The rapidly changing and growing city requires a flexible approach to existing works of art and a strong strategy for works of art yet to be realized. The concern for the quality of public space, and the art that is given a place in it, is not only tested by the Stadscuratorium on the basis of aesthetic criteria. Above all, the quality of the works of art in the public domain is assessed on the basis of the effect the works have on the ecology of a place or area. Who does the work of art address, to whom does it appeal, what stories does it tell and what kind of experiences does it evoke?
On our agenda
The public space of Amsterdam isn’t a site that is anchored and demarcated, but an area that remains open, changes character continuously and allows all kinds of uses. This dynamics require involvement and a constant questioning attitude. In the view od the Stadscuratorium, the public space should not be filled in, but rather stretched. The public domain is also a place for experiment, where Stadscuratorium Amsterdam functions as a catalyst for new forms of commissioning and artistic expression. By generating challenging assignments, space is created for experimentation, which offers new opportunities for both artists and their practice.
There’s a lot of expertise on art in the public space in the city. Stadscuratorium aligns its views and policies with existing cultural networks of artists, mediators, trailblazers, officials, designers and residents dedicated to art in the public space. Together, we work on art in the city at both the district level and the municipal policy level. The Stadscuratorium’s activities are in line with relevant strategic policy agendas such as the Environmental Vision and its role is supportive rather than directive. The ideal is a city in which the public space can be questioned time and again, by artists in practice, by citizens in daily life, by thinkers with ideas and by officials with an open mind. In all of these cases, the Stadscuratorium functions as a central point of contact.
Stadscuratorium Amsterdam believes being committed to the city is of the utmost importance and makes every effort to create optimal collaborations. It monitors the parties involved in projects in the public space to make certain that agreements about process, content and financing with major players such as housing associations, developers and the (port) industry are made on time. In addition, Stadscuratorium ensures that there is room and attention for art projects throughout development trajectories. All too often, the context in which artists are expected to create their work are laid down without consultation with experts, leaving them too little room for artistic experimentation or innovation. To prevent this, the Stadscuratorium supports processes in which there is sufficient time and space for research and in which art projects can be realized that fit in with the ecology of a location.
The management and preservation of existing works are crucial to the public character, atmosphere and overall quality of the public space. Management involves more than the maintenance of works of art. Management also means sharing the care and keeping works alive spiritually, for example by providing good explanations. Stadscuratorium also labours for existing works in semi-public locations: works of art that, although the city does not own them, are of image-defining value to Amsterdam. Urban renewal can threaten the city’s long tradition of building-related art, either by making such art invisible or by even removing it. Cities are constantly changing, but the preservation of their visual memories is important, too. This can be done by taking care of works of art that have played an important role in the development of the city. If a work of art cannot stay in its existing location, the Stadscuratorium will investigate possibilities to have it placed elsewhere.
Today, works of art in the public space are often expected to bridge differences and provide narratives – but how they are supposed to do this remains unclear. Works of art that focus too emphatically on the interests or tastes of a particular demography exclude other demographies, whereas works of art that want to please everyone are often no more than non-committal decorative pieces that offer nothing extra to the public space. Social support is an apparently simple concept that hides a complex reality. Stadscuratorium Amsterdam intends to investigate, support and test new ways to involve citizens.
What we do
Stadscuratorium provides Amsterdam’s municipal executive with solicited and unsolicited advice on art in the public space. Through its advice, the Stadscuratorium encourages the exploration of new forms of commissioning, financing and conservation and initiates new opportunities and directions for artistic expression. Stadscuratorium encourages and actively creates connections with and between artists, the city and cultural institutions. Stadscuratorium thus promotes the public character and overall quality of the city’s public space.
Its inspiration is the pursuit of a public space that is shared and not claimed, exploited or appropriated. This is why the Stadscuratorium wants to increase the commitment to and support of art projects among residents, users and financiers. The Stadscuratorium, by actively seeking to start a dialogue with the city, takes the importance of art in the public space to the next level. The Stadscuratorium intends to achieve this by organizing public programmes such as public debates, but also by initiating collaborations. It is also committed to unlocking the stories of the Amsterdam Art Collection – both online and on location. In this way, the Stadscuratorium ensures the inventory and appreciation of the existing works of art in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.
Read more about this subject in our Rules and Regulations.
Urban Dialogues (Stadsdialogen)
The Covid-19 crisis has made the organization of physical meetings impossible for everyone. This has not stopped the Stadscuratorium from entering into (alternative forms of) dialogues. In the ongoing project Urban Dialogues (Stadsdialogen), the members of Stadscuratorium talk with artists, stakeholders and mediators about striking and prominent works of art in the public space of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. In these dialogues, the hidden stories of art in the public space unfold; the Agenda of Stadscuratorium is central.Read more
Who we are
Vincent van Velsen
Annemarie de Wildt