Takuro Maizuta Lippit, aka dj sniff, writes in thanks for the international outpouring of support for the STEIM music and art research center in Amsterdam, which faces potentially losing government funding. Some readers raised some questions about why STEIM is asking for support, and what the institution’s significance is — a reasonable question — and Taku provides some background here:
What makes STEIM an unique place is that it emphasizes on supporting independent artists with experimental and adventurous ideas in the live electronic art world. These artists tend to be young up-and-coming or outsiders to specific genres and established scenes. The projects may seem like "pet projects" to other people, but often the artists themselves believe these experiments will have significant merit to the future of artistic expression. History has showed us that often innovation comes from the outside rather than the inside.
Although the support for these artists is quite minimal (we only offer space and advise), STEIM is able to continue this because of structural funding from the government. If not, we would have to write grant proposals for larger projects that appeal to specific funders. This will change the whole character of STEIM and go against the basic philosophy of what it was founded upon.
I came to STEIM as a DJ/Turntablist who wanted to play improvised music using tools that i built with Max/MSP and physical computing. STEIM opened their doors to me and provided a safe ground where i can freely experiment and develop my methods and aesthetics. Even though there are not many DJ and turntablists that come to STEIM, I truly feel like I am part of a community of artists that believe technology and new tools, however much of a pain in the ass they maybe, do create new artistic expression.
We are very grateful to the domestic and international support that are being voiced. We are planning special events in the following weeks to show our stand and hope pull through this situation.
I have to say, I was having coffee with CDM contributor Mike Una yesterday and trying to think of other research centers for music and art around the world, and STEIM is on a very, very short list. We’ll keep in touch with them as the situation evolves. For what it’s worth, I agree that the Dutch government isn’t under any kind of obligation to support STEIM, but then, that’s not the point: it’d be a real disappointment if they didn’t continue their unique and brave support of a one-of-a-kind resource.