RIGHTABOUTNOW - International Conference
10th October 2012, MC Theater (Amsterdam, NL)

In just a few decades, postwar urban Europe has gone from being relatively homogenous to being a multi-ethnic and multicultural society. It seems that Europe’s cultural community is struggling to come to terms with this new reality.

What are the consequences of these tensions for young and emerging artists in present-day Europe? What are the global perspectives on Europe’s changing identity? And how do these tensions shape the context in which Art is created and consumed in Europe and beyond?

MC Theater is an Amsterdam – based theater venue and workshop that has been at the forefront of developments in multicultural theater in the Netherlands for the past thirty years. Being one of very few cultural venues in Amsterdam with an explicit objective to represent the diversity of the multi-ethnic and multicultural city, MC appreciates the necessity and urgency to reflect on and address the tensions described above, and especially their implications for the Arts. These issues have been much debated in recent years, however they are rarely if ever addressed from an artists point of view. By making artists and people directly involved in art production our keynote speakers, we want to shift the impetus of the discussion from social policies and crisis management towards a real discussion on Europe’s identity today.

The conference will take place on Wednesday October 10th 2012 from 12.00 till 18.30 (excluding the shows) at the MC Theater in Amsterdam.

The conference will include speeches from key-players and performers from various artistic and cultural backgrounds, a theme session, showcases from specially selected MC artists, exhibition and a musical program in collaboration with Toko MC .

Two years ago the Dutch government completely rehauled the funding system for the arts. The focus has shifted from stimulating artistic diversity to protecting Dutch heritage. The fall out from this paradigm shift is making itself felt right now.

Theaters and production companies that focused on new work and emerging artists are closing, cultural outreach programmes for youth in Hollands major cities are shutting down. Culturally diverse institutions and programmes are being terminated. Cultural diversity has completely disappeared from government policy documents concerning the Arts. However, it holds centre stage in all political debates and policy papers dealing with crime and urban renewal.

Last year MC theater decided not to wait for a yay or nay from the government funding institutions, but to opt out of the arts funding system all together. Up until January 1st 2013 we are a nationally funded production company that also runs a theatre venue. As of the first of January 2013 we will be a venue for live time based arts that also supports and develops theatre projects and cultural events. We set up a business plan that essentially gives us three years to make the transition from a fully funded organization to one that does not depend on national or municipal funds for its survival. Over the last year we have initiated a series of requests and procedures in order to free us from the tutelage of the funding bodies for the arts, allowing us to make our exit next year. The conditions in which we make the exit, and the consequences for our crew and organization depends on the outcome of these requests. Last week the most important response came in: the city of Amsterdam confirmed that they are going to support our exit. However, we have to downsize our organization. This has immediate consequences for our activities on the short term and the MC Conference is one of them. We have decided to concentrate on one single day instead of spreading it out over two. This allows us both to cut costs as well as to reduce the registration fee for all delegates.

In the face of the current cultural climate in Holland it has never been more important or more urgent to address the issues that the conference will be addressing.

Moreover, we need to connect across borders, now more than ever. Holland is redefining itself as a society under siege that needs to defend it’s core values, and government policies are enforcing that vision. Artists ultimately create a society’s cultural identity, regardless of government policies. That’s why it’s time artists reclaim an issue that never should have been left in the hands of politicians to begin with: identity. It’s a big issue that no single conference can tackle.

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