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Reacties op onze 'Solidarity Call Out'

Na het negatieve advies van de Gemeente Utrecht, heeft BAK een ongelooflijke hoeveelheid steunbetuigingen ontvangen.


Lees het statement van BAK hier.

Jack Segbars, Rotterdam
Het is droevig dat BAK dreigt te verdwijnen met de zowel gemeentelijke als landelijke dubbele negatieve beoordelingen van hun subsidieaanvragen. BAK's onderzoekarchief en praktijkmodel zijn erg waardevol: de conferenties, de videoregistraties, de presentaties en de publicaties die integraal volgden uit het programma. Programma, discursieve productie en archief liepen zo in elkaar in een model van artistiek onderzoek, waarmee een zowel documenterende als een discipline overstijgende vorm van praktijk wordt voorgesteld.

Wat gebeurt er nu met het BAK archief? Heeft de beoordelingscommissie daarbij stil gestaan? Vermoedelijk niet, want dat valt buiten het directe mandaat. Voor de ontwikkeling van de kunst is dit archief mobiliserend en instructief geweest, hoe de kunst verder te denken. Toch staat dit werk nu op de tocht. Werk dat decennialang onderbouwd is met ondersteuning van de overheid die het culturele belang ervan hoog achtte. Ik denk dat de beoordeling onvoldoende recht doet aan het belang van het archief van BAK dat, wanneer het instituut mag verdwijnen, eveneens verdwijnt.

Er gaat hier iets mis.

Het tekent ook het manco aan het subsidiesysteem dat erg gericht is op de actualiteit van het laatste aanvraagkader. Het zijn energievretende exercities die tot zowel precariteit leidt (de instituten zijn hun leven niet zeker). Waarom is er geen mogelijkheid tot verduidelijking of aanpassing? Het leidt tot een praktijk van institutioneel stuivertje wisselen, waarbij de korte termijn domineert over de lange.

Het tekent de verwarring die bestaat over de term en functie van 'hedendaagse kunst'. Hoe om te gaan met het behoud ervan, en de vormen die ze voorstelt als kunstzinnige praktijk, wordt onvoldoende als structurele taak opgevat. Contemporain is dan slechts dat wat afrekenbaar is aan nu. Dan valt de zorgplicht voor wat is opgebouwd buiten beschouwing. De hedendaagse praktijk, de contemporaine kunst, is echter serieuzer te nemen wanneer we die als waardevolle en duurzame praktijk op zich zien. Dit vereist een ander kader van hoe in te schatten en te waarderen van wat geproduceerd is.

Valerie Wollinger
BAK always offered programs that I felt motivated to participated in. BAK is an important institution to help young minds find their critical voice and artistic expression. I hope with all my heart that you can survive.

Stress-NL, Nijmegen
Het wetenschappelijk Stress-NL consortium voorziet dat het bundelen van krachten tussen academische onderzoekers uit heel Nederland, variërend van preklinisch tot klinisch stressonderzoek, nodig is om onze kennis en het stressveld als geheel te vergroten.

Stress-NL heeft reeds meerdere malen het jaarlijkse ééndaagse Stress-NL symposium met groot succes georganiseerd in BAK, bij uitstek een stimulerende en laagdrempelige locatie voor het uitwisselen van nieuwe ideeën en visies. De centrale ligging van BAK draagt er ook aan bij dat meer dan honderdvijftig wetenschappers uit Nederland en nabije landen naar Utrecht afreizen.

BAK is dus een verbindende organisatie, niet alleen binnen Utrecht, maar ook binnen Nederland. Stress-NL hoopt ten zeerste dat de subsidie van BAK alsnog gecontinueerd zal worden zodat we ons jaarlijks Stress-NL symposium hier kunnen blijven organiseren.

Bart van Klink, Professor of Legal Methodology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
As the Professor of Legal Methodology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, I study the relationship between art, law, and politics. The exhibitions at BAK are a source of inspiration for my research, providing innovative and provocative insights into how law and politics shape our society. A vibrant society thrives on the audacity of artists who confront and challenge our biases. BAK stands out as a unique space for experimentation and dialogue between artists and scholars, unparalleled in the Dutch art world. Its preservation is essential for the continued enrichment of our cultural and intellectual landscape.

Sanne Boersma
In dit bericht wil ik mijn solidariteit uiten met het werk, de plek, de kunst van BAK in Utrecht, verweven met zoveel andere plekken op aarde. BAK laat de kracht van verbeelding zien en spreken in een tijd dat we dit meer dan ooit hard nodig hebben.

Nina Støttrup Larsen, artist, lecturer at La HEAR, Amsterdam
To read that BAK will loose its structural funding from the city of Utrecht is honestly bewildering. BAK stands as a lighthouse of situated knowledge production in the arts, and has only strengthened its position in the last decade. The solidity of the network around the institution is unparalleled, carefully stitched together of locally based artists and thinkers and an immensely diverse international expert network. The fact that the Advisory Committee for Culture in Utrecht does not see how that supports and enhances a city like Utrecht is worrying. I am proud of the engagements that I have had with BAK over the years, and I wholeheartedly support the mission of the institution. When I was recently there, it was as usual both a beautiful, meaningful experience to see the exhibition presented, but the conversations and collective thought which was densified by all people present, was exactly what I was looking for. Lucid and situated. BAK is one of a kind, and it is critical that it continues to exist.

Tom van Teijlingen
Het is wel heel erg wrang dat BAK een organisatie die ik onder andere ken van het project Propositions for Non-Fascist Living haar gemeentelijke subsidie verliest als Nederland haar eerste fascistische regering krijgt. Deze gedachte zoemt al sinds ik het las in mijn hoofd. En deze week lees ik dat hun ondersteuning door het ministerie van OCW ook dreigt te verdwijnen.

BAK is meer dan ooit nodig, voor Utrecht, Nederland, de wereld.
Landelijke Vereniging CultuurProfielScholen VO en PO (VCPS)
VCPS heeft afgelopen oktober een bijeenkomst voor haar leden georganiseerd in BAK. De cultuurprofielscholen primair- en voortgezet onderwijs vertegenwoordigt ca 100 000 leerlingen, schoolleiders, docenten en leerkrachten… In Utrecht stad en provincie bevinden zich maar liefst 10 grote scholengemeenschappen VO. Zij staat voor structurele samenwerking met culturele instellingen in de eigen omgeving.

Vrijplaatsen en denkplaatsen voor jonge makers, expositieruimtes, bibliotheken en theaters horen daarbij en zijn een inspiratiebron voor jongeren. Omdat daar mogelijkheden worden gecreëerd om buiten kaders te denken en te ontwikkelen, uit te wisselen en fouten te mogen maken. Omdat daar de oplossingen voor de toekomst ontkiemen.

Wat is een maatschappij waard als er geen ruimte wordt aangeboden voor jongeren om zich te ontplooien, te ontdekken en te groeien? Wij zagen bij BAK een indrukwekkende tentoonstelling over de oorlog in Oekraïne met prachtig lesmateriaal. Kunst is een veilige en hoopvolle plek voor de mens om te reflecteren op de weerbarstige maatschappij en draagt zo bij aan welzijn en geluk. Het is slijpsteen voor de geest en katalysator voor emotie.

Dit is een noodkreet aan gemeente Utrecht om dit mogelijk te blijven maken. BAK en Huis aan de Werf moeten als productiehuizen, exporuimtes en theaters blijven bestaan.

Berthe Schoonman, Galerie SANAA
BAK is een onmisbare speler in de stad Utrecht. BAK heeft in Utrecht en ook ver daarbuiten een geheel eigen plaats gecreëerd, door kunstenaars, kunsttheoretici, wetenschappers samen te brengen en de vruchten hiervan naar buiten te brengen in exposities, cursussen, publicaties. BAK werkt daarbij samen met vele partijen, de Utrechtse universiteit, kunstinstellingen, wijkbewoners, queer gemeenschap.

Specifiek voor Galerie SANAA, hedendaagse kunst, onder meer van kunstenaars uit Afrika en het Midden Oosten zijn de internationale contacten en de dwarsverbanden met theorievorming belangrijk.

Het toch al fragiele culturele ecosyteem in Utrecht voor beeldende kunst heeft BAK nodig voor de diversiteit en vernieuwing en verbreding van de sector. De verbeelding als kracht om tegenwicht te bieden tegen het (kille) klimaat waarin we leven.

Sonia de Jager, PhD candidate, Erasmus School of Philosophy
Dear municipality of Utrecht,

How long do you think it took to build the city? When did it start? How many hands? How many perspectives?

What do you value about it?

I hope, if anything, you can value that it's a conglomerate of lives, structures, possibilities, ways of being, gestures, visions. And, especially, that it took time and determined commitment from many, many different instances. Time is not always visible, but you value it without realizing when you see its results, such as a thriving city.

All the nooks and crannies. All the people involved. Everything it takes to make a community survive, and beyond.

Not to mention everything that is ignored in many city histories and narratives: all the people oppressed, exploited and forgotten.

Places like community centers, marketplaces, universities reflect the complexity of these issues. Places like BAK think really hard about and work really hard on contemplating these issues, too. And making them public, open, for the city, and beyond.

Places like BAK require structural support, just like universities, community centers, etc., do.

The more we defund these places, the more the city disappears, the more we eat away at the possibility to thrive together.

I hope you want to reconsider your decision to defund BAK for the coming period. This will create a really unnecessary culture-drain in the landscape that is Utrecht.

Harrie van Gemert, Utrecht
Het is zonde om de subsidie aan BAK stop te zetten !
Heb in het verleden dingen met BAK gedaan, met veel plezier !
BAK is een verbindende organisatie in Utrecht en zet de stad op een eigen manier op de kaart,
de stad en zijn inwoners !

Czar Kristoff J.P., Laguna, Philippines
Sending my solidarity with BAK. Your institution and the team running it has been a home for many artists and cultural practicioners. During my stay in the Netherlands, BAK has connected and grounded me to beautiful and progressive people from Utrecht and beyond. The friendship that I built with these people is something that I will cherish forever.

I hope that the Gemeente will continue supporting BAK as it is a place of not only cultural exchange but pf friendship. My memory of Utrecht will not always be about the beautiful canals and architecture but the moments with the friends I met through BAK.

The Green Papaya Collective
Green Papaya Art Projects (Philippines) stands in solidarity with BAK (basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht) as beneficiary of its international networking that encourages art to create knowledge that translates into social action. BAK must remain within the cultural ecosystem not only of Utrecht but of the global art ecosystem that collectively works to shape a better world.

Nan Hao, Shantou University, director, Non Space, Beijing, China
I am writing to express my support for BAK. Undoubtedly, BAK has been creating a vibrant platform for freedom of expression, critical thinking, and public engagement, which are crucial components for a free society. By creating the basis for artistic communications, discussions, and critical studies, I participated in BAK's summer school focusing on the theme 'Art and Practice in the Otherwise', which I'm still treasuring this period as a meaningful and thought-provoking experience in my art practice.

It is absolutely sad to hear that such institutions like BAK defunded, in a free and democratic country, The Netherlands. Why is culture always inferior to power and politics from the democratic West to the totalitarian regimes? Why is culture always in a precarious position when compared with finance, business, and politics? Please reconsider your decision.

Matthew Crookes and Victoria Choppington Fountain, Australia
I first attended summer school at BAK in 2019 (Art as Politics). BAK has played a crucial role in the furtherance of marginalized and exploited groups of people. It opened my eyes to a new function of art practice and my time there and in subsequent online programs during Covid shaped my practice into its current form. It was clear right away that this was a unique space and one savvy enough not to fall into the ‘safe space’ trap. It is an active space whose participants practice what they preach. Through the programs and the publications I was introduced to writers, thinkers and practitioners I otherwise wouldn’t have been, and to ways of practicing and viewing practice, quite different and more transformative than the standard institutional critique in which I had been previously schooled.

The link between creative arts and social activism, and equally significantly, the bringing together of people from around the globe as a community in virtual as well as IRL space, cannot be overstated in its importance, and BAK has provided meaningful and effective assistance to some of the most marginalized and vulnerable people in the community, including refugees, those living with disability; the dispossessed.

The recent decision by the Netherlands government to cut funding for BAK seems like one more regrettable side effect of pandering to rightwing populism, while at the same time further trashing the country’s image as a progressive and tolerant society. These measures never work. Rightwing populism cannot be appeased, and ought not be attempted. The Netherlands’ well-regarded progressive social policies were what marked it out throughout the world as somewhere special. With this action by the government, everyone loses.

Mitchell Esajas
BAK serves as a very importants space for dialogue, artistic development, creativity and debate. Two of our co-founders participated in thr Fellowship ehich helped the development of their artistic practice
In addition BAK has been very supportive of the artistic development of under represented Black artists and writers for example by supprting the Black Manifesto exhibition in 2020-2021. We think ita a shame that BAK may lose its funding from the municipality and hope this advice will be reconsidered.

Diana McCarty, Professor of Time Based Media and Performance, HfG Karlsruhe
As a former fellow and direct beneficiary of the fantastic programming of BAK I'm shocked to learn of any plans to cut rather than increase funding for such an important space of idea making in Utrecht. I strongly support the continued support for this unique arts initiative that brings the world home to Utrecht.

As a professor of Time Based Media and Performance at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, I can also attest to what BAK means for students at the University of the Arts Utrecht (HKU) and other students I encounter through ERASMUS exchanges. The world and Utrecht can be otherwise and BAK is core to opening up that reflective imagination of young and old world-makers. We live in terrible times and must cherish all those spaces that offer more options for being in the world.

Again, as a citizen, artist, professor, I strongly state my support for maintaining BAK with the hopes of future collaborations and the possibility for more exchanges.

Olga Mink, Artistic Director, Future of Work Foundation
I hereby express my strong support for BAK as an essential cultural organization in the Netherlands, dedicated to critical inquiry and artistic thinking for the international art community. During the Covid pandemic, I had the opportunity to participate in one of their courses led by Maria Hlavajova and experienced firsthand the depth of knowledge and vibrant communities that BAK fosters through its high-quality programs. In these times of polarization and the rise of extreme right-wing movements across Europe, the work BAK does is more crucial than ever. Their commitment to fostering critical dialogue and artistic engagement provides a necessary counterbalance to these troubling trends, and supports the development of a more informed, inclusive and social society.

Jacob Lund, Aarhus
For many years Bak has been unparallelled as a hub for cutting edge artistic practices, the development of theoretical ideas and advanced reflections on our societies, where they come from and where they are going. The discontinuation of Bak as an international leading cultural institution would be an immense loss not only to Utrecht and the Netherlands, but to a vast international audience and network who have benefitted greatly from the many projects and exhibitions Bak has initiated. The cultural importance of Bak cannot be overestimated.

Lorenzo Garcia-Andrade Llamas
As a person that worked intermittently during the Ultradependent Public School for approximately a year of visiting the place and Utrecht. I cannot read with more regret and worry the possibility that a place of such cultural endeavour is at risk. Apart from my own bright expierence with the team and the over a hundred participants of this program, whoever has been to bak knows the ongoing contribution it is making for contemporary artistic practices and discourses. Lighting a candle now hoping to see the decision of Utrecht's Gementee reversed.

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
As the Netherlands and Europe more broadly have become an increasingly hostile place for otherness in its varied forms, BAK has not just been a basis, it has become a bastion for fostering those fragile and fruitful connections between artists, activists, and thinkers, that sustain flourishing networks of work and thought. In doing so, BAK has built an unrivelled international reputation. To remove public funding from this institution not merely severely damages the local and national cultural landscapes; it is a thoughtless act of bureaucratic vandalism that leaves those most threatened by the fascist wave rolling over our continent most exposed.

Charli Herrington
I am writing to urge Gemeente Utrecht to reconsider their decision. BAK is one of the most important contemporary art institutions in the Netherlands because of its focus on education, community and social justice. Working with BAK as a HKU student was one of the most influential experiences of my graduate studies. After graduating I was fortunate to receive the opportunity to continue to work with BAK to develop the BAK community portal as part of their fellowship program. This experience was a crucial part of my entry into the professional art field as a recent graduate. The programming and events at BAK keep me returning to Utrecht even though I now live in a different city. Without BAK Utrecht’s cultural relevance will be greatly diminished. I hope to be able to continue to visit and engage with BAK for many years to come.

Jur Mulder
Ik heb een half jaar geleden bij bak gewerkt het was zo fijn om zo vrijgelaten tewoorden om met kunst tewerken en hoe inculusief ze zijn als je er eenmaal bent geweest heb je altijd een soort comunetie achter je staan ik deed mee aan bak yong fellow en ik kwam met een groepje jongeren samen om kunst temaken dat in actie tegen de maatschapij ging temaken we hebben dat ook gedaan het waren op eersten op zicht niet mensen waarmee ik om zou gaan in de klas maar hoelanger ik met hun was hoe beter ik ze leerden kennen bak heeft me geleerd dat als iemand niet jou stijl heeft je nog steeds met die genen bevriend kan raken bak mag echt niet weg het is belangrijk voor utrecht.

Yuliia Malynovska
Embassy of Ukraine in The Netherlands

LETTER OF GRATITUDE

BAK, basis voor actuele kunst,

For unwavering support of Ukrainian artists, researchers, and the Ukrainian community in Utrecht

Signed by ambassador Oleksandr KARASEVYCH

prg.524.ccf_002577.pdf

Renan Laru-an, Artistic Director, SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin
Almost ten years ago, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht became my resource of knowledge in initiating my research practice as a curator and theorist living in the Philippines. It pains me to know that a peer institution in Europe operating locally and influencing discourse and practice globally is undergoing economic challenges. The impact of BAK must be sustained through adequate funding structures.

Meia van Sorge, bak Young Fellow
Bak brengt mensen samen. Ik heb er hele verschillende mensen ontmoet, elk op hun eigen manier talentvol. Bak biedt onbekende mensen de kans om zich artistiek te ontwikkelen. Het is makkelijk om kleine organisaties te verwaarlozen, maar deze zijn cruciaal voor de culturele sector. Hier ontstaan nieuwe ideeën. Bak probeert de wereld beter te maken en werkt nauw samen met de Utrechtse bevolking. Daarom moet de subsidie voor Bak blijven!
Anke van Haarlem, lecturer and coördinator contemporary art HKU Media and HKU Art and Economics, Utrecht
5 juni nodigde ik Maria Hlavajova van BAK, wederom uit om in het komende studiejaar een college te geven aan 200 studenten van HKU Media. Elk jaar inspireert Maria onze studenten en nodigt ze hen uit mee te denken over andere manieren van samenzijn in een, zeker ook voor jonge mensen, zeer verontrustende tijd. Vlak na het versturen van de mail las ik over het negatieve advies van de adviescommissie cultuurnota 2025-2028.

BAK is een unieke organisatie waar een enorme en diverse groep mensen samenkomt, samen leert, samen werkt, samen danst. Dat ervaar ik wanneer ik tentoonstellingen of bijeenkomsten bij BAK bezoek (altijd van hoog niveau), erlangs ga voor een filmscreening of een concert tijdens Le Guess Who, maar zeker ook als docent aan HKU Media. Meerdere keren per jaar breng ik met studenten van verschillende afstudeerrichtingen een bezoek aan de tentoonstellingen bij BAK. Elke keer worden we met open armen ontvangen en altijd wordt ervoor gezorgd dat wij een introductie op het werk van BAK en de specifieke tentoonstelling krijgen. Een kennismaking als deze zorgt ervoor dat studenten zich gezien en gehoord voelen, ze voelen zich daardoor vrij om vragen te stellen en krijgen mede door de introductie het vertrouwen dat hun kritische reflectie op het werk dat ze zien ertoe doet. De studenten gaan hierdoor verbindingen aan met hun eigen maak- en denkproces en keren vervolgens met regelmaat terug naar BAK.

Ook de bezoeken die ik samen met Afghaanse en Syrische kennissen aan de Yallah Sabaya dansavonden in BAK bracht, geven blijk van het grote belang dat BAK hecht aan samenzijn en verbinding. BAK stelde meermaals haar ruimte voor deze feestelijke samenkomst van vrouwen ter beschikking. Bij de laatste Yallah Sabaya was er naast het volgen van dansworkshops ook de mogelijkheid door kunstenaar Marwa Arsanios rondgeleid te worden op haar tentoonstelling. Het zijn onvergetelijke avonden waarin samen eten, samen dansen en gesprekken plaatsvinden, alles mede mogelijk gemaakt door BAK.

Het is in mijn ogen onbegrijpelijk dat de commissie de enorme meerwaarde die BAK heeft voor Utrecht niet waardeert en deze unieke plek waar zo veel verschillende mensen participeren, samenkomen, ideeën uitwisselen, leren, de actualiteit bediscussiëren en visualiseren, dansen en troosten niet de kans biedt te blijven groeien. Juist nu is dat zo hard nodig.

Jun & Mitchy Saturay, Linangan Art & Culture Network, Utrecht
As Utrecht-based activists/artists/cultural workers with Filipino backgrounds, we the undersigned, are shocked by the proposal of the Utrecht Advisory Committee on the Culture Memorandum to withhold funding from BAK, basis for actuele kunst for 2025-2028.

To deny funding for BAK reveals the growing policy trend towards suppressing/reversing the growing practice of what BAK describes as “non-fascist living” and preparing for “the not-yet”.

For more than 10 years now, we have come to know BAK. Within the BAK spaces, we have interacted with people like us from different communities-engaged-in-struggle. We have found common struggles and aspirations. We have worked alongside professional artists and academics, exchanging socio-political-economic-cultural contexts, as well as enriching our artistic/aesthetic techniques and standards.

For us, BAK is beyond just an art space and academic institution. BAK serves as a fertile ground where artists, academics, activists, cultural workers, and the common working people are able to explore, defend, nuture, and build communities, cultures, solidarity, and aspirations.

We have witnessed how BAK, in the interest of genuine learning, creates platforms where the silenced can speak; and the invisible can be seen. The interested public can then hear what needs to be said, and see beyond false, filtered and negative portrayals that has become the normal nowadays.

Only in this kind of nurturing learning atmosphere can we imagine a truly democratic, non-fascist society for the future. From these imaginings, we can start defining the aesthetics of resistance and liberation: the new sounds, vocabularies, images, choreographies, and tastes of the revolutionary “not-yet”.

We urge the Gemeente Utrecht to reject the plan to deny BAK’s funding. If the Gemeente Utrecht wants to contribute towards developing Utrecht into a truly modern and progressive city, funding for BAK will give it the progressive hand to fend off the reactionary pressure that aims to turn art and cultural institutions into mills of social illiteracy, passivity and mediocrity.

Coni Ledesma, National Democratic Front of the Philippines
To our dear friends in BAK,

We heard the bews that you may not receive any funding from the Gemeente Utrecht for several years.

We find this a big disappointment because BAK has been open to all organizations that need a space to exhibit their work, or perform cultural numbers or a place to listen and llearn.

Where will such organizations go now?

BAK is an important and well appreciated institution in the Utrecht community.

We wish you great courage as you face the coming years of deprivation.

With you in spirit.

Tunde Toth, artist, Vienna
I have been a participant on the BAK online course "Art as Politics". Twice.

In the process of various academic studies and courses it was a transformational experience of clear, critical and fierce thinking, based on solidarity and concepts of collectivity, in the realm of the "here", the "global" and the "otherwise", in (ongoing) times of heightened uncertainties, urgencies and crisis. The course helped to structure my thinking processes and lead to an ever-shifting glossary for my participatory social arts practice that deals with pressing social themes of exclusion, co-existence and rights. The vocabulary I use to communicate my work is based on the glossary I built during this course. I regularly refer back to my notes - short segments, quotes and screenshots that are little seeds from the comprehensive content shared by Maria Hlavajova. The BAK publications can be essential resources for anyone working towards an equal, shared future.

We (=the world) urgently need more institutions like BAK (not less). We urgently need more original, fearless, radical thinking (not less). We need more radical action against all hatred, violence and othering - and try to keep our focus on trust, solidarity and care.

Anke Bangma, artistiek leider TENT, Rotterdam
Geschrokken en bezorgd heb ik kennis genomen van het gemeentelijke Cultuurplanadvies voor BAK. Het is moeilijk na te volgen waarom de positieve erkenning van de artistiek-inhoudelijke betekenis van dit instituut niets zou betekenen voor het Utrechtse culturele ecosysteem. Binnen het Nederlandse culturele veld zijn de rol en plek die BAK gestaag heeft op- en uitgebouwd uniek. Juist in kennisstad Utrecht past een kunstinstituut dat als geen ander maken en denken verbindt—in vormen van experimenteel onderzoek waarin kunst, wetenschap en urgente maatschappelijke vraagstukken samenkomen; en in programma’s waarin lokale, nationale en internationale publieken en participanten elkaar ontmoeten. BAK is daarmee toonaangevend, en doet dit niet toevallig vanuit de stad Utrecht, maar mét de stad Utrecht. Zo trekt BAK al vele jaren samen op met de Universiteit Utrecht en de HKU, lokale partners die net als BAK zelf gekarakteriseerd worden door de nationale betekenis en internationale netwerken die zij aan het Utrechtse ecosysteem verbinden. En tegelijkertijd opereert BAK vanuit de diepgewortelde opvatting dat collectief bevragen en leren iedereen aangaat—van uiteenlopende professionals en studenten, tot jongeren en diverse groepen en personen die de urgentie delen om, zelf en samen, in lokale en grotere verbanden, te ijveren voor een betere samenleving. Voor die gelaagde meerwaarde voor het grootstedelijke ecosysteem van Utrecht verdient BAK juist erkenning.

Federica Cologna, PhD artist-researcher at the Edinburgh College of Art - The University of Edinburgh, and member of the Community Wellbeing Collective (CWC) in Wester Hailes.
The notice about the possible defunding of BAK, one of the leading cultural institutions in Europe, is shocking and highly disheartening. This would be a cut to the concrete and unique work that BAK, in collaboration with many other institutions and groups of people, does in contributing to critical social change in a time of deep divisions and crises.

Working locally and transnationally, BAK offers a crucial space for highly relevant contemporary art research, for social justice education, as well as for community and solidarity building in Utrecht and also across borders. BAK has been key in expanding my networks and developing my preparation as an artist-researcher and member of a socially engaged organisation (The Community Wellbeing Collective) thanks to its outstanding publications, courses, exhibitions, working sessions and conventions. I recently obtained research funding from the University of Edinburgh to come to Utrecht to specifically visit BAK for its significance in the field of contemporary art and transdisciplinary research, and the excellence of its programme being exemplary in Europe and beyond.

BAK is such a precious platform for innovative research, collective learning, assembly and social action that you have in Utrecht. It is an institution to feel proud of funding and supporting. I urge all municipalities and governments to invest in a more liveable and social just future in which the culture and politics of togetherness that BAK actively builds are a fundamental part of it. I urge to continue funding BAK.

Vivian Ziherl, Kunstinstituut Melly, Rotterdam
BAK is a one-of-a-kind organisation in Utrecht, The Netherlands, and internationally. Over 24 years BAK has honed an invaluable voice at the forefront of questions that shape our future - in the field of art and theory and in our communities at large. BAK now has more to offer than ever, having built networks, tools and languages towards a more equitable, open and inspiring future. I truly hope that BAK’s funders will continue to back this vital organisation.

