Arts Collaboratory is a self-organized ‘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.
The DOEN Foundation is part of this ecosystem and contributes through financing, her network and knowledge. The 25 partners work closely together to strengthen each other’s organisations, activities and networks. They focus on social issues that connect them, such as climate change, the loss of existing social structures due to (too) rapid modernization, conflict and urban development. Through the use of art new perspectives are cast on these social issues. The perspectives are developed together and by the people involved.
A great example is Doual’art in Cameroon. This organisation has been working for years with artists and residents of four neighbourhoods in the city of Douala. This long-term cooperation established many artistic and practical improvements in the area. For example, Le Jardin Sonore (the music garden) by artist Lucas Grandin is a green meeting place with jungle vegetation and oil drums that play a symphony when it rains. Residents visit the garden to retreat from the busy city where peace and nature are scarce.
Another partner of the Arts Collaboratory network is Raw Material Company (Dakar, Senegal). De Raw Academy is a postgraduate program for artists, critics and curators. The program takes place twice a year for period of 10 weeks and offers artist space to research, produce, and exhibit, both in traditional forms (lectures and workshops) and more contemporary forms (daydreaming and gastronomy). RAW Academy aims to discuss 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 workers district in Mexico City. Together with artists, activists, journalists and residents the cooperative develops new types of self-education, self-organisation, and ideas for another possible future. In Mexico, where dictatorship and violence leave less and less freedom and space to citizens, this is very important.
Arts Collaboratory was established in 2007 by Hivos and DOEN Foundation. Since then, it went through several phases and in 2016 it became an independent and self-organized ecosystem. Arts Collaboratory finds itself in a transition phase and is therefore unable to admit new members at this time. It is the intention to resume this in the future. The DOEN Foundation is currently developing the financing possibilities for organisations that agree with Arts Collaboratory’s priorities. This will replace the Arts Collaboratory project fund, which DOEN managed in cooperation with Hivos. More information will appear on this website in December 2016.