Arts Collaboratory is a self-organised "ecosystem" of 25 independent art organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, with a focus on social change. In an ecosystem, all living and non-living organisms are connected. Arts Collaboratory not only connects these organisations, but also the values, knowledge and contacts they represent.
DOEN is part of this network and contributes to it through its funding, its network and its knowledge. The 25 partners work together to strengthen each other’s organisations, activities and networks. They focus on the social themes that connect them, such as climate change or the necessary renewal of existing social structures that are suffering from rapid modernisation, conflicts and increasing urbanisation. The deployment of art provides new perspectives on these social themes. These perspectives are being developed jointly, with and by the people concerned.
A good example is Doual'art in Cameroon. This organisation has been working with artists and residents in four districts in the city of Douala for years. Thanks to this long-term collaboration, many artistic and practical improvements have been made to the districts. One example is Le Jardin Sonore ("The Musical Garden") by the artist Lucas Grandin. This is a green meeting place with jungle vegetation and oil drums that play sounds when it rains. The residents visit the garden to retreat from the busy city where peace and greenery are very rare.
RAW Material Company
Another partner of the Arts Collaboratory network is the RAW Material Company (Dakar, Senegal). The RAW Academy is a postgraduate course for artists, critics and curators. The programme runs twice a year for 10 weeks and gives artists space for research, production and exhibition, both in traditional forms (lectures and workshops) and contemporary forms (daydreaming and gastronomy). RAW Academy aims to encourage discussion of relevant political and cultural issues in contemporary art.
In South America, Crater Invertido is an important partner of the network. Crater Invertido is an artists’ cooperative in a working-class area of Mexico City. Together with artists, activists, journalists and residents, it develops new forms of self-education, self-organisation and ideas for a different possible future. This is very important in Mexico, a country ruled by dictatorship and violence, where citizens have less and less freedom and room to manoeuvre.
Arts Collaboratory was founded in 2007 by Hivos and the DOEN Foundation. It has gone through several phases since then and has been an independent and self-organised ecosystem since 2016. As Arts Collaboratory is in a transitional phase until mid-2021, it is currently unable to admit new members.