Coming back from a short visit to Madrid, I found a two pages letter from the director of Stroom, Arno van Roosmalen. What a relief! I appreciate his effort to make me understand what Stroom is there for. Slaloming through the words explaining that Stroom is an independent arts center assigned by the city of The Hague to manage the art matters of the city; making clear that artists are recognised or un-recognised as professionals according to criteria that have to do with public achievements, namely sales, subsidies, interviews; and making more than clear that if you work outside the clique, and go ahead to organise your own projects involving other artists, it does not count as involvement in the arts, it is rather for amateurs and hobbyists. In brief, indie can not exist in The Hague. The more he wrote, the more I realised I really have nothing to do with them. Their values are good for “yes master” artists. The only problem remains, and on that Mr. van Roosmalen had nothing to say, that Stroom is a monopoly. Artists outside stroom cannnot rent a municipal low cost atelier, cannot get support for their exhibitions, can hardly participate in stroom subsidised group exhibitions, etc. That is where my anger focuses; otherwise, of course a stichting can hire and fire as it wishes. I will continue picketing but light hearted from now on. Next one to bother is the ‘cultuurwethouder’ of The Hague.
The unimportance of Stroom stroke me already in the airplane. And then a real city bathed us in sounds of liveliness and struggle/fun (yes, simultaneously). What we saw in Madrid was so uplifting! You know, the big masters are hanged in the museums like eternal martyrs, prickling the people to bring out their best and even more reminding the artists that the goal is still there. Any aim, any comparison and any lesson to be learned stands there. The more you see the more you understand.
Thank you Madrid; once again you filled my lungs with the full air of the city and un-dusted me from the provincialism that sticks on my clothes together with the dampness of The Hague.