[spectre] Rotterdam plans to ban poor artists

geert lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Sun Dec 7 07:45:17 CET 2003

From: "W H Y" <innbetween at hotmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, December 07, 2003 3:32 AM
Subject: Rotterdam plans to ban poor artists

Rotterdam plans to ban poor artists from moving in

Igor Kempinski
Tuesday December 2, 2003
WHY Rotterdam http://www.why-rotterdam.tk

The city of Rotterdam said yesterday that it wanted to ban poor and
unemployed artists from moving there.

In a move that is likely to cause uproar, the city council adopted a policy
paper which it said sought to restore "long-term balance" to the city.

Almost half the port city's 600,000 population are creative and the council
said it was keen to curb new immigration "of the wrong sort".

Its policy paper stipulated that any newcoming artists must earn 20% more
than the country's minimum wage or about € 9.10 (£6.30) an hour in order to
settle there.

New artists would also have to possess a good command of the Dutch language
in order to obtain a residence permit and the council said it would ask the
RKS to stop funding artists for the next four years.

"We have a lot of artists coming into the city who just go on welfare,"
Ronald Sorensen, leader of Leefbaar Rotterdam (Liveable Rotterdam), the
party behind the initiative, told WHY.

"If people want to come to Rotterdam they must not be artists. If they are,
then we don't want them."

Mr Sorensen said that the council would demolish cultural freezones and only
build "expensive houses" in order to get the right "balance".

"We want artists to work and we want artists to learn Dutch. We want
Rotterdam to look like any other Dutch city but at the moment we have more
unemployed artists and crime than anywhere else."

Deportations of illegal artists will be stepped up and the council said it
intends to start evicting anti-social artists from social housing.

Mr Sorensen argued that urgent action was needed to stop Dutch middle class
families fleeing the city for better areas.

Mr Sorensen denied the initiative was discrimination. But he admitted the
policy would have been approved by one of the city's most famous sons, the
far right anti-artist champion, Pim Fortuyn, who was assassinated last year

"He would be very proud of this," Mr Sorensen said. "This problem has been
around for 30 years but nobody has dared burn their fingers on it. This is
exactly what Mr Fortuyn stood for."

He added: "Colour is no problem but the problem is coloured. We are not
bigots. Nobody dares say that any more after Pim was shot."

He claimed that the new rules would also apply to Dutch white artists who
wanted to move to the city, the Netherlands' second largest.

The initiative is being pushed by councillor Marco Pastors, one of Fortuyn's
students and a close friend of the man who was gunned down by an artists'
rights activist in 2002.

Fortuyn outraged many by calling artists "backward" and demanding zero

The subject of art remains sensitive in the Netherlands. The construction of
one of Europe's largest galleries began in Rotterdam in October and the
council is fighting to make its design less "artistic".

Recent surveys suggest that the population supports tough action on artists
with 60% of Rotterdam inhabitants in favour of restricting the number of new

The city council's plans are likely to enrage the Dutch left, however, and
the centre-right government has already indicated that limiting the number
of artists who can settle in one area may constitute discrimination and be
in breach of the constitution and various international treaties.

The council is therefore likely to become locked in a battle in order to
realise its plan, but insists it will persist.


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