Tue 26 November 2013

Notes from the Underground #25

On the 25th of November, the conference ‘Cultuur in Beeld 2013’ took place in Utrecht. deBuren was there, and presented citybooks to the visitors to the CultSpace: a mix of cultural entrepreneurs, experts, artists, teachers, policy advisers, and others active in the cultural sector. Colleague Marianne tells all about this day full of inspiring encounters.


At the beginning of 2013, the Netherlands’ Ministry of Education, Culture and Research launched an open call to participants for the annual conference Cultuur in Beeld. deBuren immediately put itself forward as an enthusiastic candidate, and was picked from many to participate in the event. We received a stand in the CultSpace, a kind of marketplace for swapping ideas. So deBuren collegue Willem Bongers-Dek and I set out for Utrecht, laden with flyers, booklets, a laptop and good cheer.

In the bustling hall, we told scores of interested visitors about all aspects of the project; letting them discover the project website there and then via the Internet. The project has already realized many wonderful things, and of course we’re keen to share it all with as many people as possible. At the same time, we envisage many ways in which to expand citybooks for the future. During the CultSpace we hope to have laid the foundations, following citybooks Utrecht, for portraying more Dutch cities in word and image. Moreover, we spoke with representatives of other cultural organizations with which we are keen to realize literary evenings around the citybooks project, similar to previous events in Eindhoven, Amersfoort, Amsterdam and Almere.


The theme this year was ‘The Power of Culture’, and the citybooks are a great example of many of the subthemes whose discussion was central to the day: ‘Culture for everybody’ (that is, citybooks are simple and freely available in various forms, to which multilingualism is of paramount importance), ‘The Enterprising Organization’ (the project is a collaboration between extremely diverse organizations, and an ongoing exchange between cultures, people and ideas), ‘The Social Power of Culture’ (in an accessible way, readers discover new cities, authors ad photographers through literature and poetry, while viewing these new discoveries through the lens of those artists), and ‘The Cultural Experiment’ (naturally, this project has been a considerable voyage of exploration for deBuren, the participating cities, and artists alike).

At the organizer’s request, participants made short videos to introduce themselves to other participants in and visitors to the conference. Watch the citybooks video below, in which Willem introduces the project in just one minute.

Alongside the CultSpace, there was an extensive programme of presentations and workshop that, by turns, Willem and I attended. It was an inspiring experience to hear speakers on recent developments in the cultural sector, to learn insiders’ tips on new media and e-culture. Willem attended the panel session on the development of talent between government minister Jet Bussemaker and young theater makers. Indeed, deBuren is always on the lookout for ways to offer opportunities to emerging artists and makers. Theater makers, writers, photographers and video artists are not only approached to participate in citybooks, but also for deBuren’s other (collaborative) projects, such as BCC, Parijs, Bookers & Hookers, BOG, Goede raad, Opkraskuit, Schrijversgevang.


(Marianne Hommersom, communication & production citybooks)





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