New year, new direction

Before I tell you about the new direction of SAMA, let me quickly introduce myself.

I’m a 25-year old kid from rural Zeeland. I studied international media & entertainment management in Breda, where I fell in love with counter-cultures. Breda is the conservative neoliberal powerhouse of the Netherlands, which leaves little space for any ideas outside of the ordinary. To me, it turned the city into a one-dimensional party for lovers of commercial house and overeating, as long as you’re white. It could not get more boring. I went looking for a different side of the city, and what I found was astonishing. Pushed out by the city, a community of people had been organizing raves in the forests surrounding the city. I felt like I could breathe again every time I could go on a GPS treasure hunt for a night of music with friends. From this community spawned many other social and cultural initiatives where a broad spectrum of scenes found a home to develop. Just as I found a space to breathe and explore there, many have before and many will. This experience has taught me the value of having vibrant, inclusive, and diverse cultural scenes in a city.


As part of my bachelor studies, I worked on a programme ‘Heroes of Amsterdam’ where we would teach 17 startups the skills to make their cause heard through VR storytelling, using minimal equipment and experience. This is where I met the SAMA team and got introduced to Anna. SAMA produced their first VR experience there in the quest to find new ways to preserve their collection. In the years since, new VR experiments have already led to the preservation of artworks that would’ve otherwise been lost to history.

SAMA is special to me because it represents many of the lessons I learned during my time in Breda. Expression of a social scene through art is essential to communities, and SAMA has a role to play here in Amsterdam. Being literally embedded in the Nieuw-West community, we have the opportunity to be the platform where young people learn to develop and express their culture through art. In late 2020, I came back to work with SAMA on how we can make this dream a reality in the near future.


In the past, SAMA has spent a tremendous amount of effort to prove the value of street art to the people and the municipality of Amsterdam. Today, street art is a market, the form has become more accepted, institutionalised and commercial. I think it is fair to say we have reached our goal in this respect. We also acknowledge that there is still a lot of work to do. Let’s talk about what that means for SAMA.


When looking at the future, we’re seeing three distinct themes where we can be of real value.


Heritage

Throughout our 8,5 years of art productions, we’ve seen many artworks lost forever due to the destruction of buildings and many fading away in a state of deterioration. The collection that still exists now, tells an important story in the development of Amsterdam Nieuw-West, and we feel it is essential to preserve it. We’re exploring different ways to create an engaging archive, thus preserving the collection digitally, so future generations have a chance to learn about the humble beginnings of Amsterdam Street Art.


Community

Over the years we have acquired experience in running social programmes for kids and teens in stigmatised neighbourhoods. With this, we facilitate cultural education, the expression and development of young cultural scenes, and their career perspective. We are moving from individual workshops to long-term professional education programmes for kids and teens in Amsterdam. We are exploring other ways to increase our impact here as well.


Inclusion

Diversity and inclusivity in art is an age-old issue, we’re not about to solve this today. However, we think our position in the stigmatised community of Nieuw-West gives us the opportunity to advocate for and support the inclusion of minorities in the art scene of Amsterdam.

We’re working on an impact strategy with our stakeholders to set clear measurable goals around these three themes. This will help us stay on course and communicate our value more clearly. I’m very excited to share more on this soon!

by Lennart Sikkema

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