Meeting special needs through art

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Woman painting

In April, the ABN AMRO Foundation is focusing on art and culture. So healthcare provider Cordaan and the bank are teaming up to organise five exciting events with artists at the Outsider Art Gallery. Monique Spreitzer is an executive adviser with Cordaan. Over the years, she and her colleague Hans Hendriks have built a partnership with the ABN AMRO Foundation. Here Monique takes a closer look at the relationship between the two organisations.

It’s important to draw on people’s talents and nurture them whenever possible. Monique Spreitzer Monique Spreitzer Bestuursadviseur bij Cordaan

Stronger together

Two organisations which, on the face of it, might appear to be very different, the ABN AMRO Foundation and healthcare provider Cordaan actually share a number of important similarities and have worked together for many years. Cordaan offers its clients care and support, no matter what their background, age or short- and long-term needs are. Cordaan is close to people in the communities and neighbourhoods where they live in order to provide them with the personal care and guidance they need. Basically, it’s all about people.

The ABN AMRO Foundation’s activities are also focused on interpersonal relationships, bringing together all sorts of different people through voluntary work. And the results are spectacular!

Everyone has worth

Cordaan’s mission is to ensure that those residents of Amsterdam it serves can continue to live the lives they themselves wish to live. Its motivation is to contribute to each meaningful life, ensuring every client is a fully fledged member of the community. Individuals with a physical, mental or psychological disability should have the same opportunities, options and responsibilities to participate in society as everyone else. Cordaan helps each of its clients identify the most meaningful place in society for them personally. It’s important to draw on people’s talents and nurture them whenever possible.

Art: the common thread

As a Partner of the Future, ABN AMRO supports people who are looking to accomplish a certain goal. Through its foundation, the bank enables individuals to discover their own talents and make their dreams come true. One area in which Cordaan and ABN AMRO complement each other is art.

Cordaan aims to ensure recognition, appreciation and understanding for those who differ from the norm as a result of a physical, mental or psychological disability. It does this by helping them strengthen their self-image and build self-esteem, self-confidence and pride, and by facilitating their integration into society. It’s particularly beneficial when people with and without special needs come together, and art can play an important, unifying role in that context.

Talent and recognition

Initially one of Cordaan’s supervised community-based day activities, making art has now become an important part of Cordaan’s care and support offering. Some of its special needs clients are in fact very talented, original and unique artists. Some have an artistic bent or talent who go on to develop into visual artists in their own right. Social recognition for these artists and their work has been a long time coming, but their art has now garnered great public appreciation.

Art is empowering

For years, Cordaan has been enabling artists with intellectual and/or mental disabilities to work at the Kunstwerkplaats studios, where workshops are also given. The ABN AMRO Foundation, too, has been active here on more than one occasion, bringing bank employees into direct contact with the artists to work alongside them on a particular theme. All the artists here have an intellectual disability.

The workshops are unique because they’re not geared to providing guidance to individuals who have special needs, but rather to those who don’t, in the form of instruction from a person with a disability. Recognition and understanding of these people’s talent are a huge boost to their self-worth and self-respect!

New venues for talent

A number of artists working at the Kunstwerkplaats possess such talent and growth potential that an inspirational environment was needed to allow them to continue to grow. On 16 March, Queen Máxima inaugurated the Outsider Art Museum, the Outsider Art Ateliers, as well as the Cordaan Gallery and Artoteque (or Artotheek in Dutch) at a festive gathering at the Hermitage.

Art makes the person

Art makes no distinction between people with and without special needs. That’s why Cordaan is always looking to the outside world for partners. Recently, Cordaan teamed up with Introdans and the Amsterdam University of the Arts to stage a dance performance in which individuals with and without special needs participated. The organisation also invests in the Art Makes the Person programme (called Kunst maakt de mens in Dutch) with the Stedelijk Museum to bring art to the elderly. It’s also why Cordaan enjoys working with the ABN AMRO Foundation and employees from the bank.

A meaningful contribution

On 6 April, volunteers from the ABN AMRO Foundation participated in a painting masterclass given by an artist from Cordaan’s Outsider Art programme. Later this month, another group will be enrolling on a workshop at the Textielkunstwerkplaats De Draad in Amsterdam to learn how to make bags. This workshop will also be led by a client with an intellectual disability. These encounters between people with and without special needs truly make life richer for everyone involved.


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