Financing social design processes
One Week About Social Design by Cindy van den Bremen
As a newly graduated designer, I came knocking on the door of art and cultural institutions with my self-initiated projects. They referred me to welfare departments. There they said that I had to go to the Department of Art and Culture. My work was not understood because it couldn’t be compartmentalized.
After I had built up my portfolio with self-initiated projects, other people started to notice and ask me. In the beginning, I mainly worked in the cultural sector where we worked with other stakeholders in areas such as municipalities and housing associations.
After the cutbacks in the arts and culture sector, my assignments moved towards municipalities and housing associations, often involving livability or area development (such as the project Gebiedsontwikkeling St. Joseph in Eindhoven). The government now seems to put a stop to this because it thinks that – after all the malpractices in the social housing sector – corporations should only concern themselves with the rental of apartments and houses. So social design moves to the background again.
But alongside bricks, the most important part of the neighborhood are the people living there and this development seems to contradict the government policy that is in favor of a participation society. To enable residents to play an active role, we need catalysts. These are often social designers, but their work should be acknowledged.
Minister Blok’s new Housing Act has a restrictive effect on housing corporations willing to appoint social designers in their neighborhoods. The government is of the opinion that the social aspects in neighborhoods fall under the competence of welfare. Here we have again an example of compartmentalized thinking!