Relocation and Revival of the Mandril!

Dearest monosapiens, friends, family, lovers, haters and ideal shapers.

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We’re more than thrilled to be able to reconnect with you all here again and bring you some of the latest updates from Mandril land. We are aware that after April, after the eviction from the former home of the Mandril at Boschstraat 5, we have shown very little online presence. Luckily online silence doesn’t reflect offline activity and we can inform you that we’ve been working with small but dedicated crews on the new location of the Mandril Cultural and Political Centre, at Cabergerweg 45. Even though the structural damages are turning out to be less severe than we had initially speculated and lots of work has been carried out already, a lot remains to be done. It’s proving a lot of fun to breathe small queefs of life into a building that’s been in serious need for some tender loving care for such a long time. Boxes and couches have been moved, some floors have been cleaned and others thrown out, walls have been made mould-free and painted and all, tools have been organized and ideas and dreams have been shared. At the top of our to do list is the insulation, connecting electricity and water, launching our crowd funding campaign and many other tasks. To make this all happen we are organizing working days every Wednesday and Sunday, followed with a nice dinner. Excited to co-create with all of us? Come along and help out so that we can open and start hosting all the great events very soon. Keep an eye on this virtual space for further details and exact time!

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Even though there’s much to be said about the “experiment with the city” (aka, the first cooperation between spontaneous idealist squatters and rule-abiding municipality officials) that we’ve embarked on for a full year now, the facts on the ground are that we can actually continue the Mandril project. We can confidently announce that over the next five years Maastricht will have this space to manifest alternative and free expressions of culture and political engagement, which has always been our number one priority. As such, the very definition of the word “experiment” entails that this process must essentially go through trials and errors, where each error serves the noble function to – ideally – learn and emerge improved and wiser from. Since government and squatters come from opposite sides of the political and practical spectrum, we’ve learned a great deal about each other’s worlds in the past year and eventually that can only lead to better forms of cooperation in the future. And we should aim for that, since at the core of both of our worlds there is an inherent interest in the improvement of our collective living and working spheres – i.e. the city.

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On that point, there’s certainly also room for constructive criticism when it comes to the cultural/artistic ambitions and policies of our city, which have – in less than one year – gone from trying to attain the title of Euregion’s Cultural Capital 2018 to cutting subsidies of more than 40 cultural initiatives to the point of extinction for some. One, ironically small, consequence of this cultural schizophrenia is thus that the Toneelgroep Maastricht will no longer move into the previous Mandril location on Boschstraat 5, and so this building will remain empty until December. As such, we assume no ill intentions on behalf of the city in this process of collaboration, and as it is in fact really the very first time that such an experiment between squatters and politicians has ever been embarked upon, we mention this fact merely in light of the cultural direction that the city is heading towards than for some indirect spiteful comment to be thrown subtly at the city managers, which is effectively not our intention here and now. This fact does, however, emphasise the need for more autonomous cultural centres, or freezones, where people have the potential to manifest independent, self-sustaining forms of culture and art, free from the unreliable twists and turns of top-down financial systems which unfortunately still inherently influence the existence and functionings of many artistic and cultural initiatives.

As such, we’re happy to announce the rebirth of the Mandril Cultural and Political centre on Cabergerweg 45 (and truly hope for more freezones to emerge from the cultural rubble of the Capital2018 fiasco from now onwards!). You can contact us on this page for more information, questions, comments or feedback regarding the project. You’re also more than welcome to co-create this freezone with us in any way you see fit; from offering your helping hands and creative minds during the open work-days on Wednesdays and Sundays, ideological inputs and constructive criticisms we’re looking forward to receiving during the bi-weekly Asambleas (follow this page for more info) or through a message on any other mediocre week day for that matter. There are many, many ways of getting involved and shaping this project with all of us. Looking forward to seeing you hearing from you!

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