Once again, all of us at Street Art Museum Amsterdam have been floored by the richness and breadth of arts and culture thriving in Amsterdam Nieuw-West, unfortunately missed by so many Amsterdammers and visitors to the city.
On November 26th, 2019, SAMA was invited to participate in the interdisciplinary Cultuurlab hosted by Meervaart Theater, designed to bring individuals together from all fields in the arts, culture, and city management to share, connect, grow, and learn from one another. SAMA was selected as one of several venues to host and connect participants, and share our story, programming and objectives with them. Understanding that we would be hosting individuals from organizations several years ahead of SAMA in terms of development, reach, and impact – including Gemeente Amsterdam Arts & Culture, De Melkweg, AGA Lab, Podium Mozaïek and Amsterdam Kunstraad, to name a few – it was initially difficult for us to determine how to situate ourselves as equal partners and collaborators when we clearly are not. We realized, however, that SAMA remains the only initiative in Amsterdam directly committed to creating public art through grassroots partnerships, dialogue, and collaboration. We are still the only initiative employing artists from marginalized backgrounds to create art which represents the marginalized populations in Amsterdam Nieuw-West in their neighbourhoods – the very individuals in Amsterdam who may feel most excluded from the cultural mainstream or who may be unable to afford admission to traditional museums. We are the only true, authentic street art initiative in the city, with graffiti’s original ethics informing our practice as learned through consultants still living them, while being one of the only initiatives in the world approaching graffiti and street art as a research center investigating these art forms as distinct movements worthy of study in contemporary art.
Thus, “teaching,” per se, was clearly not the correct angle to take on the day, but rather striving to make the most of an opportunity to collaborate and find ways to support one another. It is our hope that by building connections with other cultural initiatives, SAMA will be able to continue growing its network to expand our local impact and make greater contributions to the city of Amsterdam’s cultural heritage through ongoing study of contemporary guerilla art movements. Likewise, we hope that efforts such as our dedication to grassroots inclusion and collaboration, and finding sustainable solutions to cultural preservation such as using virtual reality to do so, may be acknowledged and adopted by others.
Following our afternoon of hosting at SAMA headquarters, the team joined the entire Cultuurlab group at Meervaart theater to participate and speak at the cultuurtafel, where our photos of Bastardilla’s “Memories” and Pez and Danny Recall’s collaboration, “Glory” were projected as the backdrop to the event. This was an incredibly valuable opportunity for us to reach an audience beyond those who attended the sessions at SAMA’s office, and likewise, to meet, connect with, and learn from them. During the borrel and mingle after the cultuurtafel, we showed off our vr capsules, and were lucky enough to make friends with Podium Mozaïek and the Stedelijk museum, and to reconnect with our old friends at Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunst.
What was initially a somewhat uncertain day certainly ended on a positive footing with new relationships beginning to be formed, and old ones strengthened. As a non-profit grassroots cultural organization, furthermore, we are extremely excited to continue building new connections with new players in other artistic disciplines besides the visual arts. We look forward to adopting and implementing the new knowledge we’ve picked up as we can, and pursuing new connections we’ve made to continue expanding the work we’re doing. And, of course, we can’t wait to keep you updated about new things to come, so be sure to follow this blog and our Instagram page to stay up-to-date!
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