Virtueel Platform, part of The New Institute in Rotterdam, whose mission is to “stimulate and strengthen cultural innovation by sharing knowledge about e-culture and increasing its visibility and scope startingpoint if you want to explore and work together with innovative media art organisations in The Netherlands”, published its final Guide the last December 2012.
“The New Explorers Guide to Dutch Digital Culture” offers an overview of the mayor players in the field of digital art and culture in the Netherlands. With over 150 organisations, ranging from artists’ communities to gaming studios, this guide offers an excellent starting point for making new connections. Any of these organisations can become a possible gateway into the Dutch vibrant digital culture. “The new explorers guide to Digital Culture” is also available as free publication that you can download here.
We at Digicult, consider such a publication a perfect example of innovation tool (on the border of culture, art and technology) for a country in this era of economic depression and cuts to culture. Something that Italy would need and that Digicult highlighted, starting a mapping and reflection process during the last meeting organized for the “Che Fare” fund for culture (http://www.che-fare.com/).
As Floor van Spaendonck, director of Virtueel Platform, writes in the introduction: “This guide offers a clear overview of the major players in the field of digital art and culture in the Netherlands. It combines three existing lists into one concise index, with the goal of making them more accessible. With over 150 organisations, ranging from artists’ communities to triple-A gaming studios, this guide offers an excellent starting point for making new connections. Any of these organisations can become your possible gateway into our vibrant digital culture.”
This publication is impressive: in less than 200 pages the reader has a complete overview of what’s going on in the Netherlands concerning New Media and Digital Art. Not only media labs, game companies, media festivals, education labs, business services, but also communities and collectives, fab labs, hacker spaces, youth labs and so on, are described in the book. The authors dedicated two pages to each organization, completed with pictures, a description of the activities they organize, and precise data, such as target audience or number of visitors each year.
Since fundraising has a vital role in the arts, they dedicated a final section to Dutch digital culture institutions that can help to find funding, residencies and other form of support you may need. From Limburg to Friesland, almost every region has at least one organization; festivals are taking place at any time of the year. If you are working in this field, or you are simply an enthusiast of digital culture, the Netherlands is the right place to be!
However, we need to keep in mind that also in this country the effects of global economic crisis have forced the conservative-led government to decide for budget cuts and financial reorganization of the cultural sector. As a result, many art organizations couldn’t receive grants this year, and they were forced to stop their activities.
The situation is well described by Nina Siegal in a recent article published by The New York Times, titled “Dutch Arts Scene Is Under Siege” where Ann Demeester, director of De Appel art center, describes almost an apocalyptic scenario. Indeed, she declares that: ‘The most general effect across different disciplines is that it will really become much more difficult for young artists — whether they’re theatre makers or visual artists — to work professionally. What is disappearing are the intermediary institutions. The big institutions will survive and the very small organizations are there, but the talent development or post-graduate institutions are disappearing, and those organizations are the bridge for artists into the professional world’.
So, what can artists and non-profit institution can do when money is not enough for everybody? The general idea is to create sharing networks and try to work as collaborative as possible, following the advices suggested from this guide and connect to each other to face the current crisis and find other ways to produce art, alternative to institutional funds and helps.
To conclude with the words of Floor van Spaendock: “In today’s world, creativity knows no borders. People are mobile and visit other cultures to find local expertise, new angles and ways of enriching creative processes. […] A solid and sustainable digital infrastructure is in place and the digital landscape is characterised by the large amount of rather small but sustainable media-organisations with both a very flexible attitude and a wide-reaching research agenda. […] With this guide, they are all but an email away”.
Editors: Michel Langendijk and Tijmen Schep
Copy-editing and image editing: Twan Eikelenboom and Stefan Schoorl
Translation NL-UK: Michael Meert / Art. English
Design: Wvdv / www.studiowvdv.nl