Gemene Grond is an artistic programme devised and initiated as a way of working by a team of independent advisors for creating art in the public space (ABKV). Utrecht city council is the commissioning body. Gemene Grond explores how art in the public space can contribute to social relations in a city like Utrecht.

We live in an era where society is undergoing ever more rapid change. Those changes manifest themselves in people’s homes and their communities but also in nature and online. In order to make sure we don’t lose sight of one another it’s important to keep talking. Gemene Grond believes that art is the key to initiating such conversations and keeping them going. In art we find one another – but then it has to be art by and for everyone. After all, Gemene Grond is here for the city, by the city, with the city and in the city.


As Gemene Grond – Common Ground – we see the city as a communal, shared space. The areas where people live are constantly changing, due to the way the city is being managed and developed. People, animals and plants aren’t always involved in these transformations. Local people can feel that their street, neighbourhood or city isn’t theirs anymore and they no longer belong there. And that’s why it’s time to come together with them to see what’s needed for everyone to have a say in contributing to a neighbourhood, district and city we want to live in.


Gemene Grond is a translation of the English term ‘common ground’. In medieval times these were pieces of land for communal use by mutual agreement. In Dutch, ‘gemene grond’ or ‘gemeynt’ later became ‘gemeente’, the word for a local council. The idea behind common ground lives on in ‘commons’, resources made available for general use. Things like open wifi, public water fountains or a community allotment for growing vegetables.


Gemene Grond aims to make communality tangible and visible through art. Art and culture are key elements in your street, your area, your city. You have to be able to see, hear, smell and feel it. Everyone has a say in the discussion and the decision-making because that way art becomes accessible to all and makes the city that bit more beautiful.