Broedplaats (Local Term)

Definition: A peculiarity of the Dutch context is the broedplaats concept, which originated in Amsterdam. The huge Wyers squat (1981-1984) was a place where the discourse of the broedplaats ('breeding place') was formed as an alternative frame to the traditional frame which justified squatting as based on housing need (Uitermark 2004). Wyers, eventually evicted for a Holiday Inn, housed in the region of a hundred squatters and also hosted a restaurant (Zorro's Zion), a skate park, a theatre, a fruit and vegetable shop, 30 artist ateliers, an art gallery and a creche.

Part of the reason the breeding place proponents could win the argument from the hard-liners, was that there was widespread dissatisfaction with the ‘uncompromising housing shortage’ frame within the movement. Thus the concept originated with squatters, but it did not have very much traction with the authorities until the late 1990s, when the aims of some squatters and the Amsterdam City Council became aligned. This was because the council started to realise that in order for the cultural element which was so important for attracting people and investment to the city to thrive, artists needed cheap spaces to rent and work. The squatters had been demonstrating this for some time already, but now the city was onside, in its quest to regenerate the city.

Thus, Uitermark (2004: 237) reports: One of the squatters of Wyers, a long-time proponent of the breeding place frame who was also involved in this address to the council, says that he and his associates repeatedly addressed the city council to voice his concerns about the eviction of landmark squats in the city centre and the resulting deterioration of the city’s cultural climate: “In the 1990s, during the economic boom, everything that was alternative was killed, witness the many evictions. I was extremely surprised that in 1998 the council suddenly responded to our call. We had written such manifests and council addresses in 1994 and 1996 but only at this point in time did they see that squats are important for the cultural and economic climate.” In 2000, the Gemeente (Council) published a report entitled Geen cultuur zonder subcultuur ('No culture without subculture') and the breeding place policy still exists today as can be seen by its page on the council website (Gemeente Amsterdam 2014). (source )

Nowadays the Amsterdam City Council subsidises these spaces as part of its creative and cultural industries strategy.