Linda Zeb Hang, artist, New York City and Rotterdam
Spaces like BAK are crucial to a city like Utrecht NL. I was lucky and fortunate to have come overseas last year to exhibit as part of Ultradependent Public School. It changed my life. This show enabled me to meet kind, intelligent folks that are active in their mindset, with behavior that aligns itself to the cause.
We continue to want that for each other, as we vote with our cultural currency.

Roland Sohier, kunstenaar, maker van tekeningen en schilderijen, Amsterdam
Geachte collega’s BAK en IMPAKT

Nu er een straffe bruine wind door Nederland en Europa waait getuigt het van weinig begrip en compassie voor het culturele klimaat van Utrecht om nu juist BAK en IMPAKT geen subsidie meer te verstrekken.

Jullie twee instituten wijden constant, pricipieel en met onderbouwde kennis van zaken aandacht aan actuele, politieke en sociale tendenzen in de maatschappij. Daarbij wordt het klassieke ‘kunst’ begrip danig opgerekt. Jullie kijken verder dan een aantrekkelijk schilderijtje voor boven de bank of weer een Netfix- video. Ook kijken jullie verder dan de ‘eigen Utrechters eerst’ mentaliteit die uit het advies van de commissie spreekt.

Jullie invalshoek wordt landelijk en ook internationaal herkend en gewaardeerd; door ‘kunst’ instituten en door universiteiten…

Met zulk een commissie kan het nieuwe kabinet geheel tevreden zijn!

Pinay sa Holland - GABRIELA, Amsterdam
To the revolutionaries at BAK,

In behalf of the Pinay sa Holland - GABRIELA, we would like to reach out and share our message of solidarity to you:

“Stop the cuts! Save the culture and arts!

Defunding BAK is to shatter the socio-cultural consciousness of people.

To defend arts is to defend our history and our stories!”

Hussein Shikha, artist, Antwerp
I am deeply surprised and saddened by the news that the Utrecht municipality has proposed cutting BAK’s funding. I would like to share my experience with BAK, which has opened many doors for me both in the Netherlands and beyond.

It was a pleasure to be involved with BAK, from the remarkable workshop participants to the dedicated facilitators and the BAK team. Conversations with workshop participants highlighted that the city—and indeed the Netherlands as a whole—lacked the level of engagement, criticality, and knowledge sharing that BAK provides.

During my time at BAK, the ethos and engagement of BAK's UPS project inspired me immensely. This inspiration led me to continue utilizing their methodologies in Antwerp for the festival I organized, "Here and Then, Now and There," where there was a small-scale collaboration with BAK, utilizing outcomes from the UPS project. I had hoped to revisit this collaboration and explore further with BAK what the next steps could be, as their engagement is very much needed not only in Utrecht but Antwerp as well.

I believe this decision will be a significant loss for the cultural sector. Emerging artists and many others will suffer, as BAK shares numerous tools and methodologies to critically navigate our complex, but beautiful world.

Personally, I owe a great deal to BAK and the connections they facilitated during my involvement in their UPS project. As a result, I currently have an exhibition at the TextielMuseum in Tilburg and recently showcased my work at Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam.

I implore the city of Utrecht to reconsider.

Susan Jenkins - writer, artist, lecturer in research communication skills
Of er een instelling als BAK in Utrecht is, doet er niet toe voor de langetermijnvisie van Utrecht, omdat de zichtbaarheid in de culturele sfeer zoveel belangrijker is dan wat er onder ligt, toch? Denk nog eens.

Ik vestigde me acht jaar geleden in Utrecht omdat het zoveel meer mogelijkheden bood voor een bedachtzame en ondersteunende cultuur dan New York. Ja, geloof het. Ik exposeerde mijn kinetische kunst uit natuurlijke bronnen bij BAK toen ik afstudeerde aan de HKU en zag de nieuwsgierigheid en verwondering op de gezichten van de tientallen bezoekers per dag die de creatieve verkenningen van mijn cohort tegenkwamen. Ik heb gezien hoe de culturele ontwikkeling van de stad jongere kunstenaars heeft gevoed, en gezinnen een overweldigend aanbod van plaatsen heeft geboden om hun dagelijkse leven te verrijken. Wat de commissie en de gemeenteraad zich niet realiseren is dat BAK het essentiële onderdeel is van het Utrechtse culturele ecosysteem dat het mogelijk heeft gemaakt dat deze hedendaagse, innovatieve en sociaal ondersteunende beeldende kunstondernemingen überhaupt konden groeien in Utrecht in de afgelopen 25 jaar. Zonder BAK zou je Casco, RAUM, Nijverheid, Werkspoor Kwartier, Hof Cartesius en vele andere van de nieuwere plaatsmakende creatieve energieën niet hebben, noch zouden de gerespecteerde Utrechtse instellingen voor beeldende kunstopleidingen studenten en onderzoekers aantrekken die deze unieke combinatie nergens anders kunnen vinden. Al deze entiteiten zullen de sluiting van BAK voelen als een verlies voor hun eigen ondernemingen, of ze zich daar nu bewust van zijn of niet.

Dit komt omdat de rol die BAK vervult - het samenbrengen van publiek betrokken publiek en de vaardigheden van innovatieve kunstenaars en denkers - net zo is als het sociale onderzoek dat aan de Universiteit Utrecht wordt gedaan om Open Samenlevingen en Pathways to Sustainability mogelijk te maken - je zou deze experimentele fundamenten net zo min uit het ecosysteem verwijderen om samenlevingen te helpen zich voor te bereiden op een betere toekomst, als je de hersenen uit het lichaam zou verwijderen. Waarom onderzoek door middel van kunst maken anders behandelen? Het kan alleen maar zo zijn dat de commissie slachtoffer is geworden van de onderstroom van schijn versus diepgang die alle takken van publieke betrokkenheid heeft geteisterd sinds de opkomst van de sociale media.

Natuurlijk voelen dit soort experimenten zich misschien meer op hun plaats bij de beter ondersteunde beeldende kunstmotoren in Amsterdam, Rotterdam en Den Haag, maar hoe helpt dat Utrecht bij het aantrekken en ontwikkelen van een veerkrachtige, openhartige gemeenschap die de verleidingen van polarisatie kan weerstaan? Of wordt Utrecht meer dan de 4e stad van Nederland, maar een potentiële leider in Europa voor samenleven in een veerkrachtige en uitdagende toekomst? De stad is al de groenste, waarom niet ook de meest sociaal veerkrachtige? Zonder de kern van het kunstzenuwstelsel zullen de externe aspecten van het kunstlichaam verdwijnen. Voor mijn adoptiestad zou dat een onherroepelijk verlies zijn.

Bart Rutten, artistiek directeur Centraal Museum, Utrecht
Lucifer, Utrecht
As someone who did his internship at the at the Voorkamer, I have a lot of nice memories at BAK. It feels warm here every time I come here. It really feels just like my living room. My big living room.

Arno van Roosmalen, Den Haag
Na het lezen van (delen uit) het advies “Kleur bekennen” werd ik overvallen door ongeloof en iets dat grenst aan wanhoop. Hoe kan het zijn dat met betrekking tot de meerjarenaanvraag van BAK een zodanig advies wordt geformuleerd dat, indien het door de gemeente Utrecht wordt opgevolgd, het voortbestaan van een van de culturele briljanten in Utrecht bedreigt?

Het voelt als onterecht. BAK voert al decennia een duidelijke koers als politiek en maatschappelijk geëngageerde culturele instelling. Niet star, maar juist wendbaar. Niet berustend in een positie, maar ondernemend. Ondernemend in de betekenis van kansen en mogelijkheden onderzoeken, ontwikkelingen afdwingen, allianties aangaan, nieuwe verschijningsvormen bieden - dit alles ten dienste van haar maatschappelijke en culturele doelstelling.
Dat is tamelijk uniek in Nederland en zeker in Utrecht.

Het voelt als een advies dat gebaseerd is op onvolledig geïnformeerd zijn of onvoldoende besef en inzicht. Ja, BAK is ‘theoretisch’. En ja, BAK is (daarom) ook een post-academische instelling. Een prachtige toevoeging aan het toch al bijzondere profiel dat BAK had. Een toevoeging die precies dat bracht wat Utrecht nodig had: een zo specifieke opleiding binnen het rijke onderwijspalet van de universiteitsstad. Het bracht BAK zelf een verrijking: opleiding, internationaal netwerk van studenten en fellows, een verbinding binnen de organisatie van maatschappelijke theorie en maatschappelijk werk, een uitstraling naar een diversiteit aan doelgroepen
De stad die zich profileert met wetenschap en onderwijs, kunst en cultuur kan niet anders dan BAK koesteren.

Zelf werk ik al enkele decennia in de Nederlandse kunstwereld. Als voorzitter van De Zaak Nu, de Nederlandse belangenvereniging voor presentatie-instellingen en post-academische opleidingen, heb ik een goed overzicht opgebouwd van deze sector in Nederland. Vanuit kennis en inzicht kan ik zeggen dat BAK een van de meest consequent en onderscheidend geprofileerde organisaties is in Nederland, die zichzelf voortdurend vernieuwt, vanuit oprechte betrokkenheid bij politiek-maatschappelijke ontwikkelingen, waar jonge kunstenaars en andere cultuurwerkers geweldige kansen krijgen, en mensen uit vele delen van de Utrechtse samenleving door gesterkt en geïnspireerd raken. Laat dat vooral niet verloren gaan, want dat voelt als onrechtvaardig.

Misschien is dit een al te persoonlijk woord, maar voor mij voelt het advies ook als respectloos tegenover bestuur, directie en team van BAK, met betrekking tot wat zij bereikt hebben en tot de ontwikkelpotentie van organisatie en programma.

Rabih Mroué, artist, Beirut and Berlin
I am deeply grateful to BAK for their unwavering support of my artistic career in the visual arts. My first solo exhibition in 2010 was made possible by their encouragement, and it opened up a world of opportunities for me.

I have been following BAK for many years, drawn by their innovative programs, exhibitions, and social publications and books, all of which have greatly influenced me. BAK has inspired many artists and curators with their amazing approach to art and artists, as well as the creative concepts and influential terms they have introduced.

I stand in solidarity with BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, in Utrecht. I wholeheartedly support their mission to keep the opportunities they have already offered for nope dialogue and conversation among artists, intellectuals, students and from around the world. In these times of global conflicts and wars, BAK's role in fostering such important exchanges is more crucial than ever.

Parel Strik, Utrecht
I've been affiliated with BAK for the last two years, both through lessons as through the current graduation exhibition and throughout each day and all these conversations, I've noticed the importance. And I think that we have to keep learning together. And by cutting off BAK, I think you'll do a great injustice to Utrecht. So please support us.

Guiot Duermeijer, kunstdocent en cultuurcoördinator Anna van Rijn College Nieuwegein
BAK heeft het afgelopen jaar een cruciale rol gespeeld in een ontwikkeling en het artistieke zelfvertrouwen van de unieke jonge kunstenaar Raidan, die wij vervolgens bij op ons op school verder hebben zien groeien. In Utrecht moet er ruimte blijven voor nieuwe stemmen om zich te ontwikkelen in het culturele veld. Zeker als zij zo'n ongelofelijke zeggingskracht hebben.

Catherine Pérez Cuartas, Professor and researcher., Colombia - Latin America
I am writing to you with profound surprise and sadness upon receiving the news of the potential closure of BAK. BAK has been the most significant and transformative experience in my educational and personal journey. My time there not only changed me profoundly but also awarded me a scholarship that enabled me to bring invaluable insights back to Colombia, where I have been able to work with and impact local communities.

During my time at BAK, I witnessed firsthand the institution's unwavering commitment to academic excellence and artistic innovation. The experiences and knowledge I gained at BAK have allowed me to implement meaningful projects in my home country, fostering cultural and social development in various communities.

The closure of BAK would not only be an irreparable loss for those of us who have been profoundly influenced by its work but also for future generations who would be deprived of such an enriching educational experience.

I am at your disposal for any initiative that helps to preserve and strengthen BAK.

Paula Hernández, London
As a professional conference interpreter, it is a real honour to have the opportunity to spread the work and the wonderful work of the Basis voor Actuele Kunst internationally.

I greatly appreciate the value the centre places on language justice and how they ensure that all content and information is accessible to as many people as possible; content that is loaded with invaluable information for society, raising awareness of a wide range of issues such as the environment, social inequalities and established narratives, highlighting the need for a more just world.

Having a space like BAK where all these ideas, experiences and thoughts of people from different backgrounds can be freely expressed, puts Utrecht directly in a central position in the defence of good social practices and as an international reference city.

I personally loved the Marwa Arsanios exhibition that took place on 24 and 25 May. I learned a lot during those days and it made me grow on a personal level. It would be a pity if such an important institution had to stop such remarkable work for financial reasons and I hope with all my heart that they will continue to collaborate with the municipality of Utrecht.

Rosi Braidotti, Utrecht
For the last decades, BAK has illuminated our beautiful town with its creative force and sharp critical intelligence. I have been honoured and delighted to collaborate and co-published with Maria and her teams over many years. I simply cannot imagine Utrecht, the Netherlands or the world without the BAK. I strongly support the call for renewed institutional support for this unique and remarkable platform.

Triwish Hanoeman, artiest, Utrecht
Anneke Smelik, Professor Emerita of Visual Culture, Radboud University Nijmegen
Graag spreek ik hierbij mijn steun uit voor BAK; er zijn weinig culturele instanties die zó vernieuwend zijn en zó kritisch op de hedendaagse ontwikkelingen in kunst en cultuur als het onvolprezen BAK. Het zou een groot verlies zijn om dit prachtige instituut kwijt te raken—niet alleen voor de stad Utrecht, maar ook voor Nederland, en zeker ook internationaal.

Wij vragen hierbij om de subsidie alstublieft met nog vele jaren te verlengen!

RADIUS, Center for Contemporary Art and Ecology in Delft, the Netherlands
As a fellow art institution, RADIUS is disturbed to hear of the intention of the Municipality of Utrecht to cut the subsidies for BAK. We at RADIUS view BAK as a cultural institution which is vital for the Dutch cultural scene, and admire its program as well as its devotion to linking art with politics.

Khadija Hyati, president van het Schoonmakersparlement van FNV Schoonmaak, Matthijs de Bruijne, kunstenaar en professor voor mehrdimensionale Strategien aan de Kunsthochschule Kassel, Herrie Hoogenboom, bestuurder van FNV Schoonmaak
Beste raadsleden van de stad Utrecht,

Met deze brief willen we uw aandacht vragen voor de zware consequenties van het voorstel van de Utrechtse adviescommissie Cultuurnota 2025-2028 van 5 juni jongstleden. Wij maken ons ernstige zorgen over het advies om BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, niet langer te financieren. Dit advies betekent hoogstwaarschijnlijk een sluiting van BAK, en voor de Vakbond van Schoonmakers het einde van een langdurige samenwerking met deze unieke Utrechtse kunstinstelling.

Onze samenwerking is ontstaan in de eerste jaren van deze eeuw. Toen drong bij twee FNV-bestuurders van de Vakbond van Schoonmakers het besef door dat er iets wezenlijks moest veranderen in hun organisatie. De vakbond en zijn veelal witte mannelijke kaderleden representeerden niet meer de huidige schoonmakers in Nederland. Met behulp van ervaringen uit het buitenland begonnen de twee bestuurders deze vakbond te hervormen met het doel de vakbond ‘terug te geven’ aan zijn werkers.

Een belangrijk onderdeel van deze veranderingen was het geloof in het creëren van een eigen cultuur. Dit betekende onder andere het toepassen van een beeldtaal die anders was dan die van de grote bedrijven, die ook anders was dan het ‘corporate design’ die de FNV toentertijd gebruikte. Om dit te verwezenlijken nodigden de Vakbond van Schoonmakers ontwerpers uit en in 2010 werd de kunstenaar Matthijs de Bruijne gevraagd om voor én samen met de schoonmakers te gaan werken.

BAK was vanaf het begin zeer geïnteresseerd in deze kunstpraktijk die rond de jaren van de grote schoonmaakstakingen in 2012 en 2014 tot een hoogtepunt kwam. Maar in tegenstelling tot andere kunstinstituten voerde BAK dit niet als een thema op in een van hun tentoonstellingen, laat staan dat zij probeerden elementen van deze sociale beweging toe te eigenen. Wat BAK wel deed was door middel van gesprekken en door ons te betrekken in hun activiteiten, stapje voor stapje en met grote betrokkenheid, te onderzoeken op welke manier het beste een langdurige samenwerking vormgegeven kon worden.

Uiteindelijk is in 2017 de samenwerking begonnen, eerst vooral met Matthijs de Bruijne, later werd ook met de vakbond. Een samenwerking waarbij theorie en praktijk versmolten en die resulteerde, in 2018, in een project waar de positie van kunst in een vakbeweging centraal stond. Vanaf die tijd waren er trainingen voor nieuwe vakbondsorganizors over het belang van een eigen cultuur en de rol die kunstenaars daarin kunnen spelen. Er waren diverse vergaderingen, met name van de Domestic Workers FNV, die niet in het FNV-hoofdkantoor plaatsvonden maar in BAK. En er was in het jaar 2018 een grote tentoonstelling over de rol van kunstenaars in vakbewegingen.

De samenwerking met BAK was duidelijk gericht op de lange termijn. Tot op heden, ook nu Matthijs de Bruijne niet meer betrokken is bij de FNV, nemen kaderleden van de Vakbond van Schoonmaker (inmiddels FNV Schoonmaak genaamd) geregeld deel aan bijeenkomsten georganiseerd door BAK. Na al die jaren kunnen we zeggen dat BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, tot een van de zeldzame kunstinstellingen in Nederland behoort, en in Utrecht is ze zelfs de enige, waar blijvende culturele en sociale banden tussen de sector beeldende kunst en sociale bewegingen zijn gerealiseerd. En dit op basis van wederkerigheid.

Zeker gezien het aantreden van de komende regering zal het niet toekennen van subsidie aan BAK door de stad Utrecht hoogstwaarschijnlijk een permanente sluiting betekenen. Er zal daardoor in Utrecht een unieke plek verloren zal gaan waar samenwerkingen en kruisbestuivingen tot stand komen die we in het verharde politieke klimaat in Nederland hard nodig zullen hebben.

We vragen u daarom stil te staan bij de verstrekkende consequenties die het advies van de Utrechtse adviescommissie Cultuurnota 2025-2028 kunnen hebben.

Grzegorz Reske, artistic director, SPRING Performing Arts Festival, Utrecht
With no doubt BAK is an unique institution - not only for Utrecht, but for The Netherlands and Europe. In past years, this institution settled in our city and supported by it, created numerous important projects - which not only stays in memory of the audience and participants, but very often also in publications and archives. As non-academic research centre BAK investigates, develops and practices new models of knowledge production and exchange. As with all pioneer initiatives, it is hard to measure; it often slips the qualitative indicators. But it is hard to overestimate the quality and impact of the initiatives that BAK brings to discourse in thinking about the future of art and its role in the society. It is also hard today to overestimate the gap which limitation of its activities or disappearance all together from the landscape of the city and country will create. Today we need “impossible” organizations more than ever - to think together about a possible future.

Chris Keulemans, writer
Any city that is serious about its arts needs a place for critical analysis and alternative views of the future. Utrecht prides itself as a city with a rich cultural history and a vibrant contemporary arts scene. BAK has helped to develop and guide this identity. It has been vital in guarding the city from complacency and provincialism. Cutting out this unique centre at the heart of the serious reflection any city needs would leave Utrecht in a sorry and soulless state.

Jolle Demmers, Professor In Conflict Studies/Head of Department of History and Art History, Utrecht University
Since its Concerning War project in 2005-2006 BAK has been a source of inspiration for academics and students in the field of Conflict Studies at Utrecht University. Together, we investigated key questions on violence/peace, war/truth, subjects/citizens, the former west, institutions, art/politics – always through new and unexpected ways of transdisciplinary engagement. BAK is an exciting place, a home, a base, a network, a core from which actual new perspectives, vocabularies and collaboration grow. It takes in a vital role in the intellectual and artistic fabric of the city -losing it would be detrimental.

Chiara Sartori
I would like to send this short message of solidarity for BAK as, since I was a resident of The Netherlands, back in 2006, I have been constantly following their outstanding program, with a great attention to fellowship's topics which were always able to give me an actual and relevant perspective on artistic/curatorial research and practices in the wider, international contemporary art scene.
I believe that de-funding BAK's program will imply an incredible loss for the whole international and local communities.
I would like to strongly support with this message BAK, its staff and past, present and future programming!

Ido de Haan, professor of political history, Utrecht University
In response to your plea for support BAK in its struggle to avoid defunding, let me state that BAK fulfils an essential role in the cultural and educational infrastructure of city and province of Utrecht and far beyond. As partners from the Faculty of the Humanities of Utrecht University, we have worked together in a series of activities, initiated by BAK, around urgent and crucial issues in contemporary culture and society. BAK has demonstrated to be an essential platform for societal debate and reflection. Yet even more relevant from my perspective as professor of political history, is that BAK has been a very important partner in the education of our students, by providing opportunities for internships and collaboration, and has been an essential link for me and my colleagues at Utrecht University to the broader context of Utrecht as a society and culture. Especially relevant is the way in which BAK has been able to connect the local context of Utrecht to issues and debates that have a national, European, and global reach, by addressing pivotal issues of our time regarding democracy, ecology and the cultural preconditions of a decent society. BAK has played a pivotal as initiator and enabler of societal debate, and demonstrated to be at the forefront of the cultural transformations of our time. It would be a serious loss to the city and the region, if BAK would no longer be able to play that role.

Line Kramer, Rotterdam
I’m a Rotterdam based artist and part time working in an art institute. In 2018 I attended the evening course Politics and Art at BAK, this course was fundamental for a greater understanding of the role of art in a political globalised world, and the role of politics in the art world. Later I went to the Summerschool at BAK , it was the same same course but in an extended fashion. I wanted to prepare my study for my MA in art and the two courses at BAK were fundamental for this. The time spend at BAK during these two courses and the people I met during those are in fact comparable in their content value with a 2 years study for a MA in art.
I’m forever happy to then have gotten to learn to know Maria Hlavajova, a person with vision, she created BAK’s program 'Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–ongoing)’, many of the events and workshops this program generated I attended. I made new friend ships and enriched my personal and professional life with a deeper understanding of what it means to be an artist, or work as an art professional in a world were Non-Fascist-Living has become almost unthinkable.
An institute as BAK is needed in the world.
many thanks Maria, many thanks BAK

Josef Dabernig, artist and filmmaker, Vienna
2003 wurde mir die Freude zuteil, BAK basis voor aktuele kunst mit einem poetischen Statement als Fade In zu initialisieren. BAK's über 20-jährige Geschichte steht für einen äußerst erfolgreichen Weg, Kunst und dessen Diskurse mit den wichtigen Fragestellungen unseres gesellschaftlichen Zusammenlebens gegenzulesen. Die Stadt Utrecht sollte diesen Freiraum kultureller Produktion nicht leichtfertig aus Spiel setzen, sondern mit Kontinuität stärken!

In 2003 I had the pleasure of initializing BAK basis voor actuele kunst with a poetic statement as Fade In. BAK's 20-year history represents an extremely successful way of interpreting art and its discourses with the important questions of our social coexistence. The city of Utrecht should not carelessly abandon this freedom of cultural production, but rather strengthen it with continuity!

Lotte Arndt, curator and researcher, Paris
Over the past decade (and longer) BAK has constantly been a space of
critical thought, cutting edge programs, strong local implication, sharp
analysis and international collaborations. It brings together art with a
socially engaged understanding of cultural work. Even as a resident of a
neighboring country who is only coming occasionally to the NL, BAKs work
has been constantly present, and of international importance. By
bringing together the means to render the activities visible both in
Utrecht and beyond, the outstanding team produces a truly international
space that sets often the tone for the debate. This kind of space that
allows people to gather, discuss, exchange and build is more important
than ever. Closing BAK, a long-term engagement with art and culture, a
resource for artists, thinkers and communities, would be a deep loss,
and at the opposite of the urgencies of the present time.

Jason E. Bowman, Senior Lecturer, Fine Art and MFA Fine Art Programme Director
I write as both an artist and academic.

BAK’s work - in exhibition, publication, seminar and symposia - is a European lodestar in identifying and addressing many of the most urgent challenges of our times.

It is unique in its approach, which manifests in a form or organisation and organising like no other.

It should be understood and supported as a major cultural asset in Utrecht, the Netherlands and across Europe by funders.

Louis van den Hengel, Associate Professor of Care Ethics and the Arts, University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht
I stand in unwavering solidarity with BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, as it faces the critical threat of losing its funding. BAK is not only a cornerstone of Utrecht's cultural infrastructure, but also a beacon of progressive thought through its long-standing research itinerary, Propositions for Non-Fascist Living. In an era where reactionary tendencies pose significant threats to our societies, BAK's commitment to fostering an inclusive, equitable, and democratic art of living has never been more crucial. As an Utrecht-based contemporary art scholar dedicated to building a humane and caring society in which all people can lead meaningful lives – a task for which the arts are crucial –, I believe the potential loss of this vital institution would be a severe setback for our artistic and academic communities, both locally and nationally. We must support BAK in continuing its essential work.

Corinna Canali
What is happening to BAK is heartbreaking and frightening, especially in the light of the darker shift that western societies and European countries have been taking. In my brief encounters with it, I have experienced BAK as an authentically open and independent center (community) to rethink and rebuild cultural practices giving a counter narrative to the contemporary and the past, and to voice those that history has rather silenced, discriminated against, and oppressed.

There’s no win for anyone when places like this are dismantled and their work is destroyed.

I’m deeply saddened and enraged.

Dr Janet Rodenburg, antropoloog
Steeds ben ik weer verrast als ik een bezoek breng aan BAK: wat een creativiteit met een zeer diverse en innovatieve groep kunstenaars die het lef hebben om maatschappelijke thema’s aan te kaarten waar veel mensen liever over zwijgen. Juist nu, in een tijd van radicalisering, is BAK onmisbaar voor een stad als Utrecht.

Marga M
Utrecht zonder bak?! Wat een afgang, zeker in deze tijden!

Ferdinand de Jong, International Fellow, New Europe College
I would like to express my solidarity with BAK and hope the decision to defund BAK will be revised.

The reason for this is that I am a great fan of BAK. Ever since I found out about its programme, I have visited its exhibitions and attended several of its online debates. BAK stages exhibits artists of global significance who would not otherwise be exhibited in the Netherlands. It is a unique place, certainly in Utrecht.

Although I am not an inhabitant of Utrecht, I have taken friends from Utrecht to BAK to visit its exhibitions. And even though I am out of the country for most of the time, when I'm there I make sure to visit BAK. If Utrecht wishes to appeal to an international audience of art aficionados, then it can't afford to defund BAK.

Fabiola Camuti, Professor of Creative Pedagogies, HKU University of the Arts Utrecht
I am deeply saddened to learn about the defunding decision by the Utrecht Advisory Committee. As a scholar based in Utrecht focusing on political and art pedagogies, I stand in solidarity with BAK and wish to express my strong support for your continued operation and contributions.

BAK's role in the cultural, artistic, academic, and societal ecosystem of Utrecht is unparalleled. You have consistently provided a platform for critical discourse, innovative artistic practices, and socially-engaged projects that resonate not only within our local community but also on a global scale. Your commitment to fostering dialogues that address urgent societal issues through art and research is invaluable.

