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Studenten voelen zich tegengewerkt door gemeente

“We krijgen steeds meer het gevoel dat de gemeente ons soort activiteiten helemaal niet wil. Ze sturen bij het minste of geringste de politie op ons af, in ME-uitrusting zelfs.” Vorige week woensdagmiddag, op de gang buiten de zaal van de universiteitsraad blaast een groepje studenten nog even stoom af. Zojuist hebben ze op uitnodiging van de U-raad met de verantwoordelijke wethouder van de gemeente Maastricht gesproken, Jacques Costongs. Maar daar ging het niet over de politiehinder. Wel over de Muziekgieterij en het verbod op een aantal evenementen dat de gemeente daar heeft afgekondigd, en over panden aan de Boschstraat, de Ossekop en de Mandril. De studenten Aranyo Aarjan, Rouven Brües en Johannes Kempka organiseren met anderen op die locaties muziekfeesten, performances, optredens en wat dies meer zij. Evenementen waar vooral buitenlandse studenten op af komen maar waar de gemeente nu een stokje voor steekt. Twee grote feesten in de Muziekgieterij zijn verboden, de zaal zelf moet verhuizen. “Dat komt”, legde Costongs even daarvoor uit aan de U-raad, “omdat het bestemmingsplan eigenlijk helemaal geen muziekgebouw toestaat aan de Bankastraat. De gemeente heeft het gedoogd, de Muziekgieterij is een succes maar nu bewoners dreigden ons voor de rechter te slepen moesten we wel ingrijpen en de twee grootse evenementen verbieden. We studeren op een nieuwe locatie, misschien wordt dat de Platte Zoal aan de Griend. Zo lang er niets nieuws is blijven ze in de Bankastraat.”

De wethouder toonde zich een groot voorstander van eigenhandig door studenten georganiseerde feesten (“we willen juist jullie soort van activiteiten, daar moet plaats voor zijn in de stad, Maastricht moet opgeschud worden”) maar de studenten hechten daar vooralsnog weinig geloof aan. UCM-student Aranyo Aarsan na de bijeenkomst: “Waarom dan al die obstakels opwerpen? Waarom politie inzetten? De afgelopen maanden zijn we alleen maar tegengewerkt.”

Inmiddels hebben de studenten een open brief aan de wethouder gepubliceerd (zie Observantonline) en houden ze vrijdagmiddag 8 juni van 15.00 tot 21.00 uur een protestbijeenkomst in het stadspark onder het motto ‘stop de culturele uitsluiting’.

 

 

 

Wammes Bos

OPEN LETTER TO THE MAASTRICHT ALDERMAN FOR CULTURE,
Dhr. COSTONGS


Dear Mr. Costongs,
this letter should be the start of an open debate about the city of Maastricht, its University, its
students and the way these actors relate to the creation and shaping of ‘culture’ in Maastricht.
Maastricht together with its partners in the Euregio wants to become the European Capital of
Culture in 2018. However, simultaneously, a great deal of the city’s population has a strong feeling
that what they value as culture is continuously discredited and threatened by actions of the
municipality.
This group of people consists mostly, but not exclusively out of students. Students from all over the
world and the Netherlands, but also other locals non-affiliated with the University united by the fact
that they look for more and different than the cultural offer presented in student associations,
Platielstraat cafés, or the multitude of top-edge restaurants.
Over all these years we have created what we saw lacking in the city on our own: Art and
photography exhibitions by local artists and students; integrative theatre performances; pop-, rock-
, blues-, jazz-, hip-hop-concerts; open-air movie screenings; dance-events; whole festivals…the list
is quite extensive. Seldom, there was support by the municipality, but we still made it work: Most
was carried out by volunteers without any financial means wherever it was possible: In our own
private homes, outside, in squatted buildings like the Landbouwbelang, but also in collaboration
with local initiatives as the Muziekgieterij which used to be open for promising projects.
Currently, all this is under severe fire by authorities. As well known, the Muziekgieterij has to leave
its current premises very soon and a decision on its future has not been taken. Recently, this venue
received an order to not allow any student-driven events anymore, effectively illegalizing their effort
to broaden Maastricht’s cultural programme. Even worse, the students were left with a prohibition
and hundreds of Euros of costs for artist’s salaries, advertisement etc. The cultural centers in the
Boschstraat, Hotel Ossekop and Mandril, have been threatened with huge fines should they
continue to offer their space for open cultural projects of whatever kind. This leaves a steadily
growing group of people with almost no possible locations anymore to create a cultural offer that
they deem valuable. The only student-driven, licensed spaces are the buildings of Maastricht’s
student associations to which many (international) students cannot much relate to. Moreover, we
are not speaking about a small group of international students only: A petition to save the
Muziekgieterij has been signed by more than 1200 people within a few days!
However, these latest events just appear to be an unpleasant manifestation of what we perceive as
a structural problem in Maastricht: The municipality and the stakeholders involved in the Capital of
Culture-project seem to want to define culture along very rigid lines: A ‘sjiek en sjoen’ culture with
which especially large amounts of students cannot at all identify themselves. We accept that this is
part of the city and that another part of the community values it a lot. Yet, we demand the same
mutual acceptance of what we consider culturally enriching. Throwing stones in the way of citizens
who want to add to the cultural offer by closing down more and more open spaces does not come
across as an integrative approach. We want to be considered as equal citizens that should have
equal weight in the cultural community. Mayor Onno Hoes himself said during a meeting with a
group of students last year that the municipality has dramatically neglected the student population
of the city in the cultural program. Why not change that and make real use of the cultural capital in
our city to become a true Capital of Culture?!
Both the city, as well as the University should have an inherent interest to create an environment in
which all people living in Maastricht can find their spot. The University has great aspirations to
become truly international and could not want to receive bad feedback because (international)
students did not enjoy their stay besides the study. Yet, also the municipality should do all they can
to be an interesting place for students to stay living in after they graduated and look into their
future. A city that not only neglects what they demand from culture, but actively works against
promising projects does not at all have this appeal currently. Therefore, we request recognition and
space for our culture!
In detail, this translates into the urgent demand for a venue where open-access, student-driven,
cultural events can take place. This should be a place for everyone in Maastricht who aspires to
realize theatre, cinema, dance, music and art of any kind. Providing the necessary licenses such as
for instance those already issued to other student associations – night-license, a license to run a
bar – would finally legally recognize a non-commercial cultural platform. Such a place could be the
future-Muziekgieterij, but could potentially be other already existing spaces – unused buildings are
numerous in this beautiful city! We strongly believe that our vision and demand for such a platform
is realizable. We are eager to help finding solutions so that for instance old buildings and spaces fit
the security norms of today. Neighborhoods would have less annoyance and students would have
a cultural platform – a win-win situation – that in our eyes greatly contributes to the aspirations of
Maastricht to become the European Capital of Culture.
In order to bestow our concerns more support we have organized a demonstration in the stadpark
(Kempland) on June 8th. Mr Costongs, dear university council, we would hereby gladly invite you to
join us in our cause in the park next week. We would further officially like to ask you dear Mr.
Costongs, to do us the great honour and be part of the podium discussion to which we will invite
Onno Hoes and the Committee Maastricht Cultural Capital 2018 to further discuss the vision of
Maastricht.
We hope that you take up these remarks and demands seriously. At the same time, we would like
to strongly express that we want to address that issue in a positive and constructive manner being
an active part of the discussion and potential planning of such a step. Of course, we will always be
open to questions or concerns from your side as well.
 

Yours sincerely,
Aranyo Aarjan, Tobias Bünder, Rouven Brües (on behalf of the students)

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