Research, Act & Reflect – 5 programmes selected

In October, the Creative Industries Fund NL issued the Open Call Research, Act & Reflect. The open call was aimed at grassroots platforms, collectives and organizations whose programmes contribute to a more culturally diverse and inclusive creative industry. Interest in the open call was high and ultimately 5 of the 39 proposals submitted are being supported.

11 February 2021

The Open Call Research, Act & Reflect takes place against a background of public debate and protests against systematic inequality and discrimination. The Fund observes that in recent years initiatives have emerged in the Netherlands from makers and platforms who, based on a lived experience and personal drive, address themes and question established systems that are not yet sufficiently seen and recognized within the design sector. These makers and platforms relate to design in their own unique way, and question with their practice what design is or could be. By means of this open call, the Fund aims to stimulate this kind of programme and, as a result, contribute to multiperspectivity and enrichment of the creative industry.

general impression
For many parties, it was the first time they had submitted an application to the Fund. The applicants approached the theme of the open call from a strikingly wide range of perspectives. Investigating decolonial thinking was a recurring theme in many applications, including some of the positively assessed proposals. Several proposals were also critical of the role and responsibility of institutions in the arts and culture sector. The Fund recognizes the importance of a sustainable dialogue in which organizations continue to question themselves critically about their own role and position.

The advisory committee, which consisted of Harriët Mbonjani, Hicham Khalidi and Farida Sedoc, selected five programmes. Apart from the artistic ambitions and the approach to the chosen theme, the applicants submitting these plans were particularly well able to explain where they stand as an organization or collective at the moment, and how they want to develop themselves further in the coming year by means of the subsidy:

Wiaspora Proverbs
– Bijlmer Parktheater
In the project Wiaspora Proverbs: Visual Mixtapes of Truth Simone Zeefuik and Richard Kofi will record a series of podcasts in the Bijlmer Parktheater. The term wiaspora started by Zeefuik and Kofi is a fusion of the words wi, which means 'we' in several Afro-Caribbean languages, and 'diaspora'. It sums up what is central to this series of conversations: bringing together and being Afro-Dutch makers, researchers, teachers, social workers, writers and other opinion makers. Together they will discuss the representation of the Afro-Dutch community in cultural museums and institutions, public space, popular culture and films. The discussions centre on both tangible and intangible heritage. Zeefuik and Kofi intend the project to grow into a platform for art criticism and cultural production in 2021. The programme will be developed and implemented out of the Bijlmer Parktheater.

Atelier LFMC
The interdisciplinary group of creatives LFMC is committed as a collective to an inclusive creative industry. In 2021, the collective will materialize as an organization and work towards a number of activities and presentations. In this programme, established and novice makers can develop and form themselves. Underexposed and under-represented makers can create without a filter or tone polishing, and without adapting to a dominant culture. Atelier LFMC's annual programme will consist of an online platform and offline productions. Atelier LFMC will continue to build on four pillars: community building, sustainable partnerships, radical equality including equality of opportunity, and quality and authenticity. For its annual programme, LFMC will collaborate with OSCAM, the museum platform for art, fashion, design, craftsmanship and development in Amsterdam.

Symphony of the Unheard – (A)WAKE
In (A)WAKE's annual programme, the organization will develop into a cultural institution representing the new voices of the Middle East and North Africa and its diaspora. Local communities and the universal discourse can come together here and representation, self-awareness and support are central. To achieve an equal exchange in intellect, resources and network between the Middle East and North Africa and the West, the emancipatory potential of the digital world is being explored. (A)WAKE aims to make the domain of digital culture its own by experimenting and building on representation and infrastructure. It also wants to present counter-narratives to European/American-centric ideas. In this way, (A)WAKE aims to contribute to the decolonization of design and build a long-term residency programme that contributes to professionalization, talent development and infrastructure.

DSGN-IN: Design criticism from grassroots and decolonial perspectives
– New Urban collective / The Black Archives
DSGN-IN: Design criticism from grassroots and decolonial perspectives
is an open call where designers are invited to develop innovative design critiques and methodologies from a decolonial and intersectional perspective. By scrutinizing the reproduction of social inequality, The Black Archives aims to stimulate progressive social change. The DSGN-IN project consists of two parts. The first part concerns the exhibition Facing Blackness, in which three selected designers carry out design research into colonial representation, based on the hidden history of the anti-Zwarte Piet and anti-racism movement. Based on the research, the designers will create new work and organize an exhibition at The Black Archives in Amsterdam Oost. The second part, Bijlmer Dossier, focuses on the area development and gentrification of Amsterdam Zuidoost. Three designers are invited to conduct design research into the mechanisms of exclusion within area development in Amsterdam Zuidoost and to develop alternative perspectives on the basis of this research. The results of this process will be brought together in a memorandum. During the research period, six designers will be supported by artistic adviser Serana Angelista and spatial adviser Wouter Pocornie (26H).

Ultimately 13 of the 39 subsidy applications considered received a positive evaluation. Because of the limited budget of € 440,000, priorities had to be set and the selection was reduced to 5. This brings the percentage of applications receiving grants to 13%. The budget for this open call originated from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science's COVID-19 support measures.