Your work has enriched the cultural fabric of our city, offering spaces where diverse voices and perspectives can converge and be heard. The interdisciplinary nature of your programs has bridged gaps between academia, artistic communities, and the public, creating a vibrant and inclusive environment for learning and growth.

The defunding of BAK represents a significant loss to the cultural and intellectual landscape of Utrecht. I urge the community and decision-makers to recognize the crucial impact of BAK's contributions and to reconsider this decision.

We Worknot
We recognize the importance of BAK to the modes of thinking in Utrecht and the Netherlands. It is not often that such a space consistently brings diverse models of practice and professions around the table and create networks that connect local and global concerns and discourses. As past collaborators with BAK, we have been facilitated to contribute critically to the cultural scene in the Netherlands.

Jan-Pieter ’t Hart, Head of Communication at De Appel
De Appel sees BAK as a vital ally in the local, national and international production of artistic, political and social exchange. BAK is not just a culturally significant platform in the city of Utrecht, it also offers important opportunities for artists and researchers through their fellowship and other educational programs, and has been doing this consistently for years. We are saddened to hear about the decision by the Utrecht Advisory Committee to not finance BAK for the coming years, and we would strongly plead to reconsider this decision.

Antoni Czarczyński, filmmaker, Rotterdam
I stand in solidarity with BAK’s staff, as well as, with BAK as an institution. I have experienced BAK to be extremely valuable in bringing forward hopeful ideas on how artistic thinking and research can contribute to organising life of communities smaller or bigger. What is also worth mentioning, I found it to be a fair collaborator and a hospitable host! Stand strong!

Peter Baren, artist
I Wholeheartedly Plead To The Utrecht Advisory Committee On Culture Memorandum: Keep Your Funding For BAK Straight Up And Preserve This Essential Platform For [YES] Utrecht's Culture And Society In So Many Different Ways And At The Same Time Its [YES] Incredibly Outspread Network. So They Continue Their Great And Dedicated Work They Have Been Doing For Many Years TO COME!

T. J. Demos, Professor, and Patricia and Rowland Rebele Endowed Chair in Art History, Chair, Dept of History of Art and Visual Culture, Director, Center for Creative Ecologies, University of California, Santa Cruz
As an international scholar and researcher based at University of California, Santa Cruz who has collaborated with and visited BAK on multiple occasions over the last couple decades, I write in shock to learn that its funding is threatened and to provide a solidarity statement that expresses my deep appreciation for BAK and demand for its continued support.

For more than two decades, BAK has been dedicated to providing Utrecht with a distinctive, critical hub where art, knowledge, and social engagement intersect in continually innovative ways. The recent questioning of BAK’s funding is deeply concerning , particularly for the artists and cultural collaborators partnering with BAK, as well as the diverse communities in and beyond Utrecht, with whom BAK engages extensively.

From marginalized groups to the broader public, from local community networks to global postgraduate fellows and international researchers like myself, from art academy and university students (including those from HKU University of the Arts and Utrecht University) to high schoolers, and from grassroots initiatives to established cultural entities, BAK’s collaborations span a wide spectrum of interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral engagement.

BAK serves as a socially conscious cultural beacon and Utrecht’s sole non-academic institution. What sets BAK apart nationally is its dual role in supporting creative practice presentation and organizing critical research endeavors, fostering collective creativity while bridging local and international spheres in Utrecht.

Here, art's collective imaginings are nurtured to envision a better world. In such dark times as these, this is needed more than ever. BAK achieves this through dynamic public programming—comprising discussions on pressing urban and global issues, along with exhibitions, seminars, and performances, including many that engage the local context and put it in contact with the larger world. BAK’s commitment extends to researching social and ecological themes, producing new artistic works, cultivating emerging talents, and fostering educational initiatives, all critical endeavors in current times.

Instead of considering self-destructively cutting funding to organizations such as BAK and giving in to a misguided austerity politics that will harm us all, there should be a commitment to protecting this precious institution and expanding its resources.

Marlies Levels
BAK kept my mind buzzing
and as well on focus
by the minds and actions of artists

Esin Güler
To whom it may concern in Gemeente Utrecht,

By 2024, multiple aspects of the global crisis started taking headlines more frequently. Namely ecological, financial, political and technological.

We artists are standing in between these harsh winds and trying to bring awareness into the crowd and express these uneven worldly constraints.

BAK is an international platform to support and give voice to artists.
They support the people who otherwise would be never heard and their innovative creativity might have gotten silenced.

Withdrawing funds of an art organisation like BAK should be the last option to take for Gemeente Utrecht. A city like Utrecht can support many more artistic organisations and provide a platform to a diverse community.

As an artist with a non-eu background, I appreciate their edifying efforts and bringing people together. I hope this decision will not take place and the ecosystem around BAK keeps growing stronger.

Peter Bosch, gepensioneerd, Zeist
In de afgelopen jaren heb ik een aantal exposities in BAK bezocht. Over de oorlog in Ukraine, over de rol van een architecten collectief in waarheidsvinding in oorlogs- en vergelijkbare situaties, over stedelijke inrichting en -planning, kortom over al die onderwerpen waar kunst raakt aan het maatschappelijk debat. Bij ieder bezoek verbaas ik mij over de actieve rol die BAK speelt in het onderwijs van jongeren. Een besluit om te snijden in de subsidie van BAK is onbegrijpelijk in een tijd waarin kritisch kijken en kritisch denken moet worden gestimuleerd.

Prof. Dr. Karen van den Berg and Rahel Spöhrer
Dear Utrecht Advisory Committee on the Culture Memorandum,

We are deeply devastated about the de-funding of such a visionary institution as BAK Utrecht. In our roles as curators, lecturers and as professors at Zeppelin University Germany and as members and head of the training of the EU-funded graduate programme FEINART, we worked with BAK in manifold ways and are planning to continue this fruitful partnership in the near and distant future through joint research, field trips and teaching collaborations. BAK Utrecht deservedly has enormous reputation far beyond the country's borders and we are incredibly grateful about the opportunity to work with BAK.

For those in the art field and in academia, who are concerned with the question of the future of art institutions in times of social division and eroding democracies, BAK is setting an irreplicable agenda with sustainable programme lines such as “Former West”, “Propositions for Non-Fascist Living”. and “Spectral Infrastructure”. BAK achieves this on the one hand through its outstanding close link between artistic practice, social and political engagement, and ambitious social science research, but above all because BAK convincingly combines this with local community work. From the outside, it is therefore rather irritating that the lack of local networking - of all things - is now being cited by the city as the reason for the de-funding.

Our experiences – and the reports of the PhD students who worked and researched at BAK for months on site ¬ provided a completely different picture. As part of the Horizon 2020 project FEINART, which deals with the future of independent art institutions in times of socially engaged art and which expires at the end of August 2024, BAK is one of the most important and most committed partner organisations. BAK has acted as a role model for the project and its members. Our doctoral students have received significant impetus here and learnt how an art institution can work on the most topical social issues at the highest international level, both in terms of research and sensual aesthetics, and combine this with sustainable community work.

The concepts of “Instituting Otherwise” and “Living together Otherwise”, which Maria Hlavajova has developed with her team and artists such as Jeanne van Heeswijk, are more than just an important position in the discourse on the future of art institutions, at BAK we encounter them also as lived practices that are locally rooted. These concepts have not only been released by publishers with excellent academic reputations such as MIT Press, but BAK has also implemented these concepts and attitudes through its internationally renowned programme.

Against this background, we at Zeppelin University are cooperating with BAK in Utrecht with our new Master programme “Cultural Production & Cultural Policy - Master of Arts - Rethinking Arts, Culture & Curating for Democratic Civil Societies”.

How art institutions relate to community work, civic engagement and activist initiatives and cultural work on social cohesion is one of the major current issues facing forward-looking cultural institutions. BAK is regarded internationally as an absolute pioneer in this respect. We would therefore like to argue in favour of reconsidering the decision to withdraw funding from this very institution.

Miriam Brummelkamp
Ik steun jullie.
Raidan Shamsan, bak Young Fellow cohort 1, 2023-24
BAK was and remains for me a safe haven where I can experience and immerse myself in the local art culture of Utrecht, surrounded by interesting people and engaging conversations.

I first came to BAK as a "young fellow" in a winter education art program. I had the opportunity to create and display my work, but most importantly, I made new friends that I still cherish to this day.

Now, I am working there as an intern or rather as an alumni. They welcomed and guided me with open arms; through media and through production.

Many young people at my school now know about BAK and visit to explore the local visual arts culture and connect with the students and future artists of Utrecht.

It would be a real shame for the city of Utrecht to lose a cultural house like BAK, but most importantly, it would be a significant loss for the young people of Utrecht.

Juliaan van Buchem, leerling Anna van Rijn College, Utrecht
Voor mij is BAK een deur die openging. Een deur die telkens opnieuw open bleef gaan. Ik ben naar verschillende tentoonstellingen geweest die elke keer en nieuw licht gaven op verschillende onderwerpen. Zo ben ik naar de tentoonstelling geweest van “BAK young fellows”. Hier heb ik de ontwerpen gezien van jonge creatievelingen. Zij hadden super mooie dingen gemaakt over van alles. Van de situatie in China tot de belangen van je eigen gevoel.

Ik vind BAK een heel goed initiatief. Het inspireert mij om zelf ook creatief bezig te zijn. Door de internationaal gerichte tentoonstellingen krijg ik een beter zicht op de wereld om me heen. BAK helpt me om de stemmen te horen die je niet in het dagelijks leven tegenkomt.

BAK is een mooie broedplaats voor creativiteit en wereldkennis. Een zonde om te laten stoppen.

Roos Cornelissen, Utrecht
De jongerenexpositie van bak was mijn eerste kennismaking met kunst in Utrecht. Bak is een open creative plek die mij enthousiast maakte om meer te zien! Een erg fijne ervaring die mij verbonden liet voelen met de jongeren kunst gemeenschap.

Maoyi Qiu, BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice 2023/2024, Rotterdam
To whom it may concern,

I am writing to express my deep concern and to stand in solidarity with BAK (basis voor actuele kunst) in light of the recent recommendation to cut its funding for the 2025-2028 period. This decision threatens not only the survival of BAK but also the rich political and cultural significance that makes Utrecht a socially and intellectually stimulating city.

BAK is not just an art institution; it is a dynamic platform that brings together artists, thinkers, and members of civil society to discuss and create alternative ways of thinking and making action and contribution to the social change. It is at this platform, other cultural workers and I are able to have our idea and voice to be supported. The potential defunding of BAK is a decision that affects not only the institution but the broader cultural ecosystem of Utrecht, the Netherlands, and the international community.

I urgently request that you reconsider this recommendation. It is essential to recognize the profound impact that BAK has on fostering a culture of deep engagement and committed imagination. BAK's contributions are indispensable for nurturing a thriving, diverse, and socially engages environment in Utrecht and beyond.

I advocate for a decision that reflects the true value of culture and intellectual discourse in Utrecht. You decision in preserving an institution that plays a pivotal role in shaping a more inclusive and critically engaged society.

Thank you for your attention and consideration.

Cedric Riezebos, student Anna van Rijn College, Utrecht
Bak was voor mij de bevestiging dat kunst niet alleen in musea hangt en gemaakt is door meesters die niet meer leven, maar ook nu gemaakt wordt door jongeren zowel als ouderen. Hier kwam voor mij de realisatie bij dat kunst voor hen noodzakelijk is om zichzelf te uiten, en voor zij die ernaar kijken om zich in de kunst te vinden. Het verlies van een centrum als bak, om kunst te maken en te ondersteunen betekent het verlies van de ziel van deze mensen, voor zowel maker als toeschouwer.

Teresa Borasino, BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice 2023/2024, Amsterdam
Dear Members of the Utrecht City Council,

I am writing to express my profound shock and deep concern regarding the recent decision to withdraw funding from BAK, Basis voor Actuele Kunst, for the coming four years. This decision threatens to dismantle an institution that has been an essential pillar not only for the city of Utrecht but also for the Netherlands and the international community.

BAK is a beacon of critical inquiry, visionary thinking, collective learning, and community engagement. It stands as a laboratory for artistic experimentation and socially engaged practices, providing a unique space where diverse communities can come together to explore and rehearse life-affirming ways of living.

As a current fellow in the BAK Fellowship for Situated Practices, I can attest to the profound influence BAK has had on my artistic, research and personal development. Their post-academic fellowship program is unique in providing an impulse to artist-researchers to develop thought-provoking and critical projects with transformative power that will ripple widely beyond the duration of the program. BAK’s support has enriched my research and sharpened my vision in unparalleled ways.

The potential loss of BAK will have irreparable consequences. BAK nurtures critical approaches to art and politics, fosters solidarity, and welcomes diverse publics into its fold. These qualities are indispensable for maintaining a resilient and dynamic cultural ecosystem that extends far beyond Utrecht.

I urge you to reconsider this decision and continue supporting BAK. The institution’s role in promoting critical discourse, transformative learning, and a base for gathering and rehearsing new ways of being together is crucial in our current socio-political climate.

Adelita Husni Bey, New York
To whom it may concern at BAK. I would like to add my voice to the many voices which have expressed concern and dismay at the news of BAK's being stripped of crucial funding. I would like to share my professional and personal experience visiting and working with BAK over many years, as an exhibiting artist and as a workshop leader in the recent past.

Upon entering BAK I knew I was in a unique environment, and I don't mean unique just in terms of its existence in the Netherlands, but unique as an international institution, which has profoundly marked the life and work of many well respected artists globally, including my own. My first encounter with BAK was as a very young artist visiting from abroad, and having the pleasure of seeing an exhibit with John Palmesino which addressed the newly coined concept of the 'anthropocene'. It was there that I developed an entirely different view of the intersection between climate and human 'activities'. How valuable is a place that makes you see the world differently? How much money would you ascribe to an experience that changes the way you understand the world? Let me tell you that it is invaluable. By defunding BAK you are defunding critical culture, one of the last remaining ways in which we are invited to see and ultimately experience the world differently. Only with more awareness, with sharper tools, with added capacity is a society alive and able to generate better conditions for the many.

As an artist-worker I was treated with the utmost care and discernment, and I know this to be the case no matter how 'big or small' the artist in question is. I know care, integrity and real outreach to be foundational elements of BAK's work. I am always amazed at the boundary-breaking work BAK continues to do in the urban realm - with its deep and committed social relationships, mutual aid, mapping and engagement. As a workshop leader I had the pleasure of experiencing BAK's network in full, with attendees coming from all walks of life, certainly finding BAK one of the last cultural lifelines in the city. People come to BAK to study, meaning to deepen, evolve, create and BAK is an institution that fully delivers in every sense of that word.

My name is Adelita Husni Bey and I am an internationally renowned contemporary artist and pedagogue, who represented Italy at the 2017 Venice Biennale. I have been working in the field of art, with a focus on social engagement, for over 20 years and have taught and exhibited at some of the most prestigious universities and museums globally. I hope you take my testimony as a full endorsement of BAK's incredible breadth of interdisciplinary activities which have shaped and should continue to shape the lives of many artists and art-lovers worldwide. Especially in this particular historical period, where critical thinking could be one of the last tools we have to coexist and ameliorate the increasingly unlivable societies we find ourselves dwelling in.

Gluklya / Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya, Amsterdam
I think that action of government toward BAK is stupid and being a profound mistake will bring only negative distraction to people lives in the community . Also reducing the International recognition of the nice cosy city of Utrecht .

Stefan Wharton, Framer Framed, Amsterdam
BAK is als pionierende en vernieuwende presentatie-instelling in Utrecht een inspiratiebron voor onze organisatie Framer Framed. Alhoewel wij in een andere stad gevestigd zijn, volgen wij het programma op de voet. Van de langlopende onderzoeks- en fellowshipprojecten tot de kritische tentoonstellingen en lokale uitwisselingen tussen mensen vanuit verschillende disciplines uit de kunst en samenleving. We hopen dat de gemeente Utrecht in overweging neemt dat BAK een belangrijke rol speelt in ons veld van presentatie-instellingen en een inspiratie is voor velen van ons.

Marwa Arsanios, researcher, educator, and artist, Utrecht and Berlin.
Transcription
Hello, my name is Marwa Arsanios, and I'm an artist living in Berlin. I'm recording this short video in support of BAK institution in Utrecht. I'd like to start by saying that throughout the past year and a half, I have witnessed very closely the way BAK works with the local communities in Utrecht as well as in The Netherlands.

I have also witnessed the way the institution itself is shaped by all these different communities and people and the porousness of the institution towards the city. This is something that I had not experienced before in any other structure or any other institution I have worked with. I myself have been extremely influenced by all the program BAK has been putting together in the past decade or so.

And I have been also like extremely grateful for such an important critical space that have shaped critical art discourse and have also like a at the same time collaborated with so many different important institutions and artists in the international scene. I urge the city of Utrecht to reconsider the defunding of BAK.

Beatrice Cera, The Hague
I was profoundly disheartened reading about the recent choice taken by Gemeente Utrecht to stop funding the activities of your organisation.

We need places like BAK, we need places that understand their critical position within society and act consequently. As an art institution, BAK was for me one of the first examples of how artistic practices can be active agents for and with the communities they operate in. I admire BAK’s effort to be involved in initiatives beyond the walls of their exhibition space. To me it speaks of the capacity of an institution to make use of its privileged position to open up, to become a platform for other voices, to become a space for whom does not have space in the daily recurrence of news and information.

I hope with all my heart that the decision could be reversed and BAK will be able to continue its crucial work for the city of Utrecht and the many communities who so far could benefit from the active presence of the organisation.

Lucas van der Velden, Sonic Arts, Amsterdam
We were shocked to learn that the adviescommissie Cultuurnota 2025-2028 has recommended that the Utrecht city council discontinue its funding of BAK. BAK is a critical institution not just in Utrecht, but also in the Netherlands and around the world. Not only for makers, but also for fellow institutions such as Sonic Acts.
We need more BAK, not less!

Professor Mick Wilson, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
I have been a regular visitor to the city of Utrecht since 2006 when I first came to Utrecht as an external examiner for the HKU Master’s programmes. On that first visit I had the opportunity to see first-hand the incredible and unsurpassed work of BAK. Having previously only known BAK through its published works and profile as an internationally leading centre for artistic, intellectual and critical experimentation, it was such a remarkable experience to directly experience the vibrancy, urgency and enormous energy of BAK.

Since that time, I have visited Utrecht several times each year in order to visit BAK, and I have come to understand BAK as the epitome of the cultural life and identity of the city. The intellectual and cultural life of Utrecht has been defined globally through its premier public institutions of BAK and the University of Utrecht. Like many of my international colleagues, I have come to experience BAK as the most important contemporary art destination in the Netherlands and a vital core infrastructure of the cultural and intellectual life of the city.

Through BAK’s extraordinary ambitious and dedicated work I have come into contact with so many different communities within the city of Utrecht and encountered many other cultural platforms both public and independent. I have come to understand BAK as the hub and interface between multiple communities and multiple disciplines within the city.

Through BAK, I like many of my colleagues, have come to understand the global importance of the work of leading Netherlands’ artists such as Jonas Staal and of leading Netherland’s theorists and educators such as Sven Lütticken. As a regular visitor to BAK, and as an educator and researcher I have benefitted enormously from BAK’s locally-situated and globally-impactful programme of innovative commissioning and programming. Vitally important contributions such as Former West, New World Academy, and Trainings for the Not Yet have positioned BAK and the city of Utrecht at the centre of international networks of the most important artistic and intellectual communities, and have led the way in demonstrating the social power of contemporary art. Through the extraordinary activist engagement of an artistic programme such as Jeanne van Heeswijk’s Trainings For the Not Yet, we have seen previously under-served communities within the public culture of Utrecht come to have a voice in the cultural life of the city on their own terms. More than that, through the civic agency of BAK such communities have become dialogue partners with leading national and international artists and intellectuals, thereby contributing to reshape the current debates on community, identity, belonging, and on the possibility of shared civic life. In a time of extraordinary division in the public sphere, and a profound loss of civic vision, BAK has demonstrated the possibility of cultural and intellectual encounter across multiple societal divisions.

I, like anyone else who sincerely cares for the cultural and intellectual life and identity of the city of Utrecht, and who cares for the vital role of art in contemporary society, must stand in solidarity with BAK.

De Voorkamer, Utrecht
De Voorkamer wants to express it’s concern regarding the total funding cut (cultuurnota 2025/2028) of BAK - basis voor actuele kunst. We see a great value in the work that BAK sets out with great dedication:

BAK connects De Voorkamer to an engaged and critical community and to new allies.

By committing to hosting us and collaborating with us we manage to bring different ecosystems together. The Community Portal has stimulated exchange of knowledge and sharing of celebration between audiences of De Voorkamer and BAK.

Bak supports De Voorkamer’s community. By hosting and sharing their facilities we are able to organise with and for a larger and more diverse groups of people.

By bringing international established artists to the context of Utrecht, BAK stimulates learning moments with local communities and makers, an exposure that not so many places in Utrecht can offer.

Pip Day
After a decade of following the discursive work taking place at BAK, I finally traveled to Utrecht last month for the Usufructuaries convention with Marwa Arsanios. This event was incredibly generative, reinforcing the strategies of solidarity - in the arts and beyond - that are so essential in these fraught historical times.

BAK consistently builds discursive infrastructures that are incredibly useful tools in the struggles of artists and cultural workers around the world. BAK has been a beacon for my work within institutions for at least the last decade.

Marie Stel, Valkhof Museum, Nijmegen
Ever since I got to know BAK during my study Art History in Utrecht it has been an important factor in the local and national art scene, as well as in my own network of art institutions.

The work BAK has done and the critical stance it has taken in artistic and societal debates is of great importance. It would be a grave mistake to stop the funding of such an important institution.

Paula Montecinos Oliva, Amsterdam
I am writing to express my deep concern and solidarity with BAK, Basis voor Actuele Kunst, following the Utrecht municipality's decision to withdraw funding from this vital institution. This decision is disorientating for many of us, as BAK has been a cornerstone for community building and a significant cultural reference on an international scale, for many years.

BAK is not just an art institution; it is a dynamic space where communities form and flourish. As an artist living in the Netherlands, I have witnessed firsthand how it fosters connections among diverse groups, bringing critical thought and imagination into practice. BAK's discursive public program is a thought-provoking space that activates socially engaged propositions, bringing together people from various backgrounds and contexts to collaborate, share knowledge. Currently, as a fellow in the BAK Fellowship for Situated Practices, I have experienced the profound impact of this program on my artistic career and personal growth. The intellectual and artistic environment at BAK has enriched my research perspective in ways I could not have encountered independently. Meeting artists and researchers from around the world has broadened my horizons and strengthened my practice. This inclusive environment is crucial for maintaining a vibrant and relevant art community on both a local and international level.

The potential loss of BAK is not just a local issue but a blow to the global cultural landscape. BAK is a space that nurtures critical approaches to art and politics, promotes solidarity and friendship, and remains open to diverse publics. These qualities are essential for fostering a resilient and dynamic cultural ecosystem.

BAK research and working environment is about creating a community where individuals can thrive and collaborate. This is why I urge you to reconsider the decision to cut BAK's funding. The institution’s role in Utrecht’s artistic, cultural, and social ecosystem is irreplaceable, and its loss would be felt internationally.

In hope of a future full of friendship, creativity, and cultural exchange

Ayça Yüksel, BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice 2023/2024, Istanbul
17 June 2024
Dear Members of the Utrecht Advisory Committee on the Culture Memorandum 2025–2028,

I am writing this letter to express my deepest solidarity with BAK following the devastating decision to reject BAK’s funding proposal. I was absolute shoch that we learned of the desicion to withdraw fundind from BAK in 2025. Why was I shocked? I'm generally used to such things happening in Turkey. Unfortunately.

I am one of the fellows at BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice 2023/2024. I am an independent, precarious researcher, and doctoral candidate living in Istanbul, Turkey. Through the BAK fellowship, I found the financial support that I could not find in my own country, Turkey. Thanks to BAK, I have been able to continue my research and sustain my life over the past year. It is incredibly difficult to find in Turkey that this kind of solidaristic, collaborative, alternative, political, and experimental academic and artistic environment, financial support, and independent discussion space that BAK has created. This is a very rare and invaluable collaboration. That’s why I must say that the value and significance of this are immense for me.

Moreover, the support I received from BAK goes far beyond financial assistance. It introduced me to an intellectual and artistic environment and ways of thinking that I would not have been able to encounter on my own. Meeting different artists and researchers from both the Netherlands and other parts of the world, as well as from my own country (from İstanbul to Ankara and İzmir), has enriched my personal horizons and perspectives in every way.

For independent researchers and artists like us, the support of institutions like BAK, which offer a collaborative and artistic alternative perspective and space, is vital and essential. BAK provides financial and artistic support and creates an environment for individual or collective researchs and artistic work, not only locally but also in other parts of the world, making it even more valuable.

Therefore, I am writing this letter to request the reversal of the decision to cut BAK's local funding support. BAK supports and sustains us. Please continue to keep it alive.

I hope you reconsider your decision.

Doris Denekamp, kunstenaar, activist, docent en voormalig kunststudent aan de HKU, Utrecht
Dit is een oproep aan de gemeente Utrecht: Stop de subsidie aan BAK niet!! Het stopzetten van de steun zal een zware vergissing blijken, die een gat zal slaan in het culturele landschap van Utrecht en ver daar buiten. In mijn studententijd aan de HKU, en later aan het Dutch Art Institute, is BAK een belangrijke bron van kennis en ervaring voor mij geweest. Hier heb ik geleerd dat kunst een krachtig gereedschap is in het vormgeven van een betere samenleving. Of zoals Maria Hlavajova zegt: "to be together otherwise". Op dit moment, midden in een klimaat- én politieke crisis, hebben we de stemmen die zich verzamelen bij BAK meer nodig dan ooit tevoren. Juist nu moet BAK steun ontvangen. Het kan niet anders!

Hanieh Fatouraee, BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice 2023/2024, Istanbul
A Letter of Solidarity with BAK, basis voor actuele kunst

For many years a great number of cultural workers including myself have been following BAK as an important institution that hosts critical artistic programs including the Fellowship for Situated Practice. As one of the fellows of 2023-24, this program has been a crucial part of my artistic career and has provided me and the others with many intellectual encounters. The Fellowship has provided all of us with meaningful connections and many opportunities. As an Iranian living in Turkey, it has brought me a unique experience that I am grateful for. It has led me to work with like-minded artists from around the world, provided me a possibility to exhibit in Utrecht and get acquainted with the cultural scene of the Netherlands.

BAK has undoubtedly put Utrecht as a city on the global cultural map. It is one of the best-known institutions that hosts artistic research projects and critically engaged programs. This is very rare in the art scene, thus very valuable.

It is with great disappointment to hear that BAK as a space full of opportunities for a community of cultural practitioners not only from Utrecht but from around the world, will be cut from its financial support. This is most definitely a huge loss for the community and will lead to limitations for BAK’s curatorial vision and its support of critically important research and art. This specific financial cut has become a global and local concern, not only in terms of materiality but of intellectual value.

Today, in this difficult political climate, Utrecht is even more in need of institutions like BAK, that create a platform for the freedom of speech and critical thinking.

