For this year, SAMA's offer during WeMakeThe.City International Festival can be described as being part of the Heroes&Friends project, organising our own discussion panel on VR as a tool of heritage preservation, hosting Johanna de Haan's poetry at our HQ, and conducting 2 free tours over the weekend.
At the end, the most interesting experience for our team was "Heroes of Amsterdam" program.
Having worked in partnership with Amsterdam Impact Hub – Heroes & Friends since January 2019 to develop one of our first self-made Virtual Reality capsules, Street Art Museum Amsterdam finally had the opportunity on June 20th to show our efforts off to a group of peers at We Make the City Festival 2019, who were also selected through rigorous scrutiny to receive Impact Hub’s support. The whole SAMA team attended, taking the opportunity to watch VR capsules that others created, see a hilarious stand-up comedy set that provoked critical reflection on a range of intersectional issues, and learn about the science of creating focus and flow from Dutch psychologist, lecturer and coach, Frank Heckman. Most importantly, we got to try some locally-produced vegan kimchi, jackfruit kebab and plant-based cheese. And receive a lot of positive encouragement from everybody who watched our VR movie.
Heckman, who coached the Dutch Olympic team at the 2004 Athens Olympics and pioneered the concept of mental conditioning in Olympic training, had enormous insights to offer a room full of self-guiding, self-taught social innovators. Based around the Bildungsroman narrative structure found in the mythology of cultures around the world (and in modern pop culture, for example in Star Wars), Heckman has been able to apply “the hero’s journey” to the real-life challenges, interpersonal and cultural systems which are intrinsically a part of the struggle in achieving any objective, whether personal development, establishing a business, or keeping a grassroots community museum afloat. As Heckman went through his presentation, it was interesting to see how it seemed as though everybody in the room could relate to his stripped-down framing of the narrative, identifying struggle, failure, the importance of community support, and recognizing personal shortcomings as a barrier to success (however we individually define it), before finding solutions to achieve it. It certainly felt familiar to the ups and downs SAMA has gone through.
SAMA was meant to follow the Heroes & Friends presentation with its own presentation and panel discussion on June 21st, but owing to technical issues it was postponed at the last minute.
Which isn’t necessarily the worst news.
We are happy to say that, although we had to cancel a high-visibility event during a busy cultural festival, we did it due to the limited space we were going to be provided, and the overwhelmingly positive response we received for what we had planned. Given the amount of interest we received, the festival organizers suggested that we postpone our panel for later in the year, and host the event at Pakhuis de Zwijger, where we can host a larger audience seeking to enter the discussion on new technology and innovation in the cultural sector. SAMA is happy to say that, by the time we do present our findings later this year, with more experience behind us, we will have deeper, more constructive insight and strategies to offer to a larger audience. We are very grateful to have been included in Impact Hub’s evening on June 20th, and look forward to being able to deliver a more effective panel discussion on using Virtual Reality in documentation and preservation of museum collections.
In the meantime, SAMA has begun to cataloguing its main collection, which will prepare us to begin making VR experiences around thematically-linked pieces in the collection to tell more detailed and impactful stories about each piece. SAMA will continue to release updates about its programming and the progress we’ve made so far, and as we secure details for the panel discussion, we will make them available on social media and our blog. We’d love to have you come join the conversation, but don’t miss out, because seats will fill up fast!