26 September 2020
Three names shortlisted for FKA WDW
In a Public Review held this afternoon, at its premises, the institution formerly known as Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art announces the outcomes of its public input, Advisory Committee Report, and shortlist of names considered for the institution:
- KAT, with variations to spell the name with the letter C, the letter K, or with both letters at once; an acronym that stands for the focus of the institution "Kunst. Activiteiten. Theorie" in Dutch, or, alternatively, "Contemporary Art and Theory."
- kin, with spelling variations to spell the name in sentence case, uppercase, and lowercase; a word that emphasizes a community-based relation, and that can likewise be used as an acronym, for example, to "Kunst International."
- Haven, as a name that could be spelled with capital H, in sentence case or all in lowercase; a word that in Dutch means harbor, referring to Rotterdam as a port city, and in English usage commonly refers to safe space or place of opportunities.
The naming criteria and name options shortlisted were developed through the Renaming Process established in 2019. Public input took place through an Online Survey and Forums open to the general public, feedback sessions with initiative partners, as well as staff workshops. Over 200 people participated in this public input phase, whether in person or online. A summary of the methodology for renaming and the naming criteria is published here.
The three shortlisted names were assessed by an external Advisory Committee, which met for deliberation on 23 September 2020 at the institution; they also provided additional naming advice. This committee includes: Jannelieke Aalstein, Leal Arazzi van Herwaarden, Clara Balaguer, Liesbeth Bik, Yahaira Brito Morfe, Willem de Rooij, Sasha Huber, Stijn Kemper, Iris Kensmil, Louise Mitchell, Tumelo Mosaka, Willem Philipsen, Kees Weeda.
The Advisory Committee Report reads: "Of the three proposed names, KAT is by majority the endorsed name of the Advisory Committee. There was also a strong sentiment in the room to consider Melly as the name of the institution. This name came up as part of a "What's missing?" discussion-round introduced at the end of the first-half of the meeting. Other names were discussed at this point, too, but Melly resonated the most. If given the choice to propose a new name, a further majority said Melly would be a fine name for the institution."
The full Advisory Committee Report is published here.
On 30 September 2020, the Advisory Committee's Report, as well as the findings of the public-input phase of the Renaming Process, will be discussed by the institution's director, Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, and the Supervisory Board. On that day, a new name for the institution will be selected and ratified. The members of the Supervisory Board are: Fariba Derakhshani, Timme Geerlof, Stijn Huijts, Annet Lekkerkerker (chair), Gabriel Lester, Annuska Pronkhorst, and Katarina Zdjelar.
By 5 October 2020, the institution’s new name will be publicly announced. Thereafter, the institution will undertake the administrative procedures pertaining to its name change and the communication design of its new name. The institution’s new name will come into effect with a new identity and program on 27 January 2021, celebrating both the institution’s anniversary and its future outlook.
In 2017, a group of cultural practitioners publicly challenged the name of the institution with an Open Letter. Their stance and activist work conveyed to us urgent historical awareness, as well as the needs of an increasingly multi-vocal society and the pressing concern of systemic racism. In response, the institution vowed to change its name.
In 2018, the institution launched a multi-faceted Name Change Initiative. This initiative is embedded in the institution’s policy on collective learning, designed to foment public participation, promote social inclusivity, and foster mutual understanding through both programming and systemic changes at the institution.
The institution's name change is premised on two central criteria: Firstly, the current name “Witte de With,” as we were more commonly called, indicates the institution’s location 'Witte de Withstraat', but does not express the institution’s vocation, which is presenting contemporary art and theory. Secondly, the original name impinges upon the institution’s pursuit of inclusivity, which is vital to the relevance and contribution of cultural practice in general.
The director of the institution, Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, explains that in designing this initiative and processes, the institution was inspired by two institutional case-studies: one is Yale University’s Calhoun College renaming to Hopper College in 2017; another is Bristol’s Colston Hall renaming to Bristol Beacon in 2020. Both institutions undertook a name change involving a research-based and years-long process. Also inspiring was the 2019 renaming of Untitled to Melly, an art gallery at the institution turned multipurpose space, which is part and parcel of the Name Change Initiative.
On 27 June 2020, the institution announced the withdrawal of its thirty-year-old name. Its new name will come into effect on 27 January 2021.
To read more about the institution's Name Change Initiative: change.wdw.nl
The institution formerly known as Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, first opened its doors to the public in 1990. It was conceived as an art house with a mission to present and discuss the work created today by visual artists and cultural makers, from here and afar. It organizes exhibitions, commissions art, publishes, and develops educational and collaborative initiatives. This non-profit institution has especially worked with artists and engaged audiences who are interested in posing challenging inquiries and articulations of our present. While its program considers the contemporary, it also regards how art has been created and experienced in the past and imagines the futures art can come to shape.