I hope that this letter of solidarity will help with understanding the importance of BAK as an institution in Utrecht and will be a step to reconsider the support that goes towards it.

Thank you for your time,
Hanieh Fatouraee

Henk Slager, curator, writer, and former dean of Utrecht Graduate School of Visual Art and Design (MaHKU), Amsterdam
In more than twenty years of collaboration with BAK, I have come to know this institution as a constructive and inspiring partner that thinks (with us) about critical and future models for art education and artistic research. In this area, BAK develops internationally leading projects and activities that are extremely significant for the further development of the discourse. BAK’s current focus on other forms of imagination provides an obvious necessity that underlines that it is now up to artistic research to develop scenarios that provide different answers to the planetary urgencies and forms of social injustice that the world is confronted with today. A possible loss of this structural partner will lead to an inevitable impoverishment of the (Utrecht) art climate and an irreparable damage to the cultural infrastructure.

Fabiola Fiocco, PhD researcher and curator, Edinburgh College of Art
I read with dismay and disappointment about the Gemeente Utrecht's decision to defund BAK and the rationale behind it. The art system has always been an unstable field, requiring both resources and time to properly undertake initiatives that are going to have genuine impact, as well as to engage in forms of imagination and world-building beneficial to local as much as transnational reference contexts. I first got to know BAK in 2015 while studying in the Master of Museology programme at Reinwardt Academies in Amsterdam. I was immediately drawn to BAK's radical and transdisciplinary approach to art, which sought to go beyond the modernist idea of exhibition space, experimenting with other methodologies of knowledge production and circulation.

In 2022, I returned as a visiting researcher as part of the European programme FEINART, with BAK serving as one of the cultural partners. This two-month stay was a critical time of discussion and research. I not only encountered a stimulating and cutting-edge institution, but also a welcoming and supportive environment that was open and receptive to all forms of intervention and interaction. BAK has been my point of reference for learning about the art and social scene in Utrecht and the Netherlands. I have seen difficult but necessary exhibitions and projects that avoided quick solutions by meticulously and thoughtfully approaching complex issues and topics. I have come across brilliant and passionate individuals and groups, whether as part of the staff or among its visitors, fellows, allies, and constituents.

The Gemeente's assessment of BAK failing to be rooted in and contributing to the city and arts ecosystem of Utrecht, appals me and makes me wonder what sort of contribution is being alluded to, and what criteria continue to be applied in a constantly shifting sector. What better contribution can there be than being in constant connection with the city, providing a space for all those subjectivities and communities who are often excluded from hegemonic notions of citizenship and civic duty. What model of cultural production and what idea of the city are we aiming to encourage if we decide to stop supporting spaces like BAK, a community of people committed to practicing other forms of social and cultural participation, questioning the basic tenets of communal living, sharing resource and capacities. Amidst an economic and political climate that perpetuates mechanisms of dispossession, colonisation, and authoritarianism, there is a growing demand for spaces that can offer resistance and relief.

Withdrawing financial resources not only leads to reducing the size of operations, but also causes the interruption of processes that include a wide range of individuals, experts, and communities. It means undermining an extensive work of building and nourishing connections and trust, as well as tangible infrastructures, hindering significant processes of research and discussion. I experienced first-hand the wealth of knowledges, relationships, exchanges, and practices that permeate and shape BAK's programme and daily operations, in the meeting room as much as in the communal kitchen. I also saw the organization's diligence and dedication as a part of the FEINART network, a commitment carried out with fairness, punctuality and a spirit of cooperation and which once again positioned Utrecht and its socio-cultural landscape within a dense network of exchanges and collaborations. I can only restate my support for BAK, for the model of art and society it promotes, and urge for a reconsideration of the decision.

Aernout Mik, Artist, Amsterdam
BAK is een uniek fenomeen in het lokale, nationale én internationale culturele landschap. Bak versmelt beeldende kunst met onderwijs, research en sociale actie. Door deze disciplines systematisch met elkaar te vervlechten, blijft BAK innovatief en relevant op zowel academisch, artistiek en maatschappelijk niveau. Van samenwerkingen in de lokale gemeenschap van Utrecht tot gespecialiseerd onderzoek en debat op nationaal en internationaal niveau. BAK biedt de ruimte voor ontmoeting en vormt een brug tussen Utrecht en de nationale en internationale culturele gemeenschap. De lokale geworteldheid van BAK én haar brede reikwijdte is juist zo zinvol omdat BAK de kunstwereld uit haar gesloten circuit haalt, niet als een vorm van consumptie maar als een gezamenlijk maatschappelijk project waar iedereen op haar manier aan kan deelnemen. Om via de verbeelding, onderzoek en open discussie een betere wereld te creeeren Wat kan een betrokken politiek anders wensen, ondersteun ze!

Sumugan Sivanesan, Maastricht
I was very disappointed to hear of the defunding advice. I do not live in Maastricht and I first heard of BAK when I was studying in Australia, 2009–15. In Sydney I connected to BAK via it’s publicatons which are important documents about the potential of art in society. Since moving to Europe in 2017 I have attended several events, workshops and exhibitions and have always been struck by its deep engagement with the community in Utrecht and also its capacity to build networks and connect artists, activists and thinkers from around world. BAK has been a key institution in developing contemporary critical art through modes of exhibition and presentation, publication and pedagogy. For many of us, it is the only reason we know of Utrecht. I can’t think of another institution quite like BAK!

I do hope Utrecht Advisory Committee on the Culture Memorandum will reconsider their advice and continue to support BAK.

Marie Civikov, Artist and initiator Æther Haga, The Hague
Especially in these times, where the fascist wind of intolerance blows louder than it did in 1930, it’s almost not a surprise that the advice on BAK’s further existence turned out negative. In this, the title of the report “Kleur bekennen”, sounds telling.

Just last weekend I attended the event, “Day for Palestine”, co-organized by BAK. Here people from different communities were brought together to discuss and listen to each other on this topic. Additionally, being together was an important element in itself, in times when many of us feel lost. The connection that was made here with Phil Collins' video work, programmed by BAK, made this experience unique in terms of actual engagement with one another, which is often talked about within the arts, but in fact is rarely made as concrete as it worked out that well here. This event showed, it is actually possible as an art institution to become part of society, and thus exceed the facilitative function. It is sad to conclude that this is a uniqueness in today's cultural landscape, all the more so because, as BAK states: “We will need each other now more than ever”, is an absolute truth these days.

Diana McCarty, Professor of Time Based Media and Performance, HfG Karlsruhe
To whom it may concern:

As a former fellow and direct beneficiary of the fantastic programming of BAK I'm shocked to learn of any plans to cut rather than increase funding for such an important space of idea making in Utrecht. I strongly support the continued support for this unique arts initiative that brings the world home to Utrecht.

As a professor of Time Based Media and Performance at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, I can also attest to what BAK means for students at the University of the Arts Utrecht (HKU) and other students I encounter through ERASMUS exchanges. The world and Utrecht can be otherwise and BAK is core to opening up that reflective imagination of young and old world-makers. We live in terrible times and must cherish all those spaces that offer more options for being in the world.

Again, as a citizen, artist, professor, I strongly state my support for maintaining BAK with the hopes of future collaborations and the possibility for more exchanges.

eipcp - european institute for progressive cultural policies
Several members of the european institute for progressive cultural policies - eipcp have been collaborating with BAK in various constellations over the last two decades. BAK is a hallmark
international art institution with a singular expertise in critically working at the intersection of art and theory. Over the years, BAK has
developed highly innovative formats for local community engagement through educational programming and can be considered exemplary in its transformative social and cultural policies.

The entire eipcp-team expresses its full solidarity with BAK as one of Europe's most innovative independent art institutions.

Siwar Kraitem, BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice 2023/2024, Amsterdam
Dear community and Utrecht municipality,

I am writing this letter to emphasize my utmost solidarity with BAK after the devastating decision to not fulfill BAK’s funding proposal.

BAK is an institution that has created such a profound sense of community and belonging for me, as an artist and designer since moving to the Netherlands almost 4 years ago. It has proved to be time and time again a safe space and an open space where support is offered and important political and sensitive discussions are welcomed.

After knowing BAK as an institution which invited relevant and important global artists, enriching the Dutch cultural scene with very needed openness to new narratives, I joined BAK as a fellow in October 2023. The fellowship at BAK has provided me with immense support and a space to meet like-minded researchers and artists. It has not only enabled exchange with Dutch-based artists, but also broadened the horizon to connect with artists and thinkers from Turkey. Despite being from Lebanon, where Turkey is geographically and culturally closer, it was only through BAK that I was able to foster connections and meet artists from Turkey.

BAK has challenged conventional approaches to education and positioned itself as an educational institution, open and accessible to all.

I urge you to reconsider your decision to not fund BAK which has been so integral in creating a home in Utrecht and beyond, not only to me as
a Dutch-based artist, but to many. It is an institution of irreplaceable value, a brave avant-garde community leader, and a propeller of forward-thinking endeavors which is needed more than ever.

Thank you for your consideration.
With solidarity,
Siwar Kraitem

Gülşah Özgen and Sıla Bozdeveci, BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice 2023/2024, Diyarbakır and Izmir
Dear Members of the Utrecht Advisory Commitee on the Culture Memorandum 2025–2028

We are two researchers and culture workers, Gulsah Ozgen and Sıla Bozdeveci, from Turkey. As a collective called adaptör.projekt, we joined the fellowship program in 2023-2024.

BAK is very valuable as it seeks to create opportunities beyond institutions for researchers and artists and expand these opportunities internationally. It opens up an important area for scholars and creatives who are living and working in Turkey and Utrecht.

While everything in the world is going hard and challenging enough, we recognize that BAK's inclusive approach makes room for art and culture workers in the most difficult times. Therefore, we want to show our struggle and solidarity against these policies of isolation and disregard.

We are thankful to the BAK for the experience of an alternative form of alliance to reveal the political objectives of dominant structures. During this program, we strive to create spaces of autonomy and solidarity and explore alternative ways of being and doing together that we acknowledge. Beyond these activities, it provided us with a critical perspective and opportunities for collaboration. BAK’s presence and approach provided us with the critical imagination and space to think deeply. It has made us recognize the increased potential to form a collective praxis that includes individuals, groups, organizations, and municipalities while being in a global art and culture world.

BAK stands out for several reasons, but perhaps most fundamentally for its ability to host and unite diverse groups. In our fellowship, we have the privilege of spending time with international fellows, engaging with different cultural spaces, and collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds who are developing projects using BAK's facilities and mentorship. We stand in solidarity with BAK, supporting their efforts and resistance. Their expanding collaborations are a testament to their inclusive and impactful approach.

Boudewijn Loois
BAK (Basis voor Actuele Kunst) is erg belangrijk voor Utrecht en de culturele sector. Het biedt een plek waar kunst en maatschappelijke kwesties samenkomen, en helpt zo om de cultuur en diversiteit van de stad te versterken. BAK brengt mensen samen en stimuleert nieuwe ideeën, wat bijdraagt aan een levendige en betrokken gemeenschap in Utrecht.

Nathalie Hartjes, freelance writer, curator, advisor, Rotterdam
In my twenty years of working in the visual arts in the Netherlands, I have regarded BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, as an important constant, a necessary pillar in the field. The contribution BAK makes to a critical and socially engaged art discourse, I see reflected in the field through the work of the many who, in part because of their involvement with BAK, are encouraged, given a place, and taken further into the world. It is short-sighted to measure BAK's impact solely by its own attendance figures; BAK is part of the theoretical and substantive backbone of the Dutch arts field and inspires.

Nicoline van Harskamp
The video PDGN was comissioned and exhibited by BAK in 2016. As I write this, I am in Paris to prepare to show PDGN at Kadist, a space directed by former BAK curator Julia Morandeira Arrizabalaga. After more than 2 decades, all ways of practice and thought lead back to BAK in some way. It is a major node in a huge network spanning the local, national and global, that can’t function without it. Don’t be short sighted, don’t destroy what was built for us and by us all!

Carina Jansen, Utrecht
Thank you for reaching out and for the platform to speak to the devastating news that the municipality would want to cut the funding of such an essential space.

The world can be a very scary place, and there are few art institutions that can create communal gatherings that benefit the communities where they reside. BAK has engaged with the community and allowed so many unheard voices to come to the forefront. It can function both as an academic and activist space.

As an international student who had to make her home in Utrecht, a city that can be beautiful but daunting to newcomers, it has been a refuge.

As a student at the HKU I also appreciate the opportunities given to me through the relationship between BAK and the HKU. I wonder what would my experience of exhibiting, workshops, fellowships etc etc have been at the university had BAK not been there and welcomed us with open arms. BAK is not only a landmark in Utrecht but I would argue in the Netherlands as well.

To be honest, seeing that there is so much support and need for spaces like BAK, to not continue fund it would be to admit that the municipality does not care for the people within its own community. And that is a very scary, very dangerous way to go, in these times.

Betül Aksu, BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice 2023/2024, Izmir and Istanbul
I’m an artist based in between Izmir and Istanbul, and a 2023/2024 fellow within the BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice. The fellowship has introduced new worlds to me, the worlds I wouldn’t have witnessed otherwise. It created an artistic environment in which difficult topics of our time could be discussed towards making new proposals that have actual impact on our shared freedom. Witnessing BAK’s dedication to create spaces for conversation makes me believe that art can initiate new ways of living. Without BAK’s programme of events, there would be less space for negotiation, which has the potential to narrow down a city’s perspective into one way of thinking and doing. I see the report from the Utrecht Advisory Committee that proposes to defund BAK in 2025-2028 as a great loss, both locally and globally. Locally, as it would stop new perspectives to be spread through BAK within Utrecht and the Netherlands, globally as it would stop the possibilities to initiate and sustain a global network of people who work towards being together radically.

Nicole Immler, Prof. Historical Memory and Transformative Justice at the University of Humanistic Studies (UvH), Utrecht
What devastating news. I am happy to support; hopefully it has some impact.

For me BAK gives an international face to art and culture in Utrecht. Your exhibitions bring theoretical debates and empirical reality together in a fascinating ways on crucial topics such as the human condition, human rights, ecology and justice. The long-term commitment you have to develop networks and interdisciplinary knowledge on specific themes such as 'repair' is admirable. You are a place of learning for students, teachers and culture/art audiences alike.

Mitchel Breed, namens Stichting Das Spectrum, Utrecht
"Als Stichting Das Spectrum sluiten wij ons aan bij de steun aan BAK, dat al jaren een unieke rol vervult in het culturele ecosysteem van Utrecht. Verschillende generaties kunstenaars en andere belangstellenden hebben voor de ontwikkeling van hun artistiek-politieke bewustzijn kunnen putten uit de rijke programmering van de afgelopen decennia. BAK heeft de maatschappelijke functie van kunst, die recent meer gemeengoed is geworden, altijd benadrukt en aangejaagd.

Kunstenaarsinitiatieven van vroeger, nu en in de toekomst kunnen voortbouwen op het door BAK gestimuleerde besef dat wij allemaal – vanuit de verbeelding die in de hedendaagse politiek lijkt te ontbreken - kunnen bijdragen aan het verbeelden, invoelbaar maken en verspreiden van een alternatief wereldbeeld. Het streven naar ‘een betere wereld’ lijkt abstract of ongrijpbaar, maar BAK heeft het altijd dichter binnen handbereik geprobeerd te brengen en te houden – niet in de laatste plaats door de verbinding op te zoeken met de meest uiteenlopende gemeenschappen en opleidingen in de stad.

Of je nu een (oud-)kraker, een HKU-student of een pas begonnen ontwerpcollectief bent: nu vergezichten van een gelijkwaardige en duurzame samenleving in de Haagse politiek verder weg lijken dan ooit, hebben we allemaal behoefte aan de nabijheid van culturele instellingen die ons eraan helpen herinneren dat wij bij uitstek zélf het verschil kunnen maken. Alleen al daarom moet een instelling als BAK deel blijven van cultuur in Utrecht, als blijvende reminder aan die ene vraag die ze ons twintig jaar geleden al eens stelden. Who if not we should at least try to imagine the future of all this?"

Veel sterkte en succes met de strijd tegen dit negatieve advies vanuit de Gemeente!

Katia Krupennikova, Utrecht
With shock, sorrow, and strong resentment, I witnessed the withdrawal of funding from BAK, Basis voor Actuele Kunst, Utrecht by Gemeente Utrecht. Since my first visit to BAK as a student in 2011, it has stood out as a visionary and special place within the Dutch cultural landscape. I’ve always found it remarkable that such a place isn’t in a big city like Amsterdam or Rotterdam, but in Utrecht, a vibrant city known for its progressive politics and one of the best universities in the country. Utrecht can be proud of BAK as an outstanding part of its infrastructure. BAK is a unique space that not only connects art and academia but also generously devotes its resources to making a tangible change in society. BAK cares about Utrecht, it embodies political action: it regularly hosts diverse communities in Utrecht, and supports people in precarious positions. The connections BAK has built over 25 years with local communities in Utrecht and with the world are precious and irreplaceable.

As a lecturer at HKU MA Fine Art, I’m grateful to BAK for being our main partner, contributing to knowledge production, sharing, and exchange. It’s incredibly enriching for students to be part of BAK during the academic year, especially when BAK annually opens its doors to us, providing facilities for our community—students, teachers, and alumni—hosting our graduation shows and other events. I was a fellow at BAK in 2019-2020 and experienced a lot of understanding and support despite the challenges of Covid-19, and I can testify that BAK pays its employees and contributors fairly. As a future student in the Art and Society MA program at the University of Utrecht, I mourn the very idea of losing BAK as a source of learning.

If BAK is destroyed (and this is what is done by removing the funding), it cannot be restored. I strongly believe that closure of BAK will be a significant loss for the city of Utrecht. So much labor from so many people has been invested in this institution, and many resources from Gemeente Utrecht itself have supported BAK over the past 25 years. It’s easy to destroy infrastructures, but building and maintaining such a place as BAK takes true dedication.

Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Rotterdam
in solidariteit met BAK en als ondersteuning voor het voortbestaan van deze onmisbare plek in Utrecht!

een absolute shock dat de gemeente Utrecht adviseert plotseling alle steun voor BAK terug te trekken. een onbegrijpelijke beslissing na jaren van steun aan dit belangrijke knooppunt van lokale en internationale discoursen, waar ik de ontwikkelingen in hedendaagse kunst en ideeën over de mogelijkheid tot een andere, en redelijkere wereld heb ervaren en meegenomen. een stad kan niet zonder dit soort centra van uitwisseling, ideevorming en leerprocessen op hoog niveau, zoals BAK het altijd heeft gebracht. de ideeën verspreiden zich vanuit daar weer en worden deel van een groter geheel. het is belangrijk dat het lokale gevoed wordt door het internationale, en ik ben zeker dat het omgekeerde net zo goed gebeurt.

als bezoeker, als luisteraar, als meelezer en als meespreker, als maker en als fellow heb ik bijna twintig jaar al BAK gevolgd, van het aanbod geleerd en ben erdoor beïnvloed. ik kan me niet voorstellen dat deze mogelijkheid anderen ontnomen zou worden door een verlies van de ondersteuning door de stad Utrecht.

BAK moet blijven!

Eva Ďurovec, cultural worker, Košice and Berlin
I have been following and learning from BAK for several years now, because it gives us tremendous inspiration and hope to reflect on possible futures, it gives us understanding, empathy and caring, it gives us community and belonging. How I am observing the destruction of the art institutions and their transformation into a kind of model of folk art, universal or comforting art, with a particular focus on destroying forms of political, critical or otherwise uncomfortable works and workers.

BAK has a huge role in the contemporary art world, it is one of the few islands and I think it is absolutely important that it continues to exist.

Please don't jeopardize the running of this essential institution.

--

PS: dear BAK
Never missed an opportunity to buy your wonderful books,

I keep my fingers crossed for you,
long live BAK!!!

Enis Köstepen, Irmak Karasu, Alev Ersan, Varduhi Balyan. BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice 2023/2024, Istanbul
As a group of artists based in Istanbul, we have been following BAK's publications, exhibitions, community programs and fellowship programs for a long time. In 2023, with our acceptance to the BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice 2023/2024, we had the great opportunity to become part of the BAK Fellows community.

BAK's vision of connecting like-minded artists in Istanbul and those in Utrecht has led to collaborations and conversations that we couldn't have imagined within our own artistic practices. We now have a much clearer understanding of the creative potential of the artist community we are part of.

The kind of intellectual, political and artistic discussion that BAK allows is unique in unleashing these collaborations and conversations. BAK offers a unique combination of intellectual rigor, artistic freedom, and experimentation with political imaginaries. This is a very rare and invaluable combination that is built into the vision of BAK.

As a space built to contribute to the construction of a world free of oppression and exploitation, BAK should be protected and supported. We find it inappropriate, to say the least, that funding could be cut on the basis of "local impact". BAK is necessary for the future of art, politics and intellectuals around the world. We no longer live by the criteria of 'local impact. We are confident that the city of Utrecht has the capacity to evaluate the global impact of the BAK. The city of Utrecht should continue to value and support a space that cares about the world and strives for an effective fusion of activism, art and intellectualism across borders. BAK is a model institution that will inspire and support many people in the future.

We urge the city of Utrecht to continue to support this critically important space for artistic, intellectual and political debate, which is so necessary to find ways to resist the various waves of trouble we are facing in today's world.

Simone Di Rubbo, Utrecht
Over de laste paar jaren, heb ik BAK door workshoppen en evenementen aan het grensvlak van kunst en sociaal activisme leren kennen.

Door deze initiatieven heb ik gezien hoe BAK ruimte creëerde om locale initiatieven in een globale milieu te contextualiseren en om kunst te zien als catharsis voor problemen die invloed op ons allemaal hebben.

De vermindering van de financiering van BAK ontneemt de chance om een andere lens te hebben om de realiteit te interpreteren en begrijpen, om kunst minder als “content” en meer als en manier om een mening te geven als andere manieren niet genoeg zijn.

David Muñoz-Alcántara, HfG Karlsruhe Guest Professor, Helsinki University Postdoctoral Researcher
It is striking to read your message about the funding cut threatening BAK’s labor continuity. This reflects on the growing panorama of a global fascist offensive, and it is not coincidental that an institution that has been in the vanguard for mobilizing non-fascist and otherwise life alternatives through the art is now at risk.
As a former BAK fellow, international researcher, educator, and art worker, I assert that the uniqueness and quality of BAK’s work – and the practices it cultivates and brings together– contribute at large to the deep trans-disciplinary understanding of the present eco-social crisis. BAK has proven to be a key node for assembling practitioners and debates that strive to grow democratic and transformative approaches to global injustices. The value of critical art must be understood as an investment in everyone's future, as it helps to envision and grow plural alternatives to the present capitalist-driven devastation. The threat that BAK is currently facing is not isolated. This threatening wound will certainly bleed beyond Utrecht’s cultural ecosystem. This cut will represent a loss to the construction of societal accountability in Europe and to the emancipatory capacity of art.
My message joins the collective urge for Utrecht Municipality to review its decision and warranty the continuity of BAK’s valuable work and existence.

Society should continue to insist on a world that could be otherwise!

Tom Holert, co-founder Harun Farocki Institut, Berlin
I have been a fan of BAK from the very first contact onwards. It also
needs disclosing that I have cooperated with BAK at several occasions
over time, as curator, lecturer, co-editor. Not only have I felt very
much at home at every moment of these collaborations, I also experienced
an atmosphere of intense intellectual, social and political commitment,
regarding all levels of the work done. Utrecht developed into one of my
favorite destinations, and friends have heard me marveling, again and
again, about the genius loci of the place that is largely due to the
existence of such ambitiously conceived, programmed and lived spaces of
art and knowledge production such as BAK (as well as Casco, HKU, several
departments of Utrecht University, etc.). I am particularly impressed by
the vigorous fashion in which the BAK staff and its network is
constantly questioning and probing the notions and premises on which an
institution located inside as well as outside of the art world and the
academic field should be operating, taking very seriously their own call
to “instituting otherwise”. Thus, almost in passing—subtly, but
significantly—BAK is continuously changing the ways in which cultural
production is being conceived. This said, BAK does not provide simple
answers to the political, social, or environmental urgencies at hand,
its progressivism is hinged on complexification, rather than reduction.
BAK is thus a stark antipode to populist politics that pretend to have
these answers. Therefore, the Gemeente Utrecht commission’s arguments
for discontinuing the long-time funding strike me as disingenuous. They
are not based on a critique of program and method, much to the contrary,
but solely based on issues of turn-out that are notoriously being
mobilized to raze cultural players that refuse to obey to a neoliberal
(or worse) agenda. Cultural relevance and reputation are hardly
quantifiable, but knowing BAK’s professional and self-critical attitude
towards its own role in the city and its responsibility with regard to
local communities and audiences, I am shocked by the commission’s
verdict that, should it be confirmed, will sensibly damage Utrecht’s
position in the national and international contemporary cultural scenes.

Jhudo Arends, BAK Young Fellow 2023-24
I was sixteen when I worked at young fellows at bak, at the time I didn’t know what role I wanted art en activism to have in my life. At bak I workt with amazing artists and learned that art had many different forms and functions, and can help en inspire people. At bak I learned about all the thinks that art can be and I learned things that I will take with me for the rest of my life.

Utrecht needs a place like bak because art in every form should be available to everyone.

Nex Straatmeijer, van BAK young fellows 2024
BAK heeft mij de kans gegeven om ervaring op te doen en mijn creativiteit te uiten. Het heeft mij hoop gegeven voor mijn toekomst als kunstenaar en ik zou willen dat anderen dit ook mogen ervaren. Daarom vind ik dat het budget van BAK niet weggenomen mag worden omdat het een essentiële basis is voor (jonge) kunstenaars. Ook is het van cultureel belang dat kunst niet alleen toegankelijk is via musea maar ook via instanties zoals BAK.

Iris van der Tuin, Utrecht University
BAK is a crucial base for art-theory inter- and intra-connecting both in Utrecht, nationally and internationally. I write “inter” and “intra” because not only does BAK collaborate with theorists but also does BAK do and stimulate theory, perhaps most prominently so. As a theorist of cultural inquiry I can say that BAK is not only a partner for my work but also an important beacon in theory formation, change and circulation. In Summer 2023 I organized a Summer School at BAK. The title of the school – Supervising Artistic and Practice-based Research – perhaps hides the fact that institutional critique and creativity was the impetus of our conversations as well as we spoke about the importance of radical pedagogy for understanding and addressing today’s multiple and intersecting crisis. Participants were all institutionalized supervisors in between art institutions, art schools and universities. They came from Utrecht, Dutch and European universities and from all other continents. The fact that the discussions tool place at BAK, where these discussions have a history, a present and a future has so much added value and a grounding effect that once again I was alerted by colleagues how BAK is, indeed, a crucial base. Currently I am running, with colleagues from Utrecht University, the Artistic Leadership in Culture course at BAK. Having art, practice and leadership around while discussing it is of utmost importance for the growth of both participants and members of the teaching team. I simply cannot grasp the very suggestion that BAK may not be financed by gemeente Utrecht.

Ola Hassanain, artist and architect, Utrecht
Transcription voicememo
BAK was the first institution that really offered me an opportunity to sink and ponder on what I wanted the possibilities for my art practice to look like. And whom would I be working with? It offered so much... assistance and awareness also about discourse building within art... art practices about reimagining, you know, also these possibilities within art practice. And I think these are things that, you know, they stayed in my practice.

