We are pleased to invite you to the launch symposium of this site!

The Urban Commons of Culture, Past & Present

Wednesday April 4th, from 1 PM to 4.30 PM (followed by drinks)

 A Lab, Overhoeksplein 2, 1031 Amsterdam.


Commons are a hot topic, often presented as the ultimate solution for the challenges of our day and age. Whether we talk about social inequality, housing shortage, food scarcity, climate change, or access to arts and culture, the general idea seems to be that if we could only take matters back from in our own hands, away from greedy corporations and ineffective governments, the world would be a better and more inclusive place.

But how does shared ownership and self-organisation work? What do institutions for collective action in culture and the creative industries look like in practice? Who is in and who is out? How do their organisational cultures, with norms and rules, evolve over time? What (local) governance and market structures support or hinder them?  And ultimately, in what ways do they shape the success and resilience of urban culture and creativity?

We cannot promise to deliver on all of these questions, but on April 4th we’d like to make start with the following three themes:

1. Consumption, Production, and the Common Good – on social status and cultural capital in an age of precarity

2. Institutional Diversity  – on the relations between markets, governments, and institutions for collective action, and the potential to upscale

3. Agency, Inclusion, and Responsibility – on commons as a process, a set of social relations


12.30                         Doors open
13.00-13.15               Welcome

Immaterial Wealth and the Aspirational Class: The Expense of Cultural Capital in the 21st Century.

Keynote lecture by Elizabeth Currid-Halkett –  Chair in Urban and Regional Planning and professor of public policy at the Price School

Power to the urban imagination: The struggle over the redevelopment of Dutch city centres 1965-1980

Lecture by Tim Verlaan – Assistant professor, Urban History, University of Amsterdam
14.45-15.15                 Coffee & Tea

The Precarious/Creative City. Some thoughts on the urban commons

Column by Roel Griffioen – Journalist and PhD researcher, Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Ghent University

“Urban commons, an opportunity for what?”

Panel discussion with Floor Milikowski (journalist), Vera de Jong (Urban Connectors), Joachim Meerkerk (HvA/Pakhuis De Zwijger) on the promises and pitfalls of commons and other urban institutions for collective action. The panel is chaired by Marielle Hendriks (De Boekmanstichting).

16.30                       Closing remarks & drinks

Please register here (free of charge)!



The platform and the event are sponsored by the Research Priority Area’s Centre for Urban Studies and the Amsterdam Centre for Cultural Heritage and Identity /CREATE of the University of Amsterdam.