Monday, 24 March 2014

Reflections on Eindhoven

We are just reflecting on our visit to Eindhoven where we were warmly greeted by the lovely Wikke Peters, a key and now only, remaining staff member of the Drents Dorp Angels project.

Sikko, had asked us to visit people and projects to find the similarities and differences between community arts practice in the UK and Holland.

We were all struck by the beauty and simplicity of the small, especially commissioned building where we all felt at home when we walked in.  And the glamour of the host who told us that local people had been initially very sceptical of the design but now like it.

Madeline was struck by how well the 'shabby chic' style of the building might work in a post industrial space in Nottingham.

We were interested to learn of the design credentials behind the building project by Piet Hein Eek a nationally renowned designer specialising in using recycled materials.  His company is housed in one of the many empty industrial buildings that were occupied by global electronics giants Phillips, before they moved to Amsterdam in the '90's leaving the area decimated.
We were fascinated to hear how extensively housing associations engage community arts projects ostensibly to connect with the people living in their houses.  Sally, as someone with a town planning degree, who has always had people questioning the link between this and working in community arts was delighted to find a living example of just what that link is.  Julie was very interested to hear about the process of ownership of projects and how similar it was to what she considers best practice in the UK, this being at the start it is the organisation that sets the meetings and agenda and as the project progresses it is the local community that takes this over and invites the organisation to attend their meeting.  Sally was very envious of the lack of funders restrictions on how the project met its objectives.  However because the project had worked so well the housing association had decided that they had made themselves redundant and 2 out of the 3 Angels are now no longer there.  The remaining one has no idea of how much longer she will be there. The question for us is that the Angels have clearly done some amazing work with engaging the residents in determining their own future and identity, however will the parallel project of creating a designer driven 'cultural quarter' on their doorstep continue to engage them or could it create a growing divide? 

Our heated debate continues.

Madeline, City Arts
Julie, People Express
Sally, Soft Touch

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