When I was given the fellowship, after I just graduated from a master's degree in... in... in fine art at the HKU in Utrecht this was a huge, I think also kind of push and I think, Maria... Maria and BAK, they, you know, they took a risk with that. And that was something that I will forever be grateful for, because they took a risk for someone who had just made the transition into an art scene from an architectural background, but also was... was in a student capacity for a year into a sort of fellowship... capacity and that trust, it was the biggest investment that... that... I could have asked for at that stage of my practice. And BAK gave me that.

Oleksiy Radynski, filmmaker (Kyiv), BAK Fellow 2019-2020
Dear City of Utrecht,

I’m writing this message from a bomb shelter in central Kyiv. As my city is bombed by the far-right Russian dictatorship , we are strategising about the international activities of Ukrainian cultural institutions for 2025-28. Its quite unthinkable to imagine that in the meantime - and for the same time span - the city of Utrecht is trying to defund by far the most important art institution in the city. It seems that the situation of Dutch art institutions is getting worse than even that in Ukraine. Don’t wait for the fascists to start bombing your city. Wake up.

Betül Aksu
I’m an artist based in between Izmir and Istanbul, and a 2023/2024 fellow within the BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice. The fellowship has introduced new worlds to me, the worlds I wouldn’t have witnessed otherwise. It created an artistic environment in which difficult topics of our time could be discussed towards making new proposals that have actual impact on our shared freedom. Witnessing BAK’s dedication to create spaces for conversation makes me believe that art can initiate new ways of living. Without BAK’s programme of events, there would be less space for negotiation, which has the potential to narrow down a city’s perspective into one way of thinking and doing. I see the report from the Utrecht Advisory Committee that proposes to defund BAK in 2025-2028 as a great loss, both locally and globally. Locally, as it would stop new perspectives to be spread through BAK within Utrecht and the Netherlands, globally as it would stop the possibilities to initiate and sustain a global network of people who work towards being together radically.

Carina Jansen
The world can be a very scary place, and there are few art institutions that can create communal gatherings that benefit the communities where they reside. BAK has engaged with the community and allowed so many unheard voices to come to the forefront. It can function both as an academic and activist space.

As an international student who had to make her home in Utrecht, a city that can be beautiful but daunting to newcomers, it has been a refuge.

As a student at the HKU I also appreciate the opportunities given to me through the relationship between BAK and the HKU. I wonder what would my experience of exhibiting, workshops, fellowships etc etc have been at the university had BAK not been there and welcomed us with open arms. BAK is not only a landmark in Utrecht but I would argue in the Netherlands as well.

To be honest, seeing that there is so much support and need for spaces like BAK, to not continue fund it would be to admit that the municipality does not care for the people within its own community. And that is a very scary, very dangerous way to go, in these times.

Nicoline van Harskamp
The video PDGN was comissioned and exhibited by BAK in 2016. As I write this, I am in Paris to prepare to show PDGN at Kadist, a space directed by former BAK curator Julia Morandeira Arrizabalaga. After more than 2 decades, all ways of practice and thought lead back to BAK in some way. It is a major node in a huge network spanning the local, national and global, that can’t function without it. Don’t be short sighted, don’t destroy what was built for us and by us all!

Boudewijn Loois
BAK (Basis voor Actuele Kunst) is erg belangrijk voor Utrecht en de culturele sector. Het biedt een plek waar kunst en maatschappelijke kwesties samenkomen, en helpt zo om de cultuur en diversiteit van de stad te versterken. BAK brengt mensen samen en stimuleert nieuwe ideeën, wat bijdraagt aan een levendige en betrokken gemeenschap in Utrecht.

Iris van der Tuin, Utrecht University
BAK is a crucial base for art-theory inter- and intra-connecting both in Utrecht, nationally and internationally. I write “inter” and “intra” because not only does BAK collaborate with theorists but also does BAK do and stimulate theory, perhaps most prominently so. As a theorist of cultural inquiry I can say that BAK is not only a partner for my work but also an important beacon in theory formation, change and circulation. In Summer 2023 I organized a Summer School at BAK. The title of the school – Supervising Artistic and Practice-based Research – perhaps hides the fact that institutional critique and creativity was the impetus of our conversations as well as we spoke about the importance of radical pedagogy for understanding and addressing today’s multiple and intersecting crisis. Participants were all institutionalized supervisors in between art institutions, art schools and universities. They came from Utrecht, Dutch and European universities and from all other continents. The fact that the discussions tool place at BAK, where these discussions have a history, a present and a future has so much added value and a grounding effect that once again I was alerted by colleagues how BAK is, indeed, a crucial base. Currently I am running, with colleagues from Utrecht University, the Artistic Leadership in Culture course at BAK. Having art, practice and leadership around while discussing it is of utmost importance for the growth of both participants and members of the teaching team. I simply cannot grasp the very suggestion that BAK may not be financed by gemeente Utrecht.

Elowise Vandenbroecke, Dramaturge, Performing Arts Curator & Grants Writer
I share your shock and disbelief upon reading the report "Kleur Bekennen" from the Utrecht Advisory Committee on the Memorandum 2025-2028. I regard BAK as a vital institution in the local, national, and international art scenes, creating spaces for artistic research, contributing to the development of discourses, and advancing compelling artistic proposals that intertwine socio-politics and art. This practice thrives not on spectacle or the wave of popular, consumable art experiences, but through slow, sustainable work. The artistic proposals emerging from BAK address the urgent need to envision ways of being together for a livable future.

It would be particularly interesting to see how BAK tackles the challenge of engaging a broader local audience. By collaborating with local partners and networks in Utrecht, BAK has the potential to propose aesthetico-political experiments that foster new ways of being together. Now is not the time to stop this project—on the contrary, it is essential to continue and expand these efforts.

ps: I hope that BAK can engage in interdisciplinary collaborations with IMPAKT, Het Huis Utrecht, the Nederlands Film Festival, and Residenties in Utrecht to sustain and amplify your projects. What might an interesting aesthetico-political response to the "Kleur Bekennen" report look like? Such a re-action could showcase the collective strength and resilience of the artistic community in Utrecht, demonstrating the importance of continued support and innovation in the arts.

Luuk van de Klundert, Programmamanager Educatie & Interpretatie
Ik vind het ongelofelijk dat een plek zo belangrijk als BAK met angst naar de toekomst moet kijken. Júist in Utrecht, waar een vitaal, spannend, en vooruitstrevende kunstwereld een essentieel onderdeel is van de stad, en al zijn gemeenschappen. De tentoonstellingen, workshops, en evenementen die BAK door de jaren heeft georganiseerd hebben een verbindend en vooruitstrevend karakter gegeven aan de stad. Dat dit nu onder druk komt te staan stemt mij verdrietig.

Ik hoop dat dit besluit kan worden heroverwogen, en dat BAK zorgeloos kan blijven ontwikkelen en zich kan blijven inzetten voor de stad.

Nex Straatmeijer, van BAK young fellows 2024
BAK heeft mij de kans gegeven om ervaring op te doen en mijn creativiteit te uiten. Het heeft mij hoop gegeven voor mijn toekomst als kunstenaar en ik zou willen dat anderen dit ook mogen ervaren. Daarom vind ik dat het budget van BAK niet weggenomen mag worden omdat het een essentiële basis is voor (jonge) kunstenaars. Ook is het van cultureel belang dat kunst niet alleen toegankelijk is via musea maar ook via instanties zoals BAK.

Noa Laout
Mijn naam is Noa Laout, zeventien jaar en kom uit Hilversum.
Ergens halverwege vorig jaar besloot ik mij aan te melden voor de Young Fellows. Dit was mijn eerste kennismaking met BAK (basis voor actuele kunst). Na een gesprek, het geweldige telefoontje dat ik het programma mocht volgen en daarna de eerste bijeenkomst, wist ik dat dit veel voor mij zou betekenen. Ik kan me nog goed herinneren hoe erg ik me geraakt en begrepen voelde door Maria Hlavajova tijdens het gesprek dat ze met ons voerde tijdens deze bijeenkomst.

Toch had ik nooit kunnen voorspellen wat voor een impact BAK zou hebben op mijn leven.

Als tiener voelde ik me soms machteloos tegenover alles wat er om me heen gebeurde, BAK gaf me niet alleen een stem, een plek en de steun om hier iets mee te doen, maar leerde me dat voor een betere wereld je niet alleen jezelf, maar ook mensen om je heen nodig hebt. Dat de beste vorm van verandering voortkomt uit samen aanpassen en samen verder te denken dan wat mogelijk lijkt.

Dit is iets wat ik de rest van mijn leven met mij meeneem en zal BAK hier altijd dankbaar voor zijn.
In dat halve jaar heb ik zo genoten van het samenkomen met mijn mede Fellows was het werken aan een betere toekomst met mensen van je eigen leeftijd en hiervoor alle ruimte krijgen, een onbeschrijfelijk cadeau, hoe verschillend sommige doelen ook waren.
Utrecht is een plek waar ik graag kom. De stad lijkt ruimte te bieden aan bijzondere plekken zoals BAK, die een belangrijke rol spelen in de culturele en sociale gemeenschap. BAK biedt een platform voor oplossingsgerichte kunstprojecten en maakt ruimte voor gesprekken over actuele maatschappelijke thema's. Ik zou het hartverscheurend vinden als een stad als Utrecht een organisatie zoals BAK zou verliezen.
BAK geeft mij hoop voor de toekomst en gaf mij mijn eerste stap in de richting die ik op wil. Zelf hoop ik ooit ook zo iets te kunnen creëren zoals BAK doet (en hopelijk mag blijven doen), want plekken zoals BAK maken mij, de stad en onze toekomst beter. “Toward being together otherwise”.

Voor altijd een trotse Young Fellow.

Jhudo Arends, bak Young Fellow 2023-24
I was sixteen when I worked at young fellows at bak, at the time I didn’t know what role I wanted art en activism to have in my life. At bak I workt with amazing artists and learned that art had many different forms and functions, and can help en inspire people. At bak I learned about all the thinks that art can be and I learned things that I will take with me for the rest of my life.

Utrecht needs a place like bak because art in every form should be available to everyone.

Aylin Kuryel & Fırat Yücel
As a collective called Image Acts, we have been producing art and cinema in the Netherlands for 10 years. Aylin, an academic working at the Literary and Cultural Analysis department of the University of Amsterdam, joined BAK's fellowship programme in 2020. At a time when pandemic measures were being implemented, BAK provided Aylin with great opportunities to get acquainted and collaborated with the art scene and diKerent communities in Utrecht, shape and present her work. The fellowship had a lasting impact on Aylin's life, encouraging her to be part of the cultural life in Utrecht and on a larger scale Netherlands.

Likewise, Fırat, who joined the fellowship programme in 2023-2024, established a stronger connection with the cultural life in the Netherlands during the fellowship than ever before. Thanks to this programme, which took place simultaneously in Istanbul and Utrecht, Fırat had the opportunity to build bridges between his experiences in these two cities. In addition, for the first time during the years he lived in the Netherlands, he had the opportunity to come together with diKerent artists and carry out joint production and research.

We, as two people who have been fellows at BAK, believe that BAK is a vital institution for Utrecht. It not only creates spaces for collective work, but also brings artists and the city's community closer. BAK is a vital space that enables to build cultural, communal and artistic connections between cities, communities, and creative forms, through its wide range of events, gatherings and programmes.

Tom Holert, co-founder Harun Farocki Institut, Berlin
I have been a fan of BAK from the very first contact onwards. It also needs disclosing that I have cooperated with BAK at several occasions over time, as curator, lecturer, co-editor. Not only have I felt very much at home at every moment of these collaborations, I also experienced an atmosphere of intense intellectual, social and political commitment, regarding all levels of the work done. Utrecht developed into one of my favorite destinations, and friends have heard me marveling, again and again, about the genius loci of the place that is largely due to the existence of such ambitiously conceived, programmed and lived spaces of art and knowledge production such as BAK (as well as Casco, HKU, several departments of Utrecht University, etc.).

I am particularly impressed by the vigorous fashion in which the BAK staff and its network is constantly questioning and probing the notions and premises on which an institution located inside as well as outside of the art world and the academic field should be operating, taking very seriously their own call to “instituting otherwise”. Thus, almost in passing—subtly, but significantly—BAK is continuously changing the ways in which cultural production is being conceived. This said, BAK does not provide simple answers to the political, social, or environmental urgencies at hand, its progressivism is hinged on complexification, rather than reduction.

BAK is thus a stark antipode to populist politics that pretend to have these answers. Therefore, the Gemeente Utrecht commission’s arguments for discontinuing the long-time funding strike me as disingenuous. They are not based on a critique of program and method, much to the contrary, but solely based on issues of turn-out that are notoriously being mobilized to raze cultural players that refuse to obey to a neoliberal (or worse) agenda. Cultural relevance and reputation are hardly quantifiable, but knowing BAK’s professional and self-critical attitude towards its own role in the city and its responsibility with regard to local communities and audiences, I am shocked by the commission’s verdict that, should it be confirmed, will sensibly damage Utrecht’s position in the national and international contemporary cultural scenes.

David Muñoz-Alcántara, HfG Karlsruhe Guest Professor, Helsinki University Postdoctoral Researcher
It is striking to read your message about the funding cut threatening BAK’s labor continuity. This reflects on the growing panorama of a global fascist offensive, and it is not coincidental that an institution that has been in the vanguard for mobilizing non-fascist and otherwise life alternatives through the art is now at risk.
As a former BAK fellow, international researcher, educator, and art worker, I assert that the uniqueness and quality of BAK’s work – and the practices it cultivates and brings together– contribute at large to the deep trans-disciplinary understanding of the present eco-social crisis. BAK has proven to be a key node for assembling practitioners and debates that strive to grow democratic and transformative approaches to global injustices. The value of critical art must be understood as an investment in everyone's future, as it helps to envision and grow plural alternatives to the present capitalist-driven devastation. The threat that BAK is currently facing is not isolated. This threatening wound will certainly bleed beyond Utrecht’s cultural ecosystem. This cut will represent a loss to the construction of societal accountability in Europe and to the emancipatory capacity of art.

My message joins the collective urge for Utrecht Municipality to review its decision and warranty the continuity of BAK’s valuable work and existence.

Society should continue to insist on a world that could be otherwise!

Enis Köstepen, Irmak Karasu, Alev Ersan, Varduhi Balyan
As a group of artists based in Istanbul, we have been following BAK's publications, exhibitions, community programs and fellowship programs for a long time. In 2023, with our acceptance to the BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice 2023/2024, we had the great opportunity to become part of the BAK Fellows community.

BAK's vision of connecting like-minded artists in Istanbul and those in Utrecht has led to collaborations and conversations that we couldn't have imagined within our own artistic practices. We now have a much clearer understanding of the creative potential of the artist community we are part of.

The kind of intellectual, political and artistic discussion that BAK allows is unique in unleashing these collaborations and conversations. BAK offers a unique combination of intellectual rigor, artistic freedom, and experimentation with political imaginaries. This is a very rare and invaluable combination that is built into the vision of BAK.

As a space built to contribute to the construction of a world free of oppression and exploitation, BAK should be protected and supported. We find it inappropriate, to say the least, that funding could be cut on the basis of "local impact". BAK is necessary for the future of art, politics and intellectuals around the world. We no longer live by the criteria of 'local impact. We are confident that the city of Utrecht has the capacity to evaluate the global impact of the BAK. The city of Utrecht should continue to value and support a space that cares about the world and strives for an effective fusion of activism, art and intellectualism across borders. BAK is a model institution that will inspire and support many people in the future.

We urge the city of Utrecht to continue to support this critically important space for artistic, intellectual and political debate, which is so necessary to find ways to resist the various waves of trouble we are facing in today's world.

Eva Durovec, cultural worker
I have been following and learning from BAK for several years now, because it gives us tremendous inspiration and hope to reflect on possible futures, it gives us understanding, empathy and caring, it gives us community and belonging. How I am observing the destruction of the art institutions and their transformation into a kind of model of folk art, universal or comforting art, with a particular focus on destroying forms of political, critical or otherwise uncomfortable works and workers.

BAK has a huge role in the contemporary art world, it is one of the few islands and I think it is absolutely important that it continues to exist.

Please don't jeopardize the running of this essential institution.

Wendelien van Oldenborgh
in solidariteit met BAK en als ondersteuning voor het voortbestaan van deze onmisbare plek in Utrecht!

een absolute shock dat de gemeente Utrecht adviseert plotseling alle steun voor BAK terug te trekken. een onbegrijpelijke beslissing na jaren van steun aan dit belangrijke knooppunt van lokale en internationale discoursen, waar ik de ontwikkelingen in hedendaagse kunst en ideeën over de mogelijkheid tot een andere, en redelijkere wereld heb ervaren en meegenomen. een stad kan niet zonder dit soort centra van uitwisseling, ideevorming en leerprocessen op hoog niveau, zoals BAK het altijd heeft gebracht. de ideeën verspreiden zich vanuit daar weer en worden deel van een groter geheel. het is belangrijk dat het lokale gevoed wordt door het internationale, en ik ben zeker dat het omgekeerde net zo goed gebeurt.

als bezoeker, als luisteraar, als meelezer en als meespreker, als maker en als fellow heb ik bijna twintig jaar al BAK gevolgd, van het aanbod geleerd en ben erdoor beïnvloed. ik kan me niet voorstellen dat deze mogelijkheid anderen ontnomen zou worden door een verlies van de ondersteuning door de stad Utrecht.

BAK moet blijven!

Katia Krupennikova
With shock, sorrow, and strong resentment, I witnessed the withdrawal of funding from BAK, Basis voor Actuele Kunst, Utrecht by Gemeente Utrecht. Since my first visit to BAK as a student in 2011, it has stood out as a visionary and special place within the Dutch cultural landscape. I’ve always found it remarkable that such a place isn’t in a big city like Amsterdam or Rotterdam, but in Utrecht, a vibrant city known for its progressive politics and one of the best universities in the country. Utrecht can be proud of BAK as an outstanding part of its infrastructure. BAK is a unique space that not only connects art and academia but also generously devotes its resources to making a tangible change in society. BAK cares about Utrecht, it embodies political action: it regularly hosts diverse communities in Utrecht, and supports people in precarious positions. The connections BAK has built over 25 years with local communities in Utrecht and with the world are precious and irreplaceable.

As a lecturer at HKU MA Fine Art, I’m grateful to BAK for being our main partner, contributing to knowledge production, sharing, and exchange. It’s incredibly enriching for students to be part of BAK during the academic year, especially when BAK annually opens its doors to us, providing facilities for our community—students, teachers, and alumni—hosting our graduation shows and other events. I was a fellow at BAK in 2019-2020 and experienced a lot of understanding and support despite the challenges of Covid-19, and I can testify that BAK pays its employees and contributors fairly. As a future student in the Art and Society MA program at the University of Utrecht, I mourn the very idea of losing BAK as a source of learning.

If BAK is destroyed (and this is what is done by removing the funding), it cannot be restored. I strongly believe that closure of BAK will be a significant loss for the city of Utrecht. So much labor from so many people has been invested in this institution, and many resources from Gemeente Utrecht itself have supported BAK over the past 25 years. It’s easy to destroy infrastructures, but building and maintaining such a place as BAK takes true dedication.

Mitchel Breed, namens Stichting Das Spectrum
"Als Stichting Das Spectrum sluiten wij ons aan bij de steun aan BAK, dat al jaren een unieke rol vervult in het culturele ecosysteem van Utrecht. Verschillende generaties kunstenaars en andere belangstellenden hebben voor de ontwikkeling van hun artistiek-politieke bewustzijn kunnen putten uit de rijke programmering van de afgelopen decennia. BAK heeft de maatschappelijke functie van kunst, die recent meer gemeengoed is geworden, altijd benadrukt en aangejaagd.

Kunstenaarsinitiatieven van vroeger, nu en in de toekomst kunnen voortbouwen op het door BAK gestimuleerde besef dat wij allemaal – vanuit de verbeelding die in de hedendaagse politiek lijkt te ontbreken - kunnen bijdragen aan het verbeelden, invoelbaar maken en verspreiden van een alternatief wereldbeeld. Het streven naar ‘een betere wereld’ lijkt abstract of ongrijpbaar, maar BAK heeft het altijd dichter binnen handbereik geprobeerd te brengen en te houden – niet in de laatste plaats door de verbinding op te zoeken met de meest uiteenlopende gemeenschappen en opleidingen in de stad.

Of je nu een (oud-)kraker, een HKU-student of een pas begonnen ontwerpcollectief bent: nu vergezichten van een gelijkwaardige en duurzame samenleving in de Haagse politiek verder weg lijken dan ooit, hebben we allemaal behoefte aan de nabijheid van culturele instellingen die ons eraan helpen herinneren dat wij bij uitstek zélf het verschil kunnen maken. Alleen al daarom moet een instelling als BAK deel blijven van cultuur in Utrecht, als blijvende reminder aan die ene vraag die ze ons twintig jaar geleden al eens stelden. Who if not we should at least try to imagine the future of all this?"

Nicole Immler, Prof. Historical Memory and Transformative Justice at the University of Humanistic Studies (UvH), Utrecht
For me BAK gives an international face to art and culture in Utrecht. Your exhibitions bring theoretical debates and empirical reality together in a fascinating ways on crucial topics such as the human condition, human rights, ecology and justice. The long-term commitment you have to develop networks and interdisciplinary knowledge on specific themes such as 'repair' is admirable. You are a place of learning for students, teachers and culture/art audiences alike.



Simone Di Rubbo
Over the last couple of years, I got to know BAK through a series of workshops and events at the interface between art and social activism.

Through these, I have seen BAK curating a space to contextualizing local initiatives in a global environment, and to see art as catharsis for issues affecting us all.

Reducing funding to BAK takes away the opportunity to have another lens to interpret and understand reality, to think art less as “content” and more a mean of interpreting issues when other meas are not enough.

Over de laste paar jaren, heb ik BAK door workshoppen en evenementen aan het grensvlak van kunst en sociaal activisme leren kennen.

Door deze initiatieven heb ik gezien hoe BAK ruimte creëerde om locale initiatieven in een globale milieu te contextualiseren en om kunst te zien als catharsis voor problemen die invloed op ons allemaal hebben.

De vermindering van de financiering van BAK ontneemt de chance om een andere lens te hebben om de realiteit te interpreteren en begrijpen, om kunst minder als “content” en meer als en manier om een mening te geven als andere manieren niet genoeg zijn.



Frans-Willem Korsten, professor 'Literature, Culture, and Law'
Misschien is BAK iets te veel van een 'stille kracht' geweest in Utrecht dat nu ze dreigt financiële steun van de gemeente te verliezen. Nationaal en internationaal is het een kracht met een grote, invloedrijke stem. En dat 'stille kracht' in Utrecht geeft enkel aan dat BAK aan het werk is – de mouwen opgestroopt – aan de basis. Overigens is dat werk aan de basis, verbonden met de vele culturen die Utrecht rijk is, artistiek ruimte gevend en creërend in antwoord op maatschappelijke nood, heel goed zichtbaar en hoorbaar voor wie zich even verdiept. Indien de gemeenteraad het advies overneemt is dat niet alleen vernietiging van cultureel kapitaal, het is een bewuste verscheuring van een cultureel-artistiek weefsel dat zijn gelijke niet heeft in Nederland.

Kari Robertson and Santiago Pinol
It was with absolute shock and devastation that we learned of the decision to withdraw funding from BAK in 2025. We would like to add our voices to the many others compelling you to reconsider this decision.

Having taken part in the Fellowship for Situated Practice over the past 9 months we, The Garage School of Medicine can attest to the extraordinary and unique position BAK holds within the cultural ecosystem of the Netherlands. We are two artists, Santiago Pinol and Kari Robertson, who have been based here in NL for 6 and 10 years respectively. Over that time we have gravitated towards the programming of BAK, mostly as audience, attending exhibitions, events, reading groups and workshops. BAK simply never disappoints with its programming which is always challenging, critical, propositional and inspiring. As educators in an art school (we both teach at the Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam) BAK is the institution we are consistently directing students to for cultural programming. When students reach out to BAK they seem to consistently be met with a positive response. This year Kari has a student who developed her graduation project (a zero waste recipe book) in collaboration with the B.asic A.ctivist K.itchen.

More recently we have also experienced BAK from another side, Santiago participated in the Ultradependent Public School project through the community portal and subsequently we collaborated on the Fellowship for Situated Practice. This most recent opportunity has granted us a wealth of support and opportunities. We have been financially remunerated fairly, met with an amazing network of peers and practitioners, been able to engage more deeply with the facilities, resources and programming of BAK, been allowed space and time to develop our research without pressure and given the opportunity to publicly share our work. The impact this experience has had on the development of our practice is impossible to overstate.

BAK is unique for a number of reasons but perhaps most fundamentally for the way they are able to host and bring different groups together. In our fellowship we have the privilege of getting to spend time with the young fellows, a group of teenagers who develop a project with the facilities and mentoring provided by BAK. We cannot think of another cultural space that consistently and responsibly brings so many groups and communities into contact with one another; artists, academics, designers, activists, teenagers, marginalised groups and cooks to name a few.

Zeyno Pekünlü
Dear Members of the Utrecht Advisory Commi@ee on the Culture Memorandum 2025–2028

As the Coordinator of the Istanbul Biennial ProducFon and Research Programme organized by the Istanbul FoundaFon for Culture and Arts (IKSV) and one of the conveners of the Fellowship for Situated PracFce Post-Academic Programme organized by BAK Utrecht, I am enthusiasFcally joining the countless others who are pleading with you to reconsider your choice to withdraw funding from BAK Utrecht in 2025.

Since the 2000s, I have been following BAK Utrecht and its programs from a distance as an internaFonal arFst and cultural worker. With its boundary-pushing emphasis on being an internaFonal insFtuFon with strong relaFonships with the local communiFes, it has always served as an inspiraFon to other cultural insFtuFons. BAK Utrecht, in my opinion, is one of the organizaFons that establishes and maintains Utrecht's and the Netherlands' reputaFon as major hubs for contemporary art.

Since 2021, I have had the privilege to serve as one of the conveners of the Fellowship for Situated PracFce at BAK Utrecht. In my capacity as a convener, I have witnessed the professional development of more than forty fellows from both domesFc and internaFonal backgrounds. Fellowship for Situated PracFce gives its fellows the Fme and financial support they need to advance their research, as well as the community's support. AddiFonally, it fosters the development of regional and global communiFes around the program.
The value and the relevance of an insFtuFon, in my opinion, are closely Fed to both how it brings the most recent global discussions to its community and how it elevates local conversaFons to a global pla[orm. The programming of BAK Utrecht, in my opinion, is a prime illustration of this.

I hope you reconsider your decision.
Bernat Aranda. Conference Interpreter, Translator, Language Tutor
An institution like BAK gives a platform to the too often unheard voices who are also part of our society. In times of war, fake news, political tension and with far-right parties on the rise in Europe, we need artists and thinkers who advocate for minorities and raise awareness about the discrimination they face.

Espero que os ayude, desgraciadamente mi experiencia con vosotres ha sido breve.

