Do you believe that to transform yourself is to transform the world? Has cooking, singing, dancing, gardening, healing, dreaming, and making things with other people been part of your transformation? If so, you already know about art and the commons.

The commons can be described as the natural and cultural resources held in common by a community. For example, community gardens, mutual aid networks, and open source software are all examples of the commons. The commons requires a collaborative process, which we call “commoning,” based on shared ethics and values such as diversity, equity, pluralism, and sustainability. Art is an imaginative way of doing and being, which connects, heals, opens, and moves people into the new social visions. Art is in fact inherent to the commons, as they are shared resources to keep the culture of community alive. In turn, the commons may well sustain art. With art and the commons we can draw a worldview beyond the divides of private and public, to shape together a new paradigm of living together as “we” desire – be it decolonial, post-capitalist, matriarchal, solidarity economies — we name it! 

An experimental platform where art invites a social vision

Art and the Commons are two key practices for Casco Art Institute. We see them as both tools and visions for better ways of living together. Casco Art Institute works for this vision of art and the commons by creating a space, or “Casco” meaning in Dutch a space of basic structure for change, for co-exploration and study with collective art projects as well as organizational experiments. We co-develop collective art projects out of critical questions and radical imagination. They are process-based and place specific, forming community and together generating art and knowledge as common resources. Organizational experiments take place with all of these projects, including Casco Art Institute itself. We dream of offering an example of a commonly desirable institution of art and the commons that embodies diversity, equity, pluralism, and sustainability.All of the collective art projects and organizational processes we engage in are open to active participation from anyone who shares values around the commons and responsibility. Anyone with curiosity can experience multiple activities and publicly available common resources from the projects, in person, and in community with Casco. We especially welcome those who seek change in their life as well as in the world while feeling vulnerable alone or within other institutions. Since Casco Art Institute was born and has grown in Utrecht, we are committed to people and communities in Utrecht. We also engage with communities elsewhere, especially outside of western Europe, recognizing the world is intricately connected and the commons transcends national borders. 

Casco Art Institute’s program is made possible with regular financial support by Gemeente Utrecht and Stichting DOEN via Arts Collaboratory. The additional funds come from European Union Creative Europe, Foundation for Arts Initiatives, K.F. Hein, Mondriaan Fonds, and Province Utrecht.