In cooperation with the MAEX social trade fair, DPA helps social initiatives achieve long-term impact. Neighbourhood lighting is one such social initiative in Amsterdam. It connects artists, local residents and business owners through light projections in the city. ‘We showcase the talents of the neighbourhood. We do this by projecting photographs of works of art, poems and children's drawings on unused walls and buildings, for example. A great way to discover your neighbourhood and see it from a different perspective. Buurtlicht moves and unites people, together, in a barrier-free meeting place. As a result, local residents feel more at home and connected’, says initiator Tanja Henn.

Connection by light

Colour and light are the passions this artist stands for. That's why she started projecting art at the community centre in 2015. ‘These were works by eight artists from the neighbourhood who were hidden behind cupboards and beds. I was wondering what people would think when seeing this. That's how the artists started talking to each other. The same thing happened when cyclists and people walking their dogs stopped to observe the works. This led to special meetings and conversations. This is how Buurtlicht came about: bringing about connection by shining light on people, their talents and the history and stories of the neighbourhood.’

From, for and by the local community

‘Together with local artists and business owners, schools and social institutions, I expanded and extended operation Buurtlicht, with financial support from the West district and the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts. We shine a light on all the beauty that our neighbours create, paint, draw, photograph, play and write. Buurtlicht also offers all kinds of opportunities to be socially engaged, to be involved in art or to advance computer technology. The people involved reflect the diverse character of the neighbourhood: the different cultural backgrounds, ages, colours and tastes. Most activities are free to attend.’

Assistance in setting up financial administration

‘It is not easy to arrange financing for a neighbourhood initiative,’ says Tanja. ‘That's why I sought support from MAEX Impuls Amsterdam. This platform encourages companies, funds and governments to cooperate better with social initiatives. Among other things, MAEX ensured we received temporary support from DPA's experienced finance professional Vitus van Netten. It helped us set up the financial administration. It is massively reassuring and a real boost to have someone on your side who has an understanding of these matters.’

Ensure continuity

Vitus, who has been working as an interim professional since 2016, has over 20 years of experience as a finance professional. ‘Buurtlicht is a superb initiative by artist Tanja Henn. I helped her set up the financial administration. By organising this conveniently, the foundation can meet the obligations to subsidisers in a good way. I have found a mode for allocating actual costs to cost centres that works well for foundations.’

Expert financial assistance

Buurtlicht has been a foundation since December 2020 and was granted ANBI status retroactively in August 2021. ‘I was very pleased with DPA's expert support in selecting a free accounting program and setting it up. Someone with an understanding of things is worth its weight in gold if you don't know exactly what you’re doing. What I also really liked was the level of empathy shown. It’s nice that someone from such a big company does this with so much feeling! I had no idea about cost centres, for example, but was never given the feeling that I was asking a stupid question or anything. Vitus also looked at the financial part of the annual report. It feels good that this is all in order. This enables us to continue to work on our plans and new projects with full vigour.’

Kunstroute (Art Route)

She proudly talks about the annual Buurtlicht Kunstroute in the dark winter months. ‘This route along indoor and outdoor locations in the Westerpark and the Staatsliedenbuurt is famous in the neighbourhood. Our projections of photographs, art and historical images on Animal Day, Parents’ Day, St. Martin's Day and World Light Day are also hugely appreciated. On Animal Day, we ask local residents to email a photo of their dearest friend or to draw, paint or make a clay model of themselves. Sometimes we offer workshops leading up to these days, after which the work done is put on display in the neighbourhood. In March, on International Women's Day, we projected portraits of women on the Water Tower. Other locations where we create projections are include Molen De Otter, the Central Market Hall and various other locations around the Westerpark.’