Kosta Besermenji, volunteer host
As someone doing a master’s in biochemistry, BAK wouldn’t be the first institution that you would associate me with. However, as a queer international I have not felt the same welcoming, love and soul in any other place I have worked or done an internship at. During my 2-3 years volunteering at BAK I have seen so many different individuals being brought together and celebrated in the loving community that is BAK. Although my knowledge and perspective of art might be limited, BAK has always addressed crucial socio-political questions and I admire every one of my colleagues that work hard to raise awareness on these topics. I proudly associate myself with BAK and I cannot imagine Utrecht without it.

Tim van Loon, intern and volunteer host
Two years ago, a teacher introduced me to BAK, and I replied to an open-call for volunteering. Since then, my involvement in events, hosting as a volunteer, engaging with theoretical concepts, and completing a six-month internship has profoundly transformed my understanding of art and its societal role. These experiences have reshaped my aspirations and vision of how I want to exist together in this world. I deeply cherish the connections I've made and the experiences I've gained during this time. For me, bak is a fundamental part of Utrechts cultural scene and I would be very dissapointed to see it go.

Sorcha Brennan, volunteer host
I am writing to express my outrage at the municipality’s decision to cut funding for BAK. As an international student, I moved to Utrecht last September (2023) and found BAK to be a wonderful site of learning and community during my first few months in this city. Its diverse set of events, educational programmes, research projects and civic practices are crucial to a flourishing cultural ecosystem that promotes critical thought and just visions for the future.

This institution has shaped my sense of artistic potential and the transformative effects art can have on our ways of living. I know many others who share this sentiment. Art is not just something to be looked at and consumed but re-orients our perceptions of the world - BAK provides a necessary space for many communities, both local and international, to come together and imagine new ways of living with one-another.

At home in Ireland, we are struggling to build solid institutions like BAK that give a platform to critical ideas which are explored through multiple channels. The Netherlands has a long history of publicly funding cultural institutions, laying the foundations for rich and varied civic engagement. It would be deeply shameful if the city of Utrecht was deprived of this important space for generations to come.

Katerina Kallivrousi, volunteer host
BAK's pioneering approach to combining art, theory, activism and community care make it a unique space in The Netherlands for anyone who dares to dream and act upon transforming society into a more just, egalitarian and inclusive space. More than an exhibition space, BAK's vital contributions to the development of artistic dialogues creates bridges of solidarity between local, national and international communities. BAK has been one of the main reasons that I have been coming to Utrecht throughout all the years that I have been living in The Netherlands as an international. It is a safe space, where I have found a sense of belonging and I have been prompted to critically reflect on my positionality and practice as a cultural worker. I am certain that this is a shared feeling among BAK's wide and diverse dedicated audiences, communities and partners, and I believe that it would be truly devastating to many of us, if we were to lose the space where we feel the most at home.

Char Beelaerts, volunteer host
I am writing this in the hopes that my words and experiences will be heard and can add to the clear outrage and sadness that has come out of the news that BAK might lose it’s municipal funding. In a time where cultural institutions and organisations are already struggling to stay afloat, we need the municipality to understand the importance of supporting these institutions now more than ever!

I am a Dutch student and have called Utrecht my home for the past six years. I have made most of my friends here, and learned most of what I know about the world at it’s university. But BAK is the place where all of this - my personal and academic interests - have been able to combine, and have made me not only gain valuable work experience, but I have truly become part of a community where I have found not only colleagues but also many friends. The value of the community that BAK provides, and to whom BAK provides space, cannot be emphasized enough. BAK is so much more than an arts institution!

Whilst it is true that BAK remains relatively unknown to many people in Utrecht, this does not understate it’s importance in any way. BAK fulfils a crucial role in the ecosystem of arts and culture in Utrecht and beyond, as it is a place where people can not only come to view and experience art, but people can come to share ideas, have discussions, be moved, and become part of something. Furthermore, BAK’s involvement with social practice, and it’s daring to move beyond theory and critical thinking to make an actual difference in the world is something that I have always valued about BAK, and something that I wish more cultural institutions would engage with. Losing such an exemplary institution would be so damaging to the sector that I don’t even want to think about it.

If anything, I truly believe BAK deserves more support for the work they do, and have been doing for the past two decades. Not only financially does BAK deserve support, but the municipality should recognise the vital role BAK plays in the cultural landscape, and how damaging it would be to undermine that role in this way.

Elisabeth Köllen, volunteer host
Ik ben ruim 5 jaar een trouwe bezoeker van BAK. Als host. En in die functie heb ik vele bezoekers mogen verwelkomen en vele verschillende activiteiten mogen meemaken. BAK is een unieke organisatie. Niet alleen een museum met mogelijkheden voor kunstenaars uit binnen-en buitenland om hun werk te tonen. Maar het is vooral ook een levendig netwerk. Een netwerk waarin verschillende mensen participeren uit binnen-en buitenland. Een netwerk ook waarin ideeën worden uitgewisseld, trainingen en discussies plaatsvinden over belangrijke maatschappelijke en actuele thema's. BAK is een organisatie waarbij kunst, verschillende culturen, wetenschap en educatie met elkaar worden verbonden. Een unieke verbintenis en een belangrijke ontmoetingsplaats die NIET verloren mag gaan in wereld waar al zoveel kapot gaat.

Julia Kassyk, volunteer host
I am distraught and disappointed with the decision of the municipality to cut funding for BAK. Educated to believe in conventional, technocratic and extractivist solutions to the world's problems, the work and the environment of BAK convinced me fully that art and culture are crucial agents in bringing deep socio-political transformations our society needs right now. For me, BAK was not only a place of critical thinking, practical learning, building a community and connecting with very inspiring people, but also an inspiration for starting my professional career in the cultural sector.

What I value in the work of BAK the most is that Base speaks about what others, be it cultural, educational or governmental bodies, fear to even mention - the refugee crisis, authoritarianism in place we expect democracy etc. Understanding the importance of situatedness and making its work relevant to the local context, BAK is not afraid to show with full honesty the role our western society plays in maintaining and perpetuating the global and local socio-political crises we face. Beyond pointing the problems out, the work of BAK brings forward practices or at least practical propositions of how we could find the way out of the multiple crises we are living through.

As devastating as it might be, the war in Ukraine continues, Palestinian society is being wiped out and global warming is already happening impacting those who have already been struggling. I believe that, if BAK ceases to teach us how to roll up our sleeves and do the work that needs to be done, we will face stagnation in socio-political change that Utrecht and Dutch society in general, cannot afford right now.

Iva Pistalovic, volunteer host
I have been a volunteer at BaK for a year now and the people and experiences I have been met with have been nothing short of enriching and educational for me and I will cherish these connections. BaK has supported so many socio-political causes and artists that I don’t see any other institution in Utrecht doing. As someone who has sat through days at BaK and other locations I can with confidence say that every person that comes in has a profound interest for what they have to offer and always strike a conversation with me about the art and people. BaK also serves as a place for collective events of solidarity and acts as a safe haven for many which is an immensely important part of many people’s lives. Loosing a place such as BaK would leave a huge hole in Utrecht.

Nicoleta Cîrlig, volunteer host
As someone who has studied and is now working in the cultural field, this news takes me aback and comes as an unexpected blow. I came in contact with BAK's work during my studies at Utrecht University and later, after I finished my master's degree and went on exploring the possibilities of the cultural field in the Netherlands, it was the first place I thought of for bringing in my contribution whenever I could, as a volunteer. What I have learned during my time there, was how much more BAK was than a space for artists to showcase their work, come together and learn, be in contact with each other and grow together. I have noticed that it is a space for communities to congregate, and discuss; for people from all over the world to find a unifying space where they could share their life stories, or the life stories of those they are documenting, writing about, filming. Of validating the experiences of those far away from us, whose lives are different, unique, and worth knowing about. An independent space that puts on the forefront how complex our modern times are, and how muddy these informational waters we are trying to swim through daily are. First and foremost, institutions like BAK are an aid in these times to provide alternative sources of information and invite people to see, think, and analyse together the stories they see, the implications of politics on different people's lives, and the different parts of our planet. A key element of our increasingly alienating society - such spaces are crucial for proving that we can create dialogues between cultures on a local level, that we should do so, and that we need each other to understand our worlds, our lives, to make changes for the better in our social circles, in our towns. We need these spaces now more than ever and surely we will always need them to get out of our heads, our informational comfort zones, to support artists and activists. We cannot and should not undervalue culture as it is as vital to us as any other human necessity. Culture is here to show us how we live and what we can do to evolve. Culture is here to create bridges between disciplines, to provide spaces for us to work together to repair and resolve, love and care for each other, and show to each other that, although sometimes it seems so, we are not alone in our struggles and that we need examples of how others live, so we can all continue in living in solidarity. I hope, with all my heart, that this space can exist so that everything else around it can continue evolving.

Sven Lütticken. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam en Universiteit Leiden.
BAK moet blijven!

De afgelopen dagen werkte ik thuis in Utrecht een artikel voor een Amerikaans tijdschrift aan het voltooien én een lezing voor Södertörn University in Stockholm. In beide spelen actuele en oudere projecten van BAK een rol, zoals dat overigens een paar weken gelezen ook het geval was bij een lezing aan Oslo. Nu moet ik aan het artikel en de lezing de kanttekening toevoegen dat het bestaan van deze vitale en essentiële instelling op de tocht staat omdat de gemeente haar ondersteuning intrekt.

De klap komt extra hard aan in de voersporen van het kathartische project usufructuaries of earth rondom kunstenaar Marwa Arsanios’ onderzoek naar gemeenschappelijk gebruikt land in het Midden-Oosten. Arsanios’ verbeelding van een ander Libanon, en een ander Palestina, toonde weer eens aan hoe BAK in barre tijden een essentiële plek van reflectie en verdieping is, waar tentoonstellingen, symposia en publicaties hand in hand gaan. Wat dat betreft was het een waardige opvolger van eerdere projecten met bijvoorbeeld Kader Attia, Jeanne van Heeswijk en Jonas Staal.

Voor deze kunstenaars is werk met sociale groepen een wezenlijk onderdeel van hun praktijk. Van Heeswijk organiseerde bij BAK training sessies voor een onzekere toekomst, Staal nodigde voor de New World Summit vertegenwoordigers van bevrijdingsbewegingen uit, en Attia gaf met Bak een vervolg aan zijn Parijse dekoloniale initiatief La Colonie. BAK toont zich met dergelijke projecten een plek voor radicale verbeelding en kritisch denken. Dit is precies wat de nieuwe regering onder het mom van een “war on woke” in kunst en wetenschap de kop probeert in te drukken. Ik had niet gedacht dat Wilders en zijn handlangers hierbij hulp van de gemeente Utrecht zouden krijgen.

BAK is bij uitstek een instelling die de brug slaat van lokaal naar landelijk en internationaal, en die lokale en andere gemeenschappen met elkaar in verbinding brengt. Utrechtse communities kunnen zelf diasporisch zijn; zo komen internationale gasten uit kunst of academische wereld in aanraking met bijvoorbeeld Filipijnse migranten die in het kader van de b.ASIC a.CTIVIST k.KITCHEN bij een evenement koken. Met leden van dergelijke geemeenschappen neemt BAK bijvoorbeeld ook deel aan de Sint Maarten-parade; zo kom ik Bak op straat in Utrecht dus evenzeer tegen als in publicaties van internationale collega’s zoals T.J. Demos, die in zijn boek Radical Futurisms enthousiast schrijft over BAK-projecten van Jeanne van Heeswijk en Jonas Staal.

Dat boek lees ik zelf ook met mijn studenten aan de Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, met wie ik vervolgens BAK ga bezoeken opdat zij deze unieke en belangrijke kunstinstelling ook direct leren kennen—en die studenten zijn Nederlands, Oost-Europees, Taiwanees, Mexicaans… Ook deze studenten vormen een gemeenschap – een community of learners die precies het soort waarden vertegenwoordigt waarvan ik eigenlijk dacht dat de gemeente Utrecht ze ook aanhangt en uitdraagt

Uiteraard is de koek niet oneindig en moeten er keuzes worden gemaakt. Het is echter absurd dat juist een kunstinstelling als BAK de nek wordt omgedraaid. Het is een kortzichtige, beschamende, slecht onderbouwde en nog slechter doordachte beslissing. In tijden waarin progressieve waarden, kritisch denken en mondig burgerschap op de tocht staan, is de afstraffing van een instelling als bak een desastreus signaal. En het komt uitgerekend uit Utrecht.

Stichting Moira, Utrecht
Dear friends from the Community Portal/ b.ASIC a.CTIVIST k.ITCHEN at BAK, we hope the Gemeente Utrecht will reconsider the defunding of your organisation for 25-28.

Despite their history, legacies and numbers, socially and politically engaged Cultural and art organizations are made by people with visions, intentions and trust in their support network. We know and had the opportunity to meet, share and appreciate the work of many of you in the team that have contributed to make BAK as an institution, more accessible, permeable to its surroundings and community driven. We acknowledge that this cannot be given for granted in a city where diversity is homogenic and communities are becoming a profitable trend and trademark.

In solidarity with all of your team and extended (local-international) network.

Francisca Khamis Giacoman, artist
I'm Francisca Khamis, an artist based in Amsterdam, and I wanted to reach out to show my support for you all during this tough time.
Hearing about the proposal to cut your funding was really upsetting.

BAK has been such an important space for me and so many others.
Working with you has always been inspiring and has provided a unique platform for creativity and social engagement. Your mix of art, knowledge, and social action is something truly special and vital for our community.

The idea that BAK might not continue to receive funding is hard to believe. The impact you have on artists and local communities is huge.
We need places like BAK that push boundaries and bring people together around important issues.

I really hope the decision-makers reconsider and recognize the invaluable role BAK plays in Utrecht. We need you now more than ever!

Mariana Jurado Rico. Artist and Organizer
I'm Mariana Jurado Rico, an artist and organizer, and I just had to reach out after hearing the shocking news about your funding. Honestly, I'm both heartbroken and furious. How could anyone think cutting funding for BAK is a good idea?
BAK has been a beacon of creativity and social engagement for all of us. The work you do is so important, and it's a place where artists and communities come together in such meaningful ways. Losing BAK would be a devastating blow to all of us who rely on and love what you do.
I really hope the decision-makers come to their senses and realize just how vital BAK is to Utrecht. We need your innovative spirit and your dedication to making the world a better place.

Espacio Estamos Bien
Espacio Estamos Bien is writing to express our heartfelt solidarity with BAK in light of the recent report from the Utrecht Advisory Committee on the Culture Memorandum 2025–2028. The proposal to discontinue funding for BAK is deeply troubling, and we want to emphasize how much BAK's presence has meant to us and to the broader community.
Having had the privilege of collaborating with BAK on multiple occasions, we have witnessed firsthand the profound impact your work has on artists, cultural practitioners, and the diverse communities you engage with. BAK's unique combination of art, knowledge, and social action creates a space where innovative ideas flourish and meaningful connections are made. This is not just a cultural institution; it is a vital hub of creativity, education, and social progress.
BAK has consistently provided a platform for critical discourse and artistic excellence, fostering an environment where both local and international talents can thrive. The significance of this role cannot be overstated, especially in a city like Utrecht, which prides itself on being a progressive haven. The absence of BAK would leave a substantial void in the cultural landscape of Utrecht, depriving the city of an essential resource for creative and intellectual development.
The decision to potentially defund BAK is not only a disservice to the institution but to the entire cultural ecosystem of Utrecht and beyond. BAK's efforts to integrate social themes into their programming, their commitment to high artistic standards, and their ability to make complex content accessible to a wider audience are invaluable. It is crucial for the policymakers to recognize and preserve this unique institution that significantly contributes to the cultural and social fabric of our community.
We urge the decision-makers to reconsider this proposal and to acknowledge the indispensable role that BAK plays. The work done by BAK is more important now than ever, in times of growing social and political challenges. We need institutions like BAK to continue inspiring, educating, and connecting us.
Thank you for all that you do. We stand with you in solidarity and support.

Black Earth Events, Utrecht
We do stand in solidarity with you all as people dedicated to re-imagining institutions as portals with porous walls where encounters, contaminations and propositive critical confrontations can happen. Community Portal/Civic Praxis and bAK, have given us and many initiatives focused on DIY, self-organised and non-commercial music-art scenes a place to play, perform, gather, share knowledge and connect with the extended local, hyper-local and international community .
We witness, in Utrecht, a desolate musical and cultural landscape where decision makers and politicians preach diversity and inclusion while cultivating monoculture; are surrounded by a constant shortage of affordable/ free spaces for free art and culture; are choked by the tight of gentrification that does everything but allowing diversity to thrive.
In this picture we can only hope that the municipality of Utrecht will reconsider the defunding of BAK.

We need more, not less spaces. We need Community oriented institutions and need to value the ones, like BAK, that have dedicated time and resources in creating platforms, like Community Portal/Civic Praxis, where conversations can happen and where critical confrontations are welcome.
We urge the municipality of Utrecht to be progressive, to sound different, to think again about what they mean when defining "Communities" and their institutional and non-institutional support networks.

Lisa Heinis. Hoofd educatie en publieksbegeleiding Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Als museumprofessional is BAK voor mij een zeer belangrijke organisatie in Nederland. Het programma, maar ook de publicaties, volg ik en grijp ik ook vaak naar terug om inspiratie te vinden. Niet alleen omdat BAK op inhoudelijk/theoretisch niveau niet moet onderdoen voor gelijkaardige internationale organisaties en instituten, maar ook omdat het theorie weet om te zetten in een praktijk die toegankelijk en zichtbaar is. Het is nét deze koppeling tussen theorie en praktijk die zo enorm moeilijk te maken is, maar enorm van belang is.

Alleen al persoonlijk zou ik oprecht BAK als instituut in Nederland missen, en daar ben ik niet alleen in. De impact van het programma s niet enkel en alleen te meten in cijfers en bezoekersaantallen. Deze is ook terug te vinden in de ervaringen van deelnemers, mensen die hier gewerkt hebben en het bredere hedendaagse kunst discours in Nederland. Waar ik vooral kennis heb van het laatste, denk ik dat BAK echt een impact heeft op mijn werk als museummedewerker. Het is voor mij ondenkbaar dat de bijdrage die BAK al zo lang levert als instituut niet meer (h)erkent wordt.

Francisco Baquerizo Racines
As a visual artist living in Utrecht, I have found BAK to be an important space that has hosted diverse cultural practices, narratives, and initiatives addressing global issues. It is crucial to recognize the significance of spaces that integrate social issues within the arts.

I had my first exhibition in the Netherlands at Bak, which was the graduation show for the only Master in Fine Arts program in the city (HKU MAFA). It is one of the two art spaces that collaborates closely with the only art academy in Utrecht.

Losing Bak would be a significant blow to Dutch culture. One of the country's weaknesses is the limited access to global issues that affect everyone, not just the so-called "others." Suporting it is essential for fostering a broader understanding of these critical issues.

Leire Vergara. Curator, educator, co-director of Bulegoa
I am sending this note to show my solidarity with BAK and its importance within the international contemporary art context. BAK has stood out all these years for its brilliant and daring program, becoming thus a model for artistic production and thought. It would be a great loss for the art scene of today to lose its presence and therefore, I am very concerned about the possible ending of its funding. I would like to express that we need BAK more than ever in these difficult years we are living through. We need BAK to continue to provide spaces for artistic experimentation and social activation. We cannot lose it.

Margherita
As a progressive, inclusive and cultural city Utrecht deeply needs platforms like BAK.
In the years of its existence BAK proved to be a space where people can learn how to be, how to create, how to connect, how to think outside the box.
There are so many incredible projects born in this prolific cradle, that personally put me in touch with unknown places in my own city, but also with people around the whole world. All this would be lost without BAK.
Dear Utrecht Gemeeente, we don't need another shopping mall, or a fancy fountain, we need ateliers where beautiful artists can show a different reality, where music flows on different notes, where we can cook different food.
We need culture, and a safe space for nurturing its future."

Svenja Schennach
I hereby send you this message to support.
As artist and student I felt heared, understood and had a safe place to share my urgencies. It felt educating, intelligent, important and artistic-political being a part of bak‘s ART AS POLITICS course. After having left Arnhem and Utrecht as exchange student, I still follow its program and content and belief it is highly important to have such critical cultural spaces in a city. I wish we had BAK in Switzerland.
You, We need this space! Keep it financed please!

Marina Monsonís
As a responsible for the space, LA CUINA DEL MACBA. I am so sorry to hear about this proposal: "that BAK should not be financed in the coming years.". I think that such an important place committed to culture, art and politics should have support and respect. It's a great space. Inspiring and with so many valuable aspects for the art scene. Love and solidarity from La CUINA del @macba_barcelona. Let's keep working together!

Jonas Staal, artist, propaganda researcher and member of the Academy of Arts (AvK)
The decision of the Gemeente Utrecht to defund BAK is a grave mistake. It is a mistake because the task of municipalities and governing institutions is to support the deepening of democracy: people’s access to enjoy, defend and create their cultures. BAK is a “basis”, a base, for an enormous ecosystem of local, national and international artists, cultural workers, civil society and cooperatives of all kinds, who believe in a deep democracy. Many people in this network are not even recognized as citizens, but undocumented migrants and refugees, whose democratic rights are harbored better by BAK than by the state. In that sense, BAK prefigures, pre-enacts, pre-forms the deep democracy that could be in a time of terrible intersecting crises of rising authoritarianism, economic precarity, the forced mass movement of refugees and climate catastrophe. BAK is a collective exercise in being together otherwise, of living together otherwise, of creating the cultures that make democracies imaginable and possible, even – or exactly – at times anti-democratic forces are rising across the world. The Gemeente Utrecht can be proud of BAK, of this base for deep democracy, that it has supported over the years. Not just a space for contemporary art and culture, of transformative education for young and old, a meeting point for researchers and activists, but the foundation for deep democracies to come. Do not let the multi-year municipal investment in this major democratic cultural heritage go to waste. Mistakes can be made, it is not too late to revise the decision and continue to support the flourishing of deep democracy in Utrecht.

Judit Angel. Curator, director tranzitsk, Bratislava
I'm deeply dissapointed by such a proposal, it is even hard to believe that this could happen. For a long time the Netherlands has been a model for the long-term funding of individuals and insititutions/organisations with a progressive, critical, innovative agenda. In the multicrisis situation which affects all of us, long-term strategy and funding are invaluable. Only in this way can solutions be imagined and change happen. BAK Utrecht has been a visionary, highly progressive institution, an inspiring model for the internation scene, its continuity is a vital necessity.

Team Stranded FM
We at Stranded FM are very shocked to hear about the outcome of your 4-year funding request, especially since the advice was positive. We would like to let you know that we fully support BAK and your diverse programs. We said it before but our collaborations have been, and hopefully continue to be, a very important part of Stranded FM's development on a deeper level, helping us understand, research and (re)define what (online)radio is, our position and potential role within society, and what we want to be.

Sissel Marie Tonn. artist & arts organizer
In 2022 I was asked to make an artwork for the retirement of philosopher Rosi Braidotti, and in writing the small speech to accompany my work, i was taken back to the time I first encountered Rosi’s work: during a course at BAK, which was part of my masters program at KABK. This course was like no other, and no doubt the highlights of my education. Maria led it with a passion and personal touch unlike any of our other teachers, took time to know each of us and challenge our thinking in a way I have come to associate with the signature of BAK. She brought in not only the superstars of philosophy such as Rosi and Rick Dolphijn, but also important and life-changing sessions with activist undocumented people from the collective We Are Here. We were encouraged to throw ourselves into wild new projects, out there in the world, rather than within the confines of the academy. The course brought us together with students from HKU, broadening our network. Within the framework of Art and Politics (the name of the course) I learned the ramifications and responsibilities of what those two words mean for myself as a future artist. The sessions in Utrecht, and especially the collaboration I went on to do with We Are Here because of BAK and Maria, were truly life changing. BAK is indispensable in the Dutch critical art and philosophy ecosystem. If they cease to exist we have truly lost a unique space unlike any other in the country.

Christina Della Giustina, course leader and lecturer HKU Master Fine Art, and Annette Krauss, former course leader, and Professor for Art and Communication Practices at Angewandte, Vienna
With this letter, we - Christina Della Giustina, course leader and lecturer HKU Master Fine Art,and Annette Krauss, former course leader, and Professor for Art and Communication Practices at Angewandte, Vienna - wish to emphasize the significance of BAK - Basis voor Actuele Kunst Utrecht, as an indispensable, local and international cultural institution, for us at HKU, our students and the entire alumni network to collaborate with, uninterruptedly from 2017 onwards until now. Even before, BAK and the then one-year Master Fine Art at HKU - headed by Henk Slager – shared close working ties for ten years, a prerequisite for the current HKU Master Fine Art, that is vital for the Dutch art scene and its international discourse.

The vivid and engaged exchange with the BAK fellows, the active community portal, and the close collaboration towards HKU Master Fine Art Graduation Presentations and Events, for us are vital, mutual connecting points between the two institutions. They contribute to a flourishing and highly appreciated culture in Utrecht and beyond.

Thank you for your kind attention.
Sincerely Yours,
Christina Della Giustina and Annette Krauss

Paul Ziche. Utrecht University
BAK deserves all possible support – it is a unique centre for the visual arts in their full richness, but it also is much more: a centre for critical discussion, for interaction between university, the arts, and the public, a centre for critical engagement with urgent problems and a great showcase for how artistic practices can contribute to this critical engagement. In all of these functions it deserves all support: these functions require an independend, open, autonomous institution, and it would be an enormous loss if BAK’s role would be diminished due to financial concerns. In a city with many academic institutions, including academic institutions related to the arts, this kind of meeting point and creative centre can flourish, and it is also very much needed in order to work against institutional compartemantalization.
In my own experience with BAK (I am working at Utrecht University in the field of philosophy), I and my institute have profited importantly from BAK: we have held joint workshops/lectures that accompanied exhibitions, we had seminars for students in cooperation with BAK, we can attend our students to the activities at BAK. BAK’s way of combining the arts with theory and societal engagement makes these interactions possible. Let’s all join forces to keep this unique institution flourishing!

Mira Moussa. Volunteer
It is heartbreaking to hear the news about BAK funding being retracted :(

BAK is one of the few safe spaces I have found within the Netherlands where different people from various cultures, backgrounds, and gender identities can come together and be themselves.
The art curated by BAK and the fellowship programs run by BAK are always unique in the subject and message they bring across to society. They amplify the voices of communities that are often disregarded. It will be a shame to discontinue the funding to BAK and lose such a pillar within the Dutch culture! :(

I volunteered many times with BAK for running exhibitions and for various events. Each time I felt like I'm learning something new, and each time I felt like I am a part of a community that cares for each other.

I plead to the Utrecht Advisory Committee on the Culture Memorandum to keep funding BAK and preserve this essential pillar of Utrecht's culture and society.
I hope BAK continues the great work they have been doing for many years to come!

Natalia Sudova. Independent Curator
I want to express my heartfelt gratitude and support for the BAK during this difficult period. Its commitment to producing knowledge, opening its doors to students, faculty and the public, and hosting important events demonstrates its integral role in society.
It is with deep sadness that I learned that Gemeente Utrecht has stopped funding BAK for contemporary art. Every time I visited the BAK I was amazed by its visionary presence in the Dutch cultural landscape. It has always amazed me that such an extraordinary place is located not in such a large city as Amsterdam or The Hague, but in Utrecht - raising the significance of Utrecht in my eyes to a special cultural level. Utrecht can be proud to host BAK, a unique space that brings together the arts and academia, devoting its resources to creating meaningful change both locally and globally.
In my opinion, the connections that BAK maintains with the local and international community are invaluable and irreplaceable. It is impossible to imagine that this no longer exists.

