The Manifesto

After the building was occupied in 2009, the Mandril became a Cultural Freezone two years later. This is essentially an open space for active participation in collective creative culture. In September 2012, a further emphasis was put on the political aspect, which redefined The Mandril as a Cultural and Political Centre. The aim is to create a social environment where everyone is welcome, a cosy and vibrant space that connects people, creating an alternative network where ideas and concrete projects can be shared. The Mandril aspires to stimulate participation and engagement in creative culture in Maastricht.

Change life! Change Society! These ideas lose their meaning completely, without producing an appropriate space.”

– Lefebvre, H. The Production of Space, 1991

Space is political, in its social and physical dimension. A space can generate an idea and give birth to actions. As the quote reflects, certain ideas can only be created in an appropriate environment and only certain environments can generate certain ideas. The way a space is organized reflects its underlying values and ideals, which then in turn can inspire other people and motivate them to take action.

The organization of space within cities is generally based on an omnipresent consumerist culture. The fact that the shopping streets in Maastricht are in the centre is not a coincidence… If all entertainment and cultural activities in the city are based on making profit and therefore require high entrance prices, participation is limited to the people who can afford it. Schools and universities also have set entrance conditions as for example grades, concentration capacities, money, etc. This means that not everybody has the same access to cultural participation. Since an appropriate space is needed to make changes in society Mandril is occupying an abandoned building and strives at being such a space. To create an alternative to the hegemonic commercial environment, the Mandril Cultural and Political Centre is non-commercial and non-profit.

People should have the right to the city, not only as passive consumers but also as active participants. By occupying an abandoned building the Mandril has thus re-appropriated an empty space in order to create a Cultural Freezone, which strives to provide and encourage free access to culture, education and political discourse for everybody who wants to come. To be a truly free space open to everybody, it is very important that diversity and difference in other people is respected. Therefore the Mandril aims to be a place without sexism, racism, homophobia, harassment and violence and it is the responsibility of the Mandril community to make it such.

This collectively run centre is organized by a non-hierarchical structure where individuals are provided with an open space to organize their projects and ideas. Thus, this space as such, can only exist with the active collaboration of everybody.

The Mandril is a non-profit and non-commercial space completely run by volunteers. The activities and events are open to everyone and participants are encouraged to leave a donation. The Mandril depends on these donations to cover fixed cost of electricity, taxes, maintenance and renovation of the building. Besides that money is not the only exchange value. Everybody is encouraged to support the centre by organizing activities, renovating the building or by donating materials and furniture. This principle is called Dana.

Besides the re-appropriation of the building, the non-hierarchical organization and the Dana principle that make the Mandril a political space, it is also political through the content of the activities and events. Political here doesn’t refer to formal governmental institutions. It rather means that Mandril is political because it fosters open space for discussion and action. Examples are the Free Skool Fridays, which provide an open space for a free exchange of knowledge, ideas and skills based on an autonomous and non-hierarchical form of learning. In the past the Mandril also hosted Queer meetings, organized a Free Pussy Riot Action Week and provided space for lectures such as the one by Professor Ihab Saloul on the situation in Gaza.

The building of the Mandril provides a space for self-organized culture in Maastricht. At the Mandril students and locals from different backgrounds and disciplines meet and share their interest in diverse and accessible cultural expressions. With its Jam Session, theatre, concerts, performances, dance and language classes the Mandril answers a demand and enriches the cultural landscape of Maastricht. This way it provides an alternative to the commercial and high art scene in the city.

The Mandril is concerned about sustainability issues. It deals with environmental and ecological sustainability by revitalising an old abandoned building, recycling trash and consuming responsibly. The Mandril also provides a space where health of body and mind are encouraged through yoga, meditation, reiki and massage.

This cultural and political centre is part of a broader network, which engages with an alternative way of living, consuming and interacting. Other initiatives that re-appropriate abandoned space to stimulate cultural and political participation are Hotel The Ossekop, Proef Tuin, Landbouwbelang, Landhuis and B32.

As a non-profit and non-commercial project, Mandril depends on and can only exist with the active participation and commitment of everyone involved. The centre is completely run by volunteers, from cleaning and administration, to teaching and building. The principle of the Mandril is to empower people to realize their ideas and it is possible for everyone to start a project. To avoid the term Volunteer for its connotation of a passive helper and to use a more playful concept; everyone that is in some way active at the Mandril is called a Monkey. If you want to become a regular Monkey, get involved any other way or just get more information, feel free to contact us!

Email: info [at]