Issue #23 Published: 18-03-2019 // Written by: Nicholas Burman

Critical Questions from AA Talk #04

Amsterdam Alternative hosted a panel session as part of the 2.Dh5 festival at the OT301 on February 23rd.

As part of an ongoing series of live events this paper is hosting, the talk was designed to discuss the nature and role of radical culture in Amsterdam. The session wasn’t without its drama, and many of the points raised are vital to consider as this paper and the alternative venue circuit in general continue to influence the general discourse.

For completists seeking an as-it-happened account, online broadcaster Radio Patapoe recorded the entire thing. The AA board and voluntary contributors will (and should) be heeding the advice, criticisms and feedback for future editions of the AA Talk series and for our content in general. In the meantime, below are a selection of some of the critical questions that arose over the two hours.

As always, what made the event necessary was the audience and their participation. We encourage you to get in touch with comments and suggestions, criticisms, article ideas, or events we should be covering. Maybe you could even help us answer one of the questions included below. Contact us through Facebook or via

Contributions made by:
Sam Heady (Free fringe festival), Aja Waalwijk (Zaal 100), Jaap Draaisma, Oscar Smit, Menno Grootveld (Radio Patapoe), Olga vd Berg (De nieuwe anita), Jeffrey Babcock, Mike Vermaak (ADEV), Dirk (Mobiele eenheid), Frank (SOTU festival), Oscar Jan Hoogland (Eddie de Eagle), Members of the audience

What is radical culture? Is its job to battle again vacuous entrepreneurship?
What does that look and sound like?
Is radical culture extreme or do people act extremely to it?
Is there confusion between active radical culture and aesthetic alternative culture?
How should we go about making useful definitions of those two?
Where is the radical culture today?
Does radical culture have enemies, and if so, who are they?
Or where is the subculture, and how do/can we support it?
Now that beauracracy is squatting’s biggest threat, how do we fight against this faceless foe?
Can radical spaces and radical activities be narrow-minded, in their own way?
Do all alternative venues have to be places for political discussions; and is the opposite even possible?
How do spaces remain radical when they adopt some of the practices of commercial ventures?
How can autonomous spaces remain sustainable while also battling against commercialization?
Is being radical having the agency to create change?
How do we make sure we remember that between 2010-2015 Amsterdam lost 300 autonomous spaces?
How do make sure we remember that in 2018 six alternative venues closed down?
The surviving spaces on the alternative circuit benefit for low rents: how can we establish other venues that have this luxury in a city being gentrified?
Is “gentrification a fact of life”? Should we always be so down on the current situation, can we be happy for what we’ve still got?
Is institutionalization the enemy of autonomous spaces?
Can we imagine a city where we plan for spaces and zones where nothing is planned?
How do we draw attention to the fact that citizens are being sidelined for profit?
How do we (and do we want to) work with state institutions?
How do we transform notions of value?
How can we buy bricks and mortar, and take square feet out of the market place?
Is the broedplaats initiative “fucking people over”?
How do we consider radicalism in public spaces, as well as private ones?
Should the alternative scene dedicate itself solely to causes regarding the housing struggle?
How does it ally with others who suffer the sharp end of policies that price them out of affordable and liveable accommodation?
Is the mainstream to be worked with, against, or through?
What is the mainstream, anyway?
How do we talk and understand and help to implement or resist policy?
Why isn’t there more diversity on the panel?
Why do some people feel unwelcome in certain spaces?
Why do members of the community not call out ill behaviour?
How do we make sure we don’t repeat racist aspects of wider society?
And when we become aware of repetitions, how do we put an end to them?
Should attendees and panellists be given the power to control the topics up for debate on future panels?
Who gets to call themself an ally? How do we envisage collective action in 2019, 2020, and beyond?
How do make sure we take ourselves out of our comfort zone?

Photo: Tom Schivez