdam branch of the international city periodical Time Out invited us to come up with a vision of the city in the year 2020, so we decided to provide them with a collaborative urban visions by collecting dozens of thought-provoking Twitter-style messages from our friends and heroes from around the world.  The magazine has just hit the stores, so check it out or contact us if you wish to receive a copy!

Wow, that’s a lot..

And we even forgot to tell you about Curating the City, our night long interview series with museum professionals and artists about ‘the museum in the city and the city as museum’ during the annual Museumnight (n8), and about our latest publications and our friends, new and old, and about the birth of Michiel’s daughter and Juha’s hobbies.

And what are our plans for 2010?

Now the ‘noughties’ make way for a brand new decade, Non-fiction is gearing up for yet another year of recession-defying activities and  intelligent pragmatism. We will continu our exploration of the pro’s and con’s of co-creation, social media, urban interventions, guerilla gardening, data visualization, public accessibility, augmented reality, ubiquitous museums and other innovative ideas that will fundamentally change our lives.

And we will jumpstart the new year with presentations and proposals for such diverse organizations as the local municipality, SNS REAAL Foundation, Binger Filmlab, the Zuidas, PICNIC, ICN, Paradiso, Duivenvoorde and ING. And we are happy to receive more inquiries and invitations, since we can always outsource some of our activities to our man in India.

We will keep you updated on our website and on Facebook and Twitter (and here and here), but please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you are looking for a stimulating conversation, a good laugh or a place to meet kindred spirits.

Please join us for the opening of the new year in De Verdieping with a special sound performance by our dear friend and multi-instrumentalist Machinefabriek on Wednesday 6 January at 8 pm. And later that month, on Thursday 28 January at 8 pm we are hosting the ’2020 vision’ event at De Verdieping in collaboration with Time Out Amsterdam, showcasing different perspectives on the future of Amsterdam by KesselsKramer, LAgroup, Concrete, Benthem Crouwel and… Non-fiction.

Drive and shoot straight on New Year’s Eve!


By Michiel — Posted December 31, 2009 — 9,076 Comments

De Verdieping starts 2010 with Machinefabriek

Machinefabriek live at Aura in Castrum Peregrini (photo: Jelle Spanjaard)

On a Thursday night in September in 2006, multi-instrumentalist Rutger Zuydervelt performed under his moniker Machinefabriek on the 700th birthday at the Oude Kerk, the oldest building of Amsterdam that is located in the heart of the Red Light District. It was a night I organised when I was still working at the n8 foundation, the collaborative museum platform that works for the Amsterdam museums. This was the beginning of an ongoing love affair with one of the Netherlands’ most productive and imaginative young composers and musicians. Since this concert we have worked together numerous times at the Bimhuis, Lantaren/Venster, Castrum Peregrini, and once even in my appartment in Amsterdam, together with Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard. Machinefabriek, a natural improviser who never performs the same work twice, and has an Olympic amount of releases and bootlegs swerving around. Even when I write, Michiel is listening to his music (and while you are peeking at his account, have a look where Machinefabriek stands in my top artists list).

So it should not come as a surprise when we announce that the first artist we have asked to perform in 2010 is our dear friend Machinefabriek. We will celebrate the opening of the new year in De Verdieping with a special performance on Wednesday 6 January at 8 pm. We will also celebrate the proud fact that we have been granted a generous 2-year financial support from the Amsterdam Art Fund to upgrade the organisation and become a more professional cultural institution. The support enables us to notch up our activities and broaden our reach. We are delighted about this and look forward to inviting you to more adventurous programmes on the Wibautstraat in 2010.

We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday and toasting on the new decade. In the mean time, follow De Verdieping on Facebook and Twitter. Drive and shoot straight on New Year’s Eve.

By Juha — Posted December 30, 2009 — 2,923 Comments