Marta Keil
BAK is undoubtedly one of the leading institutions in the Netherlands that focuses on
artistic research and critical thinking. Its highly regarded position is recognised far beyond its
geopolitical location though. The community that BAK stimulates and supports transcends
geographic and administrative boundaries, providing a rather unique example of an art institution that is firmly rooted both locally and transnationally. Very few organisations are able to operate this way. And this is precisely why they are sorely needed - especially at a time of rising populism, several war fronts opening at the same time, and exhaustion caused by highly extractivist model of late capitalism.

I have been learning and thinking along with BAK for many years, drawing inspiration from
thought provoking gatherings, pioneering research, exceptional educational formats and rich publications that have provided a wonderful example of what an institution standing with and for a political cause can mean. As a performing arts curator, researcher and dramaturg, that was born and raised in Poland, I was nourished and inspired by the rigor od BAK’s thinking and by its artistic interventions. After relocating to Utrecht two years ago, I found my research shelter there.

Perhaps BAK’s relationships with the local field could be more nourished and strengthened - but this is a great indication of how to further develop BAK’s activities and not a reason to
defund it! I am absolutely convinced the presence of BAK in Utrecht’s artistic, cultural and social ecosystem is vital and we cannot afford to lose it.

My experience of working in country under extremely conservatist regime for eight years has taught me that cutting funding to art and culture organisations means destroying spaces for imagining and practicing other possible ways of inhabiting this world. And in times like these, we need them more urgently than ever. I have witnessed many institutions shrinking, closing, disappearing from the cultural map. I’ve seen many people leave the country, I have seen broken social relations, fragile communities being put at risk, rich ecosystems disintegrate. We cannot afford it anymore. Utrecht certainly cannot afford it.

Yuliia Elyas.
My naam is Yuliia Elyas. Als kunstenaar en inwoner van Utrecht vind ik dat het verlies van een cultureel instituut zoals BAK een groot gemis zou zijn voor mijn persoonlijke leer- en groeimogelijkheden. Als kunstenaar uit Oekraïne kan ik niet genoeg benadrukken hoe BAK ons op zoveel manieren heeft geholpen. Ze hebben belangrijke steun gegeven aan de gemeenschap van ontheemde mensen uit Oekraïne, bijvoorbeeld door geld in te zamelen en tentoonstellingen te organiseren voor Free filmers uit Mariupol. Op de lange termijn heeft BAK gesprekken bevorderd over hoe kennis wordt gedeeld in de academische wereld en andere instellingen, waardoor hun rol erg belangrijk is geworden.

Claude Nassar
Being an immigrant artist and researcher living in the Netherlands, over the past few years, BAK has provided a space in which it is possible to engage with Dutch society, while being a context where situations in my native environment could be explored and put in conversation with local social and political dynamics in the Netherlands, and with events in other localities. BAK offers an almost unique model of trans-cultural exchange where social issues are brought into the space by people engaged and affected by such issues, without the mediation of a representational exposition; demonstrating an institutional attitude that recognises the locality of Utrecht and of the Netherlands as multi-cultural. This approach provides space for marginal Dutch and international groups to explore issues and topics that are not normally part of the discourses of the cultural field. In this context, the lack of “concrete goals to increase audience impact”—when a “broader audience” is a generic and unspecified category—of BAK’s programs, must be seen as an effort to enable a space of cultural exchange while attempting to limit the commodification of marginal narratives, inherent to bringing social and political questions into the cultural sector.

It is sad to see such mode of instituting being assessed according to the same criteria that BAK puts into question. This is an assessment that diminishes the importance and urgency of the effort to find alternative criteria to evaluate cultural projects, and the effort required to maintain a space of cultural exchange while not exploiting such a platform as a marketing opportunity. This is a failure to understand what makes BAK and Utrecht a meeting point of various vibrant and generative collectives—who might have not crossed paths elsewhere and otherwise; a failure to see the value of such platform to both Utrecht and the various localities in which the peoples that convene at BAK are engaged with, and to recognise the importance of trans-local cultural interactions beyond parameters set according to the criteria of financial value. It is dispiriting to see such a shift in the municipality of Utrecht’s cultural policy, in a moment when intercultural interactions are of utmost importance; and instead advising measures that require of BAK to turn the sensitive topics they make space for, into products that flatten the complexities of today’s social dynamics in favour of economic profitability.

Isshaq Albarbary. Former Fellow.
Dear Members of the Utrecht City Council,

I am writing to express my deep concern and disappointment over the recent decision to cut funding for BAK, basis voor actuele kunst. This decision threatens to undermine a critical cultural and social institution that has been a cornerstone for artistic and political engagement in Utrecht and beyond.

In 2016, I had the privilege of participating in the Here We Are Academy: Learning from the Forum at BAK. This program opened doors for challenging and meaningful discussions about the dynamics between refugees, locals and international citizens. BAK excelled in breaking down traditional categorizations, offering a unique space where undocumented refugees, citizens, immigrants, students, artists, cultural practitioners, and academics from both near and far could unite. Together, we collaborated to create new languages that bridge artistic expression and political action, allowing us to better navigate and articulate the complexities of our world. BAK's role in nurturing such a diverse and inclusive environment is unmatched and vital for our community.

My journey with BAK continued when I joined the Fellowship Program, Proposition for Non-Fascist Living, in 2017–2018. This post-academic fellowship program continues to be a beacon of hope and learning at a time when fascism and extreme right-wing ideologies are gaining momentum globally. BAK’s initiatives are not just about art; they are about using art as a tool for social change, fostering dialogue, and challenging oppressive narratives. The need for such a platform is more urgent than ever as we face increasing cultural and political polarization. It is both surprising and concerning that support for BAK would be withdrawn at such a critical time.

BAK has been instrumental in developing my practice and career as an artist. The opportunities, mentorship, and resources provided by BAK have allowed me to expand my artistic and intellectual horizons in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. The impact of BAK on my professional growth and achievements cannot be overstated; without the support and nurturing environment BAK offers, I would not be where I am today.

Cutting funds for BAK is a decision that will have far-reaching negative consequences. Their programs and exhibitions offer essential contributions to the cultural and social fabric of Utrecht, the Netherlands, and the global community. The institution provides a sanctuary for critical discourse, creative exploration, and communal learning—elements that are indispensable in our current socio-political climate. Withdrawal of financial support from BAK would not only harm the art community but also deprive many of its progressive initiatives aimed at addressing local and global issues. Your support for BAK is crucial for confronting the divisions and addressing the injustices that plague our world today.

I urge the Utrecht City Council to reconsider its decision and to continue funding BAK. Supporting BAK is not just an investment in the arts; it is an investment in our collective future.

Juan Pablo Pacheco Bejarano. Artist, researcher and educator.
Last year I was a resident at the Jan van Eyck academie in Maastricht, and I was invited to participate in an event at BAK by Colombian artist Santiago Pinyol, resident in Rotterdam and Professor at the Willem de Kooning Academie. We created the event "Sancochotopia: A Winter Ultrahospitality Mini Garage School", where we came together with collectives from the neighborhood working around topics of migration and food. During this event, we came together from multiple places in the world and in the Netherlands to create a space of open exchange, conviviality, and food sharing at the De Voorkamer in the Lombok neighborhood. This space was truly special, bringing together different languages and life stories through the common practice of a community soup. Through this event, I learned about Utrecht, its many communities, and about the food politics that enable both a critical perspective on our reality as well as a space of joy amongst people that otherwise wouldn't necessarily meet. I hope these spaces that BAK facilitates can continue to be funded, since they are fundamental for creating strong community bonds and expanding the possibilities of art into communities that otherwise wouldn't have access to these spaces.

cheers and long live BAK! <3

Kirsten Algera. Editor-in-Chief MacGuffin – The Life of Things.
I am shocked that the Kleur Bekennen report, released this week, recommends that BAK should no longer be funded in the coming years. As a lecturer at the Utrecht school of the Arts (HKU) and an editor and curator working internationally, I know how important a place like BAK is for a broad audience of students, makers and culturally interested people. It is a meaningful platform for young talent and an incubator for the merging of art, design and social action - not only in Utrecht, but worldwide. The knowledge that BAK gained over many years should be nurtured. I hope you will reconsider this advice.

Kristina Orszaghova, PhD candidate at the Charles University in Prague, Visiting doctoral fellow at the Department of Gender Studies, Central European.
As I find myself in Slovakia where only yesterday a new law was passed that severely endangers and intervenes with the freedom of art and artistic praxis, the news about the proposal to defund BAK are crashing and infuriating. It has been 8 years since I graduated from HKU and 8 years since I came to know BAK. In those years I have collaborated closely with BAK and its artistic director Maria Hlavajova. Together for three successful years, we co-organized an extension of BAK Summer School in Slovakia titled Bratislava BAK Summer School. This summer school intended to bring the discourse of BAK to a different social, cultural, and political space of predominantly former socialist states, to examine, translate and test this discourse, its possibilities, and limits as it transes borders, languages, and bodies. Through Maria, the knowledge assembled thanks to BAK and the extraordinary artists, academics, activists, scholars, people committed to the world and social justice, this knowledge travelled to the spaces of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, a major art institution in Slovakia. As the semester is coming close to the end and I am evaluating bachelor and diploma works at this very institution, I am honoured to witness how profoundly this knowledge influenced not only the artistic praxis of the students and artists but also the ways they relate to the world and others. And this is the influence I can observe right now knowing that the materialisation of the changes that BAK ignited is yet to come. I could keep writing pages about how the encounter with BAK has changed me, the friendships it has brought me, and the conditions it provided me with to feel joy and resilience in times when I wanted to despair. Here, in Slovakia, the law has passed, and the changes are inevitably on its way. In Utrecht, you still have a chance. Art is sustenance. It is vital.

Mary Janssen. Artist, art educator.
It is truly sorry to learn about the negative result of Kleur Bekennen for BAK. To me BAK represents a unique Centre for political and critical art and dialogue. A space that functions as platform to voice and experience critical forms of (communal) art and art education. This very specific interest is a niche and valuable at the level of the municipality, national and even extends boundaries. Hope that the commitee is able to revise their judgement and recognises the value of a broad and diverse artistic cultural field.

Phil Gatenby, Practising Artist
Please review and retain this email in response to the stark news of the Utrecht City proposition to de-fund BAK, disenfranchise its visual arts offer and refute the agency of its culturally invested work. I urge Utrecht City to reconsider the proposal to defund this resource.

I live in North East UK (Stockton on Tees) and make regular and frequent visits to Utrecht City, specifically to know and understand more about what I consider to be an enlightened and progressive arts ecology. BAK carries an especially important role to enhance post academic visual arts research, build social cohesion, enliven social foresight and thereby refresh communitarian agency.

I treasure the opportunity to participate in, share and witness BAK deliver its core objectives - albeit mostly from the UK. Connectivity with arts ecologies in and across the EU is a measure of social cohesion. Prompting memory of former displaced societies re-awakening from being silenced: ‘Opposing paths must meet somewhere’ DOX Museum Prague. This is no time for backward steps.

Hendrik Folkerts, Curator of Contemporary Art and Head of Exhibitions, Moderna Museet, Stockholm
When I was a young Art History-student in Amsterdam in the early 2000s, BAK was a beacon of knowledge and experiment. I would go there to see something unexpected, something that would surprise me, and something that I could learn from. Since then, I have continued to follow BAK’s diverse and wide-ranging program. It remains a unique space in Utrecht and the Dutch cultural landscapes that dares to engage with the tough questions, highlights which conversations we need to have to make our societies stronger and more inclusive, but also makes a space for great artists and writers. I am voicing my strong support for the funding to BAK to remain, so that the legacy of this singular contemporary art space can continue into the future.

Boris Ondreička, curator and artist, Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Amongst many other things, BAK basis voor actuele kunst belongs to the brightest beacons of in-depth expertise in arts, culture, social issues and politics planetary, not only for artistic communities but also for general intelligentsia. Its potential non-continuation will leave an irreplaceable wound of void on the map of global knowledge- and experience-production. Dear Utrecht Advisory Committee, please reconsider your negative plans. Because of BAK most brilliant minds of the world recognize your wonderful city.

Mark Kremer, Researcher/Curator, Amsterdam
I stand in solidarity with BAK, Utrecht.

The institution has done impressive work in the past, and it should be embraced by its partners, financial and otherwise, so that BAK can continue sharing knowledge, showing art & building communities of artists & others in the cultural field.

The current reality, where BAK is threatened with a sudden deprivation of essential funds, is surreal and above all unjust.

Catherine Koekoek. PhD researcher at Erasmus School of Philosophy & Curator at International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam
Bij deze betuig ik graag mijn steun en solidariteit aan BAK - een plek die absoluut moet voortbestaan!

De eerste keer dat ik in BAK kwam was bij de presentatie van de nieuwe feministische uitgeverij Chaos. Die avond zal ik niet snel vergeten: de hoop van een nieuwe feministische golf, de magie van het samenzijn. Dat gevoel heb ik sindsdien bij al mijn bezoeken aan BAK ervaren. De magie van onverwachte samenkomsten en ontmoetingen.

Het belang van kunst als sociale praktijk is in deze tijd van ecosociale crisis belangrijker dan ooit. BAK is daar een cruciale infrastructuur voor - als ontmoetingsplek, als tentoonstellingsplek, en als kennisinstelling. De boeken die door BAK zijn gepubliceerd zijn cruciaal geweest voor mijn eigen PhD-onderzoekstraject.

Tiiu Meiner. Curator & Writer
I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the recent funding cuts to BAK. Although I have not been employed by BAK myself, I have many friends and colleagues who have benefited immensely from their involvement with this organization. BAK has been a vital source for their livelihoods and has significantly contributed to the outreach and impact of their work.

BAK’s commitment to decolonial debates, queer rights, and various other critical theories has been instrumental in fostering a compassionate, considerate, and inclusive society. These discussions are crucial for societal growth and development, promoting understanding and respect among diverse communities.

At a time when multiple atrocities against human rights are being committed, inequality is rising between classes, genders, and minority cultures, and civil unrest is growing against the ruling class and its oppressive grab for power and conservative ideals, I cannot help but feel the government is deliberately taking steps to ignore cultural development because it is not in their interest to be criticized. This lack of trust in my government is also a threat to society, and these kinds of decisions only widen the divide in our country.

The lack of funding for such spaces fills me with profound fear, as it seems to signal the onset of a more censorious society. The diminishing support for BAK not only threatens the organization itself but also severely limits the opportunities for other artists, audiences and thinkers who rely on its platform. This reduction in funding undermines the capacity of BAK to support and nurture the critical and creative work that is essential for our collective progress.

I urge you to reconsider the funding cuts and recognize the indispensable role that BAK plays in advancing important social, cultural, and intellectual dialogues. The continued support of BAK is crucial for maintaining a healthy, diverse, and inclusive society.

Cristina Lavosi
During the six years I have been living and working as an artist in The Netherlands, BAK has always been an inspirational reference point for my practice and for the way I wish institutions can work with individual practitioners and society at large. I deeply admire BAK’s way of always taking a clear stance on socio-political subjects and standing on the side of marginalised communities; this is not a given for art institutions and, especially today, we need truly collective and engaged organisations like BAK that are able not only to make us deeply reflect on current issues but also confront with our own duty and implications as artists. I always followed BAK’s program, and I participated in many of their initiatives, such as the course Art as Politics, their reading groups, and public conventions (such as Usufructuaries of Earth). Lately, I also had the pleasure to start a conversation to collaborate on an upcoming public event with the b.ASIC a.CTIVIST k.ITCHEN (b.a.k.), whose work as a community portal is outstanding and very necessary in these dark times. As my practice is socio-politically informed, most of the peers and tutors I met here throughout the years have come in contact with and learnt so much from BAK in some way or another, and I really cannot imagine how our community can do without it. Defunding such an important institution is a mistake and I wish the Gemeente Utrecht will reconsider its decision.

Prof. Dr. Christa-Maria (Mia) Lerm Hayes.
Hoogleraar Moderne en Hedendaagse Kunstgeschiedenis. Universiteit van Amsterdam.

It is with disbelief that I hear the (preliminary) funding decision, which I hope will be revised.
So many students I have taken to BAK to see the exhibitions, participate in events, discuss and learn. A good number of them have worked as interns, learning more than the daily routine of art spaces, but what the cultural and academic field can mean for each other. This is where the future imaginaries are developed, which are so important for us to tackle the challenges of this world, its climate catastrophe, shortfalls in equality and justice, as well as community-building head-on. BAK is the envy of my international research partners: what the Dutch cultural sector is renowned for and from where it derives its standing. It is so rare that one finds this kind of high-level partnership between university-based and art space-based research and action: above disciplines and guided by what are still common values.

Evanne Nowak, zelfstandig programmamaker, deelnemer BAK Summer School 2018
In 2018 had ik het privilege om deel te nemen aan de BAK Summer School - Art in the Otherwise. Het is me bijgebleven als een enorm uitdagende, stimulerende en verbindende leeromgeving, die me hielp om ernstig veranderende tijden te bevatten en te beïnvloeden. Ik kon me daar optrekken aan de geleefde wijsheid en intellectuele scherpte van internationale deelnemers, die dikwijls uit landen kwamen waar vrijheid en mensenrechten al veel meer onder druk stonden.

De Summer School heeft mijn praktijk sterk beïnvloed, en geïnspireerd om voorbij kritiek te komen, voorbij het beschrijven van misstanden, maar om telkens weer tot nieuwe voorstellen te komen voor een andere wereld. En dat werkt nog steeds door in de programma’s en projecten die ik de afgelopen jaren ontwikkelde voor een breed publiek - van TivoliVredenburg tot ARTIS.

Ik vind het besluit om deze vrijplaats - deze unieke plek van intellectuele moed, scherpte en reflectieve samenkomst - niet langer te ondersteunen, onbegrijpelijk; zeker in een tijd waarin universele mensenrechten onder druk staan en waarin extreemrechts wordt genormaliseerd.

Thomas van 't Groenewout
BAK is zo'n belangrijke plek voor alternatieve geluiden en stemmen die anders ongehoord blijven. Het is onbegrijpelijk dat er zo lichtzinnig om kan worden gegaan met een instelling die zoveel bijdraagt aan de identiteit, diversiteit en durf van het Utrechtse culturele landschap. De gemeente Utrecht zou plekken als BAK moeten koesteren.

Beeldende en digitale kunst in Nederland wordt al jarenlang steeds meer kaalgeplukt, en het is enorm zorgwekkend dat Utrecht hier zo gewillig in mee lijkt te gaan.

Stefano Harney. Professor of Transversal Aesthetics. Kunsthochschule fùr Medien Köln
I have followed the work of BAK for many years, and contributed to it in a small way whenever I could. BAK is an exemplary urban arts organization. BAK is integrated into the city, responsive to it, and incalculably beneficial to it. The funding provided to BAK blossoms into cultural capital for the city that far outpaces the initial investment. Utrecht enjoys its reputation as a sophisticated city in no small part due to BAK. Unfortunately we know that private funders rarely maintain the long view and neutrality to make similar kinds of investments, if they can be attracted at all. It is imperative that the City of Utrecht recognize the social wealth BAK has generated and continues to invest in it.

Xandra Nibbeling. Hoofdredacteur BK-informatie
Natuurlijk zijn we solidair met jullie. Bak moet blijven! Heel veel succes gewenst met deze actie!!

Olivier Baume
Si le BAK n'est plus financé par la municipalité c'est une honte!!!!!

BAK has undergone for 24 years à fondamental réflection on art Institutions and the reform. Should à municipality such as Utrecht be afraid by such outsanding work at à time where institutions should always be questionned?

NO!!!!

As a french born peeson BAK has enlightened my parhway in art meaning.

I am more than devastated by such stupidity!

Nick Aikens. Managing Editor and Research Responsible L'Internationale Online.
BAK is a vital, critical voice within the Utrecht, Dutch and international cultural context. Their voice; the voices and practices they assemble, are essential if we are to collectively imagine more just, inhabitable, joyous worlds. This work can not be put off and BAK have the tools, network and expertise required to make a major contribution. I wholeheartedly hope they will receive the backing they need from their funders

Angela Dimitrakaki. Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory. University of Edinburgh.
It is indeed with shock and disbelief that the European contemporary arts community is receiving the news that the jewel in the crown of European contemporary art institutions - BAK in Utrecht - is threatened with loss of its funding. This must not happen: it will be a collective loss of hope about the immediate future of art and socially committed art institutions in the continent. Who would like to be associated with depriving the public from the arts infrastructure that BAK provides? The only logical answer is: no one.

BAK was carefully selected by the Innovative Training Network FEINART (The Future of Independent Art Spaces in a Period of Socially Engaged Art), funded by Horizon 2020 and focused on socially engaged art, as a Partner Organisation. I personally recommended it (though anyone would have) as BAK and 'contemporary art in Europe' are virtually synonymous: all countries wanted and needed, and still want and need, their BAK. BAK has pioneered an opening of visual art to both society and research. Under a leadership of sustained excellence and a fantastic (imaginative, knowledgeable, socially committed) team of people, BAK has defined the trajectory of contemporary art in the continent and beyond. BAK has been doing this for nearly a quarter of a century, and has introduced to the international community the most engaging art from the Netherlands and beyond. Moreover, BAK has consistently shown the social value of visual arts for diverse publics.

BAK has been a reason for envying the Netherlands and Utrecht in particular. BAK has made history and is discussed in published research, including books and doctoral theses. BAK has crafted a wonderful intersection of aesthetic and social knowledge. Threatening closure of BAK by removing core public funding would send a terrible message to the European art scenes: that there is a clear disconnect between those who manage public funding in the arts and those who generate and demonstrate the value of contemporary art for individuals and communities. Undermining BAK by removing public funding would be a blow to contemporary artists, researchers and the public - not only in Utrecht, not only in the Netherlands. Everything should be done to show the fallacy of such advice, which stands against the public interest. European society cannot afford the loss or even containment of BAK, and it is hoped that the misguided advice against funding BAK will be retracted and replaced with the advice to support BAK and any institution like BAK.


Catherine E. Van Olden, GSA school of Design
As a researcher and activist designer, I would like to highlight the importance of Basis voor Actuele Kunst Utrecht (BAK) as a vital local and global cultural institution for critical studies. Without BAK, imagine what our exploring world's theoretical futures might be like!

JASPER COPPES, ARTIST, TUTOR ROYAL ACADEMY OF ART THE HAGUE, GERRIT RIETVELD ACADEMIE
I can hardly count the number of times that the exhibitions and public events at BAK have inspired my understanding of the social impact of artistic practice. It's hard to believe that Utrecht would consider jeopardizing this invaluable resource. As a tutor in artistic research, I can attest to the indispensable role that BAK has played as a stepping stone for our graduates, providing them with opportunities to exhibit and further develop their work. BAK is such a vital foundation for the international arts community!
Transcription
Dit is een bericht voor de commissie die in Utrecht verantwoordelijk is het toekennen van de kunsten gelden. Ik wil een boodschap uitspreken van solidariteit voor Basis voor actuele kunst Utrecht, BAK, dus. Zij hebben van u op hun aanvraag nul op het rekwest gekregen. En dat kan natuurlijk helemaal niet, want het is een instituut verantwoordelijk voor het uitzetten van enorme netwerken. Ik zelf heb als activist, onderzoeker en maker daardoor een ontwikkeling doorgemaakt die bijna niet onder woorden te brengen is.

Als ik een poging zou wagen zou u mij wellicht helemaal niet geloven. Maar ik ben in contact gekomen met mensen, boeken, denkwijzen, vormen van maken en manieren van samenkomen die enorm veel impact heeft gehad op mijn beroepspraktijk. En daarnaast is het zo dat ik mij op zo'n manier heb ontwikkeld dat er een situatie ontstond waarbij ik kritisch was op het functioneren van BAK. En wat is nou de crux van BAK? Dat het instituut je dan omarmt! Omdat ze geloven in het bieden van een platform die het hele instituut verder brengen. Samenwerken richting anders samen zijn. En het is een instituut wat zich ook niet richt op een thema, maar breed uitgezet mensen helpt ontwikkelen. Mensen helpt ontwikkelen bij het organiseren van sociale rechtvaardigheid projecten.

En sinds de samenwerking met Jeanne van Heeswijk ben ik meerdere malen uitgenodigd om toegankelijkheid, als iemand met een beperking en chronische ziekte, pontificaal op de agenda de plaatsen en dat biedt weleens wrijving op maar zoals ik al zei dat wordt binnen dit instituut aangejaagd, uitgenodigd en gestimuleerd. En die netwerken die BAK heeft uitgezet, naast de enorme bibliotheek die zij aan teksten hebben ontwikkeld en de enorme hoeveelheid makers die zij hebben gestimuleerd om hun werk verder te ontwikkelen, dat is gewoon niet zomaar te vervangen. Daar moeten we zuinig op zijn. Dat is een investering, een fundament, waar de stad Utrecht heel goed voor moet zorgen. En dat wilde ik u graag op het hart drukken. Dank voor uw tijd en aandacht.

Katherine Adams
I was shocked to learn of the recent abrupt proposal for ceasing funding to BAK. I am a curator based in New York, and I'm writing to share the impact that BAK has had on me and to provide testimony to the international impact of the organization's activities. The program at BAK has inspired me for years, even when I was not able to see its exhibitions in person.

The research and publication generated out of BAK's past Former West project was highly formative for my work and is an ongoing reference for me in my curatorial practice. More recently, I have always looked to BAK as a model of innovative research and groundbreaking programming. Incidentally, I am taking a research trip to Amsterdam for my job later this month and was planning on visiting Utrecht as well, while there, for the sole purpose of seeing the current public program at BAK. There is no other reason I would go out of my way to go to Utrecht other than to experience what is happening at BAK.

I sincerely hope the municipality's decision will be reversed in recognition of the crucial role BAK plays in both the local and international arts ecology.

Donica Buisman
For us BAK is essential to the ecosystem of the contemporary art scene in our city and beyond. It’s investigatory civil art practice is both locally embedded and internationally acknowledged. With this BAK not only provides a breeding ground for art and academic thinking within local communities, and contributes to imagining a new civil society, but it also makes the much needed connection between the local and the global. This is vital to the whole ecosystem for art practice in relation to civil engagement and community work in Utrecht.

We acknowledge BAK is a frontrunner in an academic art practice that searches for much needed innovations in civil society in co-creation with the related communities themselves. This is not any easy task and we wholly support that BAK remains a vital part of the cultural ecosystem of Utrecht.

Ludovica Fales
Bak is a groundbreaking space where an extremely innovative union of art and conceptual frameworks are combined and made available to a big and diverse community. It is an inclusive, international, vibrant exhibition and discussiom space, led by extremely bright and competent people. It is a vital space for art and discussion for an extended international community! Keep it open!!!!!

