Vans Checkerboard Day: get to know the creative Meervaart Studio
Vans Checkerboard Day is a global initiative established to champion the power of creative expression around the world. The Sneaker District team is filled with a lot of creativity and because of this, we’ve decided to participate in this initiative! We would like to shine a little light on a creative organization from Amsterdam called: Meervaart Studio! Support Meervaart Studio by clicking HERE
Get to know Meervaart Studio and support creativity!
Meervaart Studio is based in Amsterdam West. It is a place for young people to stimulate and develop their creativity. Meervaart Studio has been helping young creatives for already 16 years and we are more than happy to give something in return to Meervaart Studio for their hard work. For this interview we’ve asked Rianca, member of the Meervaart Studio team, a couple of questions about what they do and how they think about creativity.
Who are you and what can people do with you?
Meervaart Studio is the place where young people from Amsterdam can discover and develop their creative talent. It is one of the talent development departments of the Meervaart. Meervaart Studio is for all Amsterdam youth between 15-25 years old, even if you have no experience at al. Within the various disciplines: music, theater, dance and media, Meervaart Studio offers long and short-term coaching programs. Not only the basic skills are discussed, but there is also room for deepening, experimenting, collaboration and creation. Meervaart Studio has a network of artists who, as coach, want to transfer their practical experience, knowledge and passion for the profession to our participants. We offer different workshops every season. A workshop lasts 6 weeks in which you learn the basic skills of your trade. You work in small groups on various assignments and increase your individual knowledge. If you want to deepen your knowledge, you can participate in a production group. We call this a Meervaart Studio “Lab”. In a Lab you work an average of 4 for months, with other upcoming talents, on your own music, films, mixtapes, choreography or performance. The living environment of young people is an important source of inspiration at the Labs. It is always about current topics and the theme is close to the experiences of young people, they contribute storylines themselves. We search for contemporary stories and we break through existing boxes. If you attend a workshop or a Lab at Meervaart Studio, you automatically become a Meervaart Studio member. This means that you can use our spaces and equipment to further practice your “craft”. We think this is super important, because by offering this young people the opportunity to develop further outside the curriculum and to develop their own identity discover as maker and artist.
What does creativity mean to you?
For us, creativity means being able to be completely yourself. Being able to express yourself, discover yourself. Experiment, feel, have fun and also be able & dare to make mistakes. And all this without rules, without limits.
What is it like to see people grow in their talents?
Super dope! That’s why we do this. Offering young people a place where they can be themselves. Their energy gives us positivity and drive to build. Sometimes youngsters are insecure but within a few years they blossom and become more confident. We have been around for 16 years and many participants have moved on to the creative industry. It makes us really proud to see them grow and some of them make their dreams come true.
Keep creating dope ass shit" till someone notices
How was the COVID period for you and your members?
It’s a really crazy period for us, but we continue to believe in the power of art. Especially in these times it is important that young people have a place where they can use their creativity. Fortunately we can continue with our lessons at Meervaart Studio, we are very grateful for that. Health comes first, but in addition to physical health, mental health is also whole important. Creativity is the outlet for this. In addition to learning new skills and abilities, the social aspect at Meervaart Studio is complete important. Young people here make friends for life. We are a community, a family. During the beginning of the first Lock down we did a lot online. Various online masterclasses, talks with our ambassadors, DJ live streams, dance lessons and an online art battle. In this way we could stimulate everyone to stay creative and we kept in touch. When we also had to close our doors in the past two weeks, we noticed that we are also having a hard time. It is difficult to continue to feel that community feeling with each other when the building is closed and you barely see and meet each other. In the past, it was always busy in our building. Many workshops overlapped each other, so that different participants from different workshop groups got to know each other. In this way, there were also exchanges and great collaborations. Fortunately, we should soon be able to open our doors again and welcome our participants again. However, at a distance and workshops with limited places. We hope that our old times will return soon.It’s a really crazy time for us, but we continue to believe in the power of art. Especially in these times it is important that young people have a place where they can use their creativity. We managed to continue with our lessons at Meervaart Studio, we are very grateful for that. Health comes first, but in addition to physical health, mental health is also very important. With us, creativity is the outlet for this. In addition to learning new skills and abilities, the social aspect at Meervaart Studio is necessary. Young people make friends for life at this place. We are a community, a family. During the beginning of the first Lock down we did a lot online. Various online masterclasses, talks with our ambassadors, DJ live streams, dance lessons and an online art battle. In this way we could stimulate everyone to stay creative and we kept in touch. When we had to close our doors in the past two weeks, we noticed that we were having a hard time as well. It is difficult to continue to feel that community feeling with each other when the building is closed and you barely see and meet each other. In the past, it was always busy in our building. Many workshops overlapped each other, so that different participants from different workshop groups got to know each other. In this way, there were also exchanges and great collaborations. We hope to open our doors soon and welcome our participants again. However only at distance and workshops with limited places. We hope that our old times will return soon.
How important is creativity to young people?
This is extremely important for young people. It is their outlet, their “safe space”, a way to be themselves, to express themselves and to find a place in the world. Especially in this current society, in which I think a lot is being asked of young people, young people are perhaps over-stimulated. Many young people are currently struggling with mental problems. Creativity is therefore indispensable. It contributes to the development of young people, to the formation of taste, identity and self-esteem. Inspiration, pleasure and knowledge acquired at an early stage help people to participate in cultural life later in life. De Meervaart therefore wants to introduce as many young people as possible to the value and beauty of the performing arts.
What is your ultimate goal?
Our ultimate goal is to guide young people in such a way that they can enroll in MBO or HBO art and culture courses and so that they can ultimately work independently in the creative sector. We are therefore very proud that many of our former participants have succeeded. We have pictures in our building of former participants who once started with us and are now working in the creative sector. Our goal is to contribute to a natural reflection of today’s society in the cultural sector. Everyone must be represented within the cultural sector. Every young person should be given the opportunity to develop according to their own taste and insight. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to get a stage for his / her artistic work. And while it is not our main goal, once the circle is complete it is very satisfying! The circle is complete when a former participant returns to the Meervaart as a player or maker or as a workshop teacher for the new generation of “creative people”. Or when you meet old acquaintances on the program at large festivals or other stages. Those are the moments when we as a team feel a collective sense of pride! Do you have any plans on the agenda? We want to refine and deepen our program in the coming years. We will continue to do what we do best, but we want to focus on quality. Over the years we have created our own working method and built up a large, loyal community. We have a super strong network and we now work together with institutes such as the Netherlands Film Academy and FOAM. Our activities remain incredibly popular: we even work for some workshop groups with waiting lists. The city is also growing and flourishing, with more and more Amsterdam residents joining. In New West alone, the growth in the number of inhabitants is enormous. We want to be able to welcome all ambitious and curious young Amsterdammers. That is why we are also looking forward to the new Meervaart to be built. The plans take into account more space for the surrounding programs talent development. As a team, we can already dream about what those studios will look like and which great programs and activities we can organize there. It’s nice to be able to be busy with something positive in this crazy time. Our programs will get an even better and better place and we can offer even better than now the quality that the target group deserves. We are very much looking forward to that.
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