The Art & Society programme, runway for up-and-coming AHK talent on the Marineterrein

At the end of 2020, the first participants of the Art & Society postgraduate honors programme started in the AHK Culture Club on the Marineterrein. Seven recently graduated AHK students will be given the opportunity to start their own transdisciplinary manufacturing practice in a pilot edition in the coming months. The Art & Society programme was developed by Denise Harleman and Matthijs ten Berge, co-founder of the AHK Culture Club.

It was a widely supported wish within the Amsterdam School of the Arts to be able to guide AHK students who work beyond the boundaries of their own discipline for some time after graduation. After all, the start of a transdisciplinary manufacturing practice brings extra challenges, but at the same time also offers many opportunities. For the new makers, who increase the chance of building up a financially healthy practice by looking beyond the boundaries of disciplines and sectors and by committing themselves to questions that arise in society. But also for the AHK, which can learn from this. The Art & Society programme offers selected recent graduates from all academies of the AHK the extra opportunity to develop further in nine months. They are given the opportunity to build up a network, work together on issues that they want to address in their practice and share their knowledge as part-time lecturers directly with the AHK academy.

Beyond the boundaries of your own discipline
"With the Art & Society programme, we want to strengthen the power of starting makers and guide them in developing the knowledge and insights that are necessary for setting up a sustainable work practice," says Denise Harleman. Whether their period in the programme leads to a new project, financing or a specific business form, they are completely free to do so. The programme is a kind of lab in which participants investigate how they can facilitate and shape their own needs and expand their network. In doing so, the participants look beyond the boundaries of their own discipline and make use of various techniques, such as VR or AI.

With external professionals
The Art & Society programme is divided into thematic sprints of four days that are largely organized by the participants themselves. These take place once every six weeks and offer space to deepen knowledge together with external professionals from the various fields. Between the sprints, the participants work on their own research questions and thus build their own practice.

A new language
When designing the programme, it became clear that although it is possible to learn from start-up programmes and locations of other knowledge institutions, such as Startup Village or the municipal programme Startup Amsterdam, these cannot be taken over one on one. “The Art & Society programme is much more about finding a common language,” adds Matthijs ten Berge. “A language in which the value of art and culture is not simply expressed in terms of financial returns, but where the social impact and earning capacity are considered much more broadly.

Change processes based on art
As a teacher in the master Art Education, the master DAS creative producing and the shortened theater teacher training at the Academy of Theater and Dance, Denise Harleman has a broad view of what is going on within the AHK. Harleman used these insights in the design of the Art & Society programme, working closely with colleague Anouk Rutten. “I am interested in change processes based on art and the influence that work - if properly positioned - can have on important social transitions. From my experience as a teacher and creative producer, I stimulate the participants to think about this and to take concrete steps, ”Harleman explains.

AHK Culture Club
The Art & Society programme takes place in the Culture Club on the Marineterrein. Matthijs ten Berge was commissioned last year to develop this location, located in shed 27-K. Within a few months, a space was created, based on a design by the La Bolleur collective, trained at the Design Academy, where AHK students, teachers and researchers feel at home. The Culture Club offers flexible workplaces and a club stage where results of collaborations with parties on the Marineterrein and beyond are shown and streamed live and where new projects are started.

The Culture Club was also developed with the wishes of the starters within the Art & Society programme in mind. "" How do we turn this high, empty warehouse into an inspiring space where starting makers can meet, test their work, exchange ideas and collaborate interdisciplinary with other artists and designers? And how can we use the layout of the space - where reuse of materials plays an important role - to increase the chance that our AHK alumni will be in the spotlight and expand their network? ", Says Matthijs ten Berge.

Test area for art and culture
The Marineterrein offers the participants in the Art & Society programme an excellent opportunity to connect with social issues that are sometimes literally there for the taking, and they also have the opportunity to collaborate with neighbors on the site.

Future dreams
At the start of the Art & Society programme, the first question to the participants was to visualize their future dream; "What will your practice look like in 15 years' time and what conditions must be in place to be successful and what mindset do you need?" "This picture was clear for some, but less for others. “Even more important than new, concrete projects, the result of the programme must be this thought process,” say Harleman and Ten Berge. Their dream for the future is to use the Art & Society programme in the AHK Culture Club to create a place where team after team, year after year, work is done on a culture where starting makers can successfully shape their own interdisciplinary practice themselves. Ama van Dantzig, Marleen Stikker and Martin Koolhoven were the speakers of the first two sprints. The motivation is high and the degree to which the group of alumni from all six AHK academies takes responsibility in this pilot phase is special.

Matthijs ten Berge was director of the Amsterdam Creative Industries Network (now COECI) for seven years, the Center of Expertise for creative industry and digital technology in which the AHK collaborates with the HvA and the Rietveld Academy, among others. He previously conceived and developed urban education and knowledge platforms such as the Knowledge Mile and Campus Amsterdam. He also worked as a film producer and lighting designer for which he was awarded several times with a Dutch Design Award and a nomination for a Golden Palm for best short film. In addition to his work for the AHK Culture Club and the Art & Society programme, he works on behalf of the Executive Board on the plans of the AHK on the Marineterrein.

Denise Harleman is in addition to her role as developer of the Art & Society programme, affiliated with the AHK as a teacher at the master's in Art Education, the master's DAS Creative Producing and a number of bachelor's programmes at the Academy of Theater and Dance. Previously, Harleman was, among other things, business director at theater company Zina van Adelheid Roosen. Fascinated by the power of art in transition processes and the need for new forms of exchange of views, she takes initiatives herself from her company FUTURABILITY, including Collective Capital, an experiment of a basic income financed by citizens.

More about the Art & Society programme