Deniz Buga
Art spaces and museums are the only available places for the ongoing civic education of a city's adult citizens, as cultural historian Clémentine Deliss highlights. For the residents of Utrecht and the Netherlands as a whole, BAK is an essential center for knowledge production, sharing, and education, and it must be the Utrecht Municipality's priority to protect and cherish BAK. One of BAK's main missions is to actively reach out to disadvantaged and minority groups and cross-cultural community building in Utrecht. In these times of growing inequality and injustice, BAK is a key social institution sustaining and contributing to social justice in the city.

Julian Ross
This is a solidarity message! I've enjoyed your shows, symposia, and events over the years, and as recently as last autumn 2023 took my students at Leiden University to visit the exhibition on works from Ukraine. BAK is an important cultural institution in Utrecht and the Netherlands, and is unique in bringing art and research in a way that goes beyond decoration and funder-pleading gestures. It'd be a huge loss to the Utrecht and Netherlands art community.

Luke Cohlen, Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons
Ik sta solidair met het bezwaar van BAK tegen de zware en naar mijn mening onterechte beslissing van de Gemeente Utrecht om de komende jaren geen subsidie te verstrekken. Juist in deze moeilijke, politiek-kritieke tijden is deze postacademische hub voor kunst, kennis, verbeelding en maatschappijkritiek, die zowel lokaal als internationaal bewezen dynamisch is, hard nodig. De keuze voor een alles-of-niets mentaliteit brengt een dergelijk instituut in gevaar. Geef ten minste een deel van de subsidie om het voortbestaan van BAK te waarborgen. Utrecht heeft BAK nodig, een instituut dat door haar schaalgrootte een unieke rol speelt in het ecosysteem, niet alleen in Utrecht, maar ook landelijk en wereldwijd.

Als medewerker van collega-instelling Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, en als terugkerend samenwerker met BAK via mijn betrokkenheid bij community-radio Stranded FM en als deelnemer van de BAK Summer School 2018 (waardoor ik BAK's relevantie op meerdere niveaus zonder enige twijfel onderschrijf), spreek ik samen met vele anderen uit het veld publiekelijk mijn steun uit om deze beslissing te herzien.

Aisha
I am an artist based in Groningen and Utrecht. My practice revolves around collective gatherings, archival research, and collective action through craft to promote cultural exchanges between middle eastern and western traditions in art. As an international student in the Netherlands, throughout my six years living here as a middle eastern woman I am concerned about the defunding of BAK. I have seen the influence of this institution in collaborating and providing safe spaces for voices to be heard and for practices to be integrated into the local scene. As a person that comes from a culture that has been oppressed I have learned how to censor myself and that became a lifestyle in which I knew that I’m not allowed to vocalise my necessities. BAK is the place where people like me that have lived through censorship and oppression are able to feel safe and have a platform to express inner concerns and struggles. We can be active in the art world freely which the help of institutions such as BAK. Our growing concern as people that operate within the cultural sphere is that as soon as certain bastions of free thinking and expression become targeted by municipal and political actions that our rights as free citizens become impressed upon. If BAK were to be defunded due to its growing vocal support of oppressed and marginalised communities then where will the line be drawn in self expression?

Severin van Beek
As an Utrecht based artist at the Radon studios and education organizer and teacher at high schools; I have worked project-based with BAK in the last 2 years. I sincerely see an urgent key-role in their program together with there artist for an awareness sociological in education as in awareness of wellbeing at schools.
I sincerely hope the Gemeente Utrecht will see the importance as it effects education, wellbeing and cultural existence.
I support BAK in there existence in Utrecht and in this fight for honest and important existence.

Prof. dr. Maarten Hajer
BAK is een baken van creativiteit dat we hard nodig hebben in onze radicale tijd. Juist het type werk dat BAK doet is van groot cultureel en maatschappelijk belang. We zitten vast in een groef en het is aan creatieven om nieuwe wegen te verkennen, de samenleving een spiegel voor te houden, kritisch te zijn, commitments te bevragen, enfin, allemaal zaken waar BAK mee bezig is.

Ik hoop dat de politiek in dit geval inziet dat BAK echt cultureel kapitaal is van de stad. Ik maak me bij dezen dus graag BIG voor BAK!

Taste Before You Waste Utrecht
Het is heel jammer om te horen dat BAK geen subside meer zal krijgen van
de gemeente Utrecht. BAK heeft ons en vele andere locale collectieven en
projecten uit utrecht vaak een plek gegeven om met anderen samen te
komen, te organiseren, te eten, te laten inspireren, te filosoferen etc.
Het zou een groot gemis zijn als dit niet meer mogelijk is vanwege de
volledige subsidieopschorting! BAK is een belangrijke plek voor ons en
de verschillende culturele en sociale initiatieven die er in utrecht en
(inter)nationaal zijn. Daarom hopen wij van harte dat jullie het besluit
heroverwegen en deze waardevolle plek in utrecht blijft subsidiëren!

Kader Attia
BAK is an essential element of not only Utrecht's, but the Netherland's and Europe's cultural landscape. The intellectual integrity and discipline with which the team there is leading their exhibition and public programs is an example by which all institutions in Europe should abide.
Institutions like BAK are also necessary for local audiences to give them access not only to a program of high quality, but to artists from all horizons who will lead them to question the environment in which they are living, who will open windows for reflection to them. This is especially important for younger people, to give them the opportunity to experience life, beauty, ethics, poetry and politics in the real world, away from algorithmic governance and its isolating echo chambers.

Luigi Coppola (artist and agroecologist, Belgium / Italy)
The news that the Municipality of Utrecht has decided to cut funding to Bak saddens me enormously because of what this institution represents for both european and international artists and cultural workers who, like me, believe that art can play a central role in the dynamics of social and cultural transformation of reality that is so necessary at this time of ecological and political crisis.
Bak is a reference point respected and recognised by all thanks to its rigorous, consistent and committed work. It is a fundamental place and institution for confronting and prefiguring new ways of social relations that respond to the most urgent demands coming from society. In my life and artistic journey Bak has been a fundamental reference, a unique place that has allowed me to focus my practice and research.
I am writing this heartfelt letter to ask you to reconsider this political choice that would risk depriving your city and the entire international community of a unique and visionary place, which has demonstrated through its history the ability to highlight the greatest cultural fractures that are crossing our era and to forcefully call art and cultural action to political and social responsibility.

Jinxiao Zhou
My name is Jinxiao Zhou. I have been living in Utrecht since 2018. As an artist based in Utrecht and a resident with tax responsibility in the municipality of Utrecht, I'd like to strongly ask the municipality of Utrecht to reconsider their decision of cutting off the budget for BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht.

I believe losing a cultural institute like BAK would be a loss of my personal learning and growth opportunity. It would also be a loss for Utrecht, the cultural and art field of the Netherlands. I even believe losing BAK would be a loss for the world's culture and art networks.

BAK is an important learning center for me. Not only when I was a student studying at HKU, but also after I finished my studies and became a professional artist, the discourses brought through its exhibitions and public programs have been an important inspiration and guide for me to keep challenging the boundaries of my own artistic practice. By integrating my artistic practice with social practice, I aim to look beyond and construct a better society. As far as I know, the artistic and academic influence of BAK is not only limited to the Netherlands or Europe. Its influence has also reached my fellow artists and friends who live in China and East Asia

I would also like to argue that it would be a loss for Utrecht as a city without BAK. I think BAK is a unique landmark and city identity card for Utrecht, which integrates art with academia. There is no second art and cultural institute like BAK in the Netherlands. Hence, every time visitors come to see me in Utrecht, I would proudly introduce BAK or take them to visit BAK, since it's a unique cultural landmark in Utrecht, and visitors can only experience it here. Furthermore, introducing BAK to visitors is also a way for me to advocate the values and ideas that I believe can make a better society, such as non-fascist living, decolonization, and feminism.

As a resident in Utrecht, I would like to request you to reconsider your negative decision regarding the financial support to BAK in 2025-2028.

Ruth Noack
It is with utter disbelief that I receive the news that the city of Utrecht has decided to cut its funding for BAK. Bak continues to be a beacon of art and research for the international community of contemporary art. It is an essential institution which we have come to count on. Please reconsider this decision.

Paulina Schulp, cultuurcoordinator Werkplaats Kindergemeenschap
BAK een bijzondere plek in Utrecht waar leerlingen, jongeren, maar ook ouderen natuurlijk, kennismaken met de veranderende maatschappij en wereld om hen heen. Burgerschap staat hoog ik het vaandel en iedere school moet verantwoorden bij de inspectie van onderwijs hoe wij leerlingen tot een wereldburger grootbrengen. En BAK organiseert tentoonstellingen en activiteiten die hiervoor van belang zijn. Op school hebben wij al vaker kunstwerken via BAK mogen tentoonstellen en konden alle leerlingen dit bekijken. Bij BAK komen leerlingen met bijzondere kunstuitingen in aanraking en worden zij zelf ook geactiveerd om kritisch na te denken over een betere wereld, mogen zij creëren en maken daardoor deel uit van deze wereld. De leerlingen die het Young fellows programma hebben meegemaakt en daarbij ook andere jongeren van andere scholen hebben ontmoet, hebben samengewerkt, vonden dit een zeer mooie en leerzame ervaring.
Juist in Utrecht een belangrijk kruispunt en plek van ontmoeting in ons land zou zo'n plek behouden moeten blijven.

Massimiliano Nicola Mollona
BAK is one of the most important spaces for contemporary art and culture in Europe. Its defunding is a blow to the cultural and political life of this world at a time in which critical thinking is badly needed. Returning to London from Marwa's powerful event Usufructuaries of the Eart, I was reminiscing of the same journey back with Mark Fisher and Nicolai Penzin already 10 years ago - for the Other Survivalism workshop. It was very early in the morning. The three of us, still half asleep, had to run to catch the train to Amsterdam, but once on the train, forgetting our exhaustion, started an intense intellectual exchange which would continue for years. Since then, BAK has been central in my cultural and affective life, opening up new paths for thinking and new friendships. I cannot imagine a future without BAK.

Bambi van Balen | Tools for Action
BAK is an important institution that embraces a holistic approach how art can be a vehicle for social change
With a variety of formats from intellectual reflection and discussion, exhibitions, collective decolonial study, the basic activist kitchen and critical making practices, BAK brings people together for crosspollination and exchange, weaving support networks for each other.
It is for this reason I found resonance here in my art-activist and collective dreaming practice.
In the course of the last two years, I have collaborated with the BAK Young Fellows programm (2024/25), the UPS exhibition(2024)and the Rainbow Warriors project for the St Maartens Parade.

In the current political climate, it is pivotal that institutions like BAK be supported as a beacon of hope for the cultural sector.

Andrea Knezović
I am writing to express my support for BAK —Basis voor Actuele Kunst, an extraordinary institution that has been at the forefront of contemporary art and social discourse. Being part of the BAK Research Fellowship Programme 2023/2024 has given me an incredible opportunity to engage in cross-disciplinary exchange with thinkers, artists, scholars and institutional stakeholders which would not be possible in any other context in Europe and further. As an individual deeply committed to the promotion and sustainability of contemporary art and cultural initiatives, I have witnessed firsthand the significant impact BAK has on both the local and international art scenes.

BAK is renowned for its unwavering commitment to exploring the intersections of art, knowledge, and activism. Through its diverse range of exhibitions, research projects, and public programs, BAK not only showcases pioneering works of contemporary art but also fosters critical discussions on pressing issues of the Utrecht cultural landscape. The institution serves as a crucial platform where artists, thinkers, and communities converge to engage in meaningful dialogues that challenge conventional perspectives and inspire transformative change. Moreover, BAK's innovative approach to curatorial practice and education makes it a vital educational resource for the Dutch artistic scene. The institution’s emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and its collaborations with academic and cultural institutions locally and globally enrich the cultural landscape and provide invaluable opportunities for both emerging and established artists to expand their horizons.

The impact of BAK extends beyond the art community. Its efforts to integrate art with socio-political activism play a pivotal role in fostering a more just and reflective society. By championing art that addresses climate change, social justice, and human rights, BAK encourages us all to consider our roles and responsibilities within our communities and the world at large.

BAK is an indispensable cultural asset that deserves continued support and recognition. Its visionary approach to contemporary art and its unwavering dedication to societal engagement and education are vital to our collective future. Supporting BAK means endorsing a progressive vision of art that inspires, and unites us.

I strongly advocate for the ongoing and future support of BAK and its essential contributions to Uthreth's socio-cultural development.

Francine Claassen, docent KUNST bovenbouw Gerrit Rietveld College Utrecht
De leerlingen van het Gerritrietveld college hebben bij BAK een workshop en expositie gezien/ ervaren die een maatschappelijke visie laat zien. Kunst die vooral gaat over hoe jij denkt over maatschappelijke issues. Hoe kun je een kritische blik over de maatschappij verbeelden in een kunstwerk? Graag willen we een brede kijk over kunst onderwijzen op het Gerrit Rietveld College en de visie van BAK is daar mede onderdeel van.

Vanessa Bronzina, Life's a Peach
We at Life's a Peach and BAK have been helping each other out for a few years already. Life's a Peach has been serving BAK local, organic vegan food at their meetings. Losing them would be losing a good local community connection. This cultural hub is what makes Utrecht such a bustling hub for expression and connection between politics and the arts. I really do hope we can keep supporting each other.

Kareem Shamsan, bak Young Fellow cohort 2, 2024
As an emerging artist, I have often struggled to find a platform where I can truly express myself and showcase my art. Discovering BAK was a turning point for me; it became a sanctuary where I connected with like-minded individuals my age who share the same passion for creativity and artistic expression. In a city like Utrecht, where art frequently receives little to no attention, BAK stands out as a vital space that nurtures and supports artists. Defunding BAK would not only diminish this crucial support system but also deliver a significant blow to the artistic community that relies on it. It would smother the creative voices of countless artists who have found a place to thrive and express themselves.

Friso Wiersum
As an Utrechter BAK is one the few institutions that makes me proud to be an Utrechter. When abroad and telling that once [not so long ago, in 2013, even though it feels like a lifetime sometimes] Utrecht was considered a city where neo-liberalism would meet the many alternatives, BAK is one of the examples that comes to mind. As a safe space for artistic exchange, for cultural research, for academic study, for ideological dissent, BAK should be cherished by all those that want our future to be better - more democratic, more inclusive, more caring.

BAK, and - for that matter - IMPAKT are few of the places in town that make one feel Utrecht is a city in bigger world, and that histories between that world and Utrecht need being re-narrated all the time. BAK is what Utrecht wants to be: a place you get to love once you dare to discover.

Zohra Zouaghi
I feel so so sorry for you about the decision the local authority made about the financial situation. To be honest, I just recently discovered BAK. I knew the name and initiative, but I recently had the chance to come inside the BAK building. You guys really made my day. I wasn’t even planning to visit you, was just walking by and then I stayed for 5 hours straight. Felt so safe with the BAK community, I wish I will have the opportunity to visit you more often in the future. I wish you good good good luck with the Gemeente Utrecht. Please tell them what a safe space you have for so many different people.

Yizhou Lin
Ik ben Yizhou. Ik was de leden uit een van de eerste Bak Young fellowship. Ik heb BAK leren kennen door mijn kunst docent. Door zijn overtuiging ben ik van start gegaan met het meedoen van die fellowship en heb ik ook voor het aller eerste echte serieuze kunstwerk gemaakt waar iedereen konden zien. De fellowship duurde maar enkele maanden, maar heeft mij een onvergetelijke ervaring gebracht. Nadat ik het zie merk zelf ook pas hoe Kunsten de anderen kunnen veranderen, overtuigen, en aan de denk laten zetten. Dat is juist wat we nodig hebben in deze huidige maatschappij. Bak laat de andere mogelijkheid van de Kunsten zien die een zeker grote impact kunnen brengen aan de maatschappij, aan de bewoners hier in en buiten deze stad. Als BAK niet meer bestaat, zou dat vernietigend zijn, niet alleen in de gebied van kunsten, maar ook voot de ontwikkeling van de maatschappij. Daarom zijn artiesten en mensen die artiesten willen worden of hier geïnteresseerd zijn woedend. WE HEBBEN INSTITUTIE ZOALS BAK HARD NODIG, BAK IS ONMISBAAR VOOR DE MAATSCHAPPIJ!

Met deze persoonlijke ervaringen en meningen wil ik me duidelijk maken dat stoppen te financiële voor BAK een terugkeer is van de ontwikkeling in de maatschappij en dat een slecht idee is van GEMEENTE UTRECHT.

Ik hoop dat deze mail een beetje kunnen helpen aan het terugkeren van de situatie. Ik ben Yizhou en ik ben niet mee eens met de beslissing van GEMEENTE UTRECHT.
Saskia Van Stein, Artistic and General Director of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR)
In shock by the news which reached me via instagram regarding the withdrawal of BAK’s funding. Please let me know if there is anything I can to to help, besides the notes of solidarity, which I have already posted on the socials. This is devastating news and such an enormous blow to the Dutch cultural landscape (and far beyond).

Your program is truly inspirational and unique in its specific, committed, forward facing and discourse generating outreach.

Gordon H. Williams
I am writing to urge the Utrecht municipality to reconsider their decision to recommend that BAK's funding be cut in the period of 2025-2028. As a student in Utrecht I got to know BAK through the HKU, attending exhibitions and events there on a regular basis. BAK played a crucial role in my ability to begin to connect to other artists and the art scene in Utrecht and in the Netherlands in general. Some highlights from my experiences at BAK were working on the installation for Jeanne van Heeswijk's exhibition and presenting the collective work conditions of togetherness with Charli Herrington and Hache Collective as part of the HKU graduation show. Now that I no longer live in Utrecht, BAK is one of the main spaces/cultural programs that brings me back to the city.

Selçuk Balamir
BAK offers a unique formula at the intersection of artistic practices, critical research and community engagement. Over the years, I have worked with BAK on publicly accessible, socially relevant and carefully crafted projects: we have organised housing rights trainings, interviewed climate organisers, held workshops with creative activists. During the pandemic, I was honoured to become a BAK Accomplice for my community organising, which allowed me to connect the collectives I represent with other like-minded communities, share knowledge, build lasting relationships and gain public visibility. There is no other organisation that can work with grassroots initiatives, and there is no better reason to come to Utrecht than to find out what (present and preferred) worlds we are reaching by walking through the portal in the Pauwstraat.


Gemma Carter
Dear gemeente utrecht

I am writing to express my heartfelt solidarity and support to B.A.K
during this challenging time as they face the difficult situation of
losing funding. their dedication to cultural spaces has made a
significant impact in our community, and it is truly disheartening to
hear about the financial challenges that they may be soon experiencing.

The work that B.A.K does is invaluable, and the positive influence it
has on the lives of artists and residents in Utrecht cannot be
overstated. their commitment has inspired many, including myself, and it
is my hope that they will continue to persevere despite these obstacles.

I would like to invite you (gemeente Utrecht) to please reconsider
cutting funding for B.A.K

Antoinette Vonder Mühll, Head BA Fine Arts together with Carl Johan Högberg
I wish you lots of positive strength in this difficult period of cuts, and may there be a different solution coming on the table.

With this email, I want to express my support for BAK, it is a place that is extremely dedicated to art and society and an important reference in our art education – a place for students to visit and learn about a broader and more profound scope of artistic practice and discourse.

Sandra Lange
Interacting with the institution has led me from isolation to connection. It has offered me the support necessary to transform my practice into one that serves others.

Ehsan Fardjadniya
With this email I would like to show my support for BAK.
Please let me know how to support more.

Berend Bombarius
Ik denk dat het heel jammer zou zijn als de financiering zou stoppen. Ik denk dat er in Utrecht plekken zoals BAK nodig zijn zodat mensen toegang hebben tot een plek waarin ideeën en kunst ontwikkeld kunnen worden die van belang zijn om op een prettige manier met elkaar te kunnen samenleven. Het is een plek die aandacht geeft aan de verschillende problemen, zowel op mondiaal als lokaal niveau, die we op dit moment hebben. Het is een plek waar diverse onderwerpen als inclusie, communitybuilding, koloniale geschiedenis, oorlog, en nog veel meer, de aandacht krijgen die ze op weinig andere plekken krijgen. Het is daarnaast voor mij niet alleen een plek waarin problemen worden benoemd, maar ook een plek waarin er aan de oplossing hiervan wordt gewerkt. BAK is voor mij een erg belangrijke plek waar praktijken, ideeën en inspiraties van sociale rechtvaardigheid en kunst samenkomen. Door een plek aan te bieden waar mensen met zeer diverse achtergronden bij elkaar komen wordt er een leeromgeving te gecreëerd die mij en anderen veel steun bieden. BAK is voor mij een plek waar verschillende community's altijd welkom zijn om samen te zijn, evenementen te organiseren en samen te werken zonder dat er direct een tegenprestatie tegenover staat. Kortom, BAK is heel belangrijk voor mij en voor Utrecht(ers)!!

Hera Chan
I write as a friend to BAK and as a cultural worker with a base in the Netherlands that has been nourished by the discursive, programmatic, and exhibition-based offerings BAK offers to the world. You may not know it the way I do, or the question of defunding would not cross your table. As a former participant of the De Appel Curatorial Programme and active member of the Dutch art community, I have come to value BAK as a unique space in the Netherlands. It is unique due to its ability to unite theory and practice. It is a place that bravely approaches the elephant in the room—whether that be citizenship, war, or fugitivity.

Though we have decried the shrinking public sphere and deteriorating structures of support offered to cultural workers, BAK has remained committed to holding space for agonism, confrontation, and debate. This upholds the very values of democracy and artistic practice, that in acts of assembly and expression, we can stand a chance to build something different together. It is not only disheartening to hear of this recent defunding of BAK as reported by the Utrecht Advisory Committee on the Cultural Memorandum 2025-2028 but contradictory to the place BAK holds in the hearts of those who actually reside in the city of Utrecht.

BAK’s international reputation for pushing the boundaries of artistic practice and taking radical interdisciplinary approaches must be protected. It is unequivocally a platform for public good, and must continue to be funded by said public. I am among the countless who believe in BAK.

Fay, former Bak Young Fellow
Bak is voor mij de plek waar ik veel jongeren maar ook volwassenen heb leren ken die hun passie voor kunst konden combineren met hun verlangen naar actie en gerechtigheid. Ik heb er mensen ontmoet die van verre kwamen om hier samen met anderen samen te werken en te strijden voor belangrijke zaken die relevant zijn voor de hele wereld. Bak is voor mij zelf de eerste stap geweest naar activisme en heeft mij gemotiveerd om meer kunst te maken omdat ik nu inzie hoeveel men kan bereiken met kunst. Daarnaast heb ik door Bak een boel goede vrienden en andere contacten kunnen maken. Als Bak niet meer de mogelijkheden heeft om zich te ontwikkelen, zou er een belangrijke ruimte verdwijnen voor veel (nieuwe en jonge) kunstenaars en activisten.

Sinne Hoogerwerf
bak was my first side job that fitted me, as a person and my interests. Not only the loving and kind atmosphere, but their goals and the (very important) message they want to send out in this world. they teached me that art and activism can be a powerful combination, and that it does not only inspire people, but also makes people think and start doing something about their own behavior in this society. BAK is not just art, BAK is change, BAK challenges people, but most importantly;
BAK MAKES THINGS HAPPEN.

Nubia Tossaint
My name is Nubia Tossaint and I’m 17 years old and one of the Young Fellows. And I think it’s a shame that a organisation like BAK won’t be funded anymore. BAK means a lot to me, especially as a young fellow. I am now working with the most amazing people on a project and come to learn a lot about, not only art, but also about political issues. BAK has a tons of events where politics is expressed through art. For example, they recently had a workshop on how to make propaganda signs about the suffering of the Palestinians. In addition to the art level, they also make really strong statements and help to improve the world. In addition, on a personal level, I currently am meeting really sweet people through BAK that I would never have met otherwise, they are a great inspiration for me. I'm talking about the other Young Fellows but also about the Fellows themselves, those who work at BAK. BAK is an important place for me and it would be a shame if such a beautiful and inspiring organization were to stop.

Merel Zwarts, artist, educator and community worker based in Utrecht
I want to share with you my disbelief about the results of the advisory committee for culture from Gemeente Utrecht.
As an Utrecht based artist and cultural organizer I’ve collaborated with BAK in recent years in many ways. I consider your program as urgent and relevant for society at large, as well as valuable for the city of Utrecht. You play a key role internationally, nationally and locally when it comes to art as political action. Therefore I cannot believe the decision of the advisory committee. I sincerely hope the Gemeente Utrecht will see the importance of your existence in the cultural (and political) ecosystem of Utrecht and grant you the money you need to continue in the future.
I support you in this fight for existence in Utrecht.

Paula Andrade da Silva Albuquerque
I am crushed beyond words about the financial situation you are now in due to the lack of support from the city of Utrecht for the coming years.

Francesco Zedde
I honestly cannot imagine a better place than BAK to spend public money for culture. Utrecht shouldn't do without BAK as much as any town desperately needs more spaces of this kind. As an independent artist at odds with mainstream entertainment and conformed market, this is a matter of survival.

Lorenzo Sandoval
It is very sad and shocking that a space with the type of progressive, inclusive and deep research you are making and providing faces the cut of funding.

It is incomprehensible that the recommendation is for cutting the funds after all the words that came before, as you shared online.

Chrit Verstappen, former volunteer
I think BAK is crucial for Utrecht, the way it offers something that museums and other places do not. BAK is unique for combining academic interest with politics and art. What has amazed me these last few years is how many people from different backgrounds BAK can bring together. What I liked about the program with Jeanne van Heeswijk was the way it tied in with communities on a grass roots level. As opposed to the stereotype of the rootless cosmopolitan, it shows how leftism should take the side of the local in a world of globalized capital. On this note I also liked the programming of BAK focused on community, such as preparing and eating a meal together or crafting something. There was always something to learn, through exhibitions and panel talks and workshops. And BAK is a hub for special knowledge on the intersection of activism, art and academia. I think this makes BAK a unique landmark for Utrecht. For our 'leftist' city to shut down this central node fits in with our current political climate of outright hate against anything intellectual. Together with the cuts for Impakt and Tweetakt this amounts to a desertification of the Utrecht landscape.
If there is anything we could do to support BAK, for now or its future form, I would be happy to contribute.

Josephine Chambers, Assistant Professor, Urban Futures Studio at Utrecht University
BAK has become a cornerstone of Utrecht culture and I can't imagine Utrecht without it. The spaces they convene are critical for building a sense of solidarity and community in Utrecht, especially for those who might otherwise feel at the margins. They combine artistic, critical and social methods in ways that are truly groundbreaking, and there is enormous potential to keep developing and applying these methods to contribute to a better society in Utrecht and beyond. For example, at the Urban Futures Studio at Utrecht University, we are co-convening an event with BAK this July which brings together some of the leading experts across the Netherlands and Europe on the role of arts in radically reimagining and remaking more just societies. These kinds of events generate the sorts of ideas and mobilization for how to work towards a better future, especially amidst the polarized politics of today. We could not have convened such a space without the incredible support and collaboration of BAK. They are one of the leading partners that we hope to continue collaborating going forward, and it would seriously diminish what we can achieve if they do not receive the funding to continue. I urge you to appeal this decision.
De steunbetuigingen op onze website zijn geschreven door derden en weerspiegelen niet noodzakelijkerwijs de standpunten van BAK.

BAK is een cruciale basis in Utrechts culturele ecosysteemReacties op onze 'Solidarity Call Out'