Bookshop het Fort van Sjakoo has received notice
of a rent increase of more than 900%.
According to the Housing Corporation it is a
"The Housing Corporation Amsterdam wants
the rent from their commercial spaces adjusted to the market
price level". So began a letter from our landlord, the
Woningbedrijf Amsterdam (Housing Corporation Amsterdam), wherein
it stated that they want to increase the rent starting Sept.
1 from 580. to 5100. per month. The Housing Corporation
finds this a reasonable proposal. We, the co-workers from the
Fort van Sjakoo, well know that we can't come up with that much
money for too long. If this rent increase goes into effect we're
for sure threatened with losing the bookshop in the very near
future. Naturally we don't agree with this proposal and we call
on you to help support us in our struggle against this unsocial
Since 1977 het Fort van Sjakoo has been at Jodenbreestraat
24. The building was squatted 2 years earlier as a protest against
its planned demolition to make way for an office building. The
squatters made the building liveable and on the ground floor
a successful bookshop was started. Thus the squatters' resistance
was successful and the building was saved. In 1989 the city
bought the building for next to nothing, the residents and the
bookshop became renters. The Housing Corporation was then still
a part of the municipality, and they got possession of the building.
Since then the company has become privatised.
For 24 years now het Fort van Sjakoo has been
run by an enthusiastic changing group of volunteers. For reasons
of principal it has never wanted to be dependent on government
subsidies, and until now has met all of its costs. The goal
of the bookshop has never been to make a profit, but to supply
people with all sorts of information that they can't easily
find elsewhere. The collection consists of a wide range of left-wing
political, social criticism, avant-garde, artistic, rebellious,
odd and environmentally friendly books and magazines, and sometimes
interesting publications that people search in vain for in regular
bookshops. The bookshop is a distribution point for all sorts
of self-made zines, music from small labels, t-shirts, patches,
etc. People come here from all over the world and often find
things they've uselessly searched for in their own country.
Since the beginning of 2000 you can find in the
basement of het Fort van Sjakoo the Internet workshop ASCII,
and just like the bookshop a collective of volunteers runs it.
You can, for example, surf the net on recycled computers for
free. ASCII experiments with non-commercially developed software,
and gives technical support to idealistic organizations that
don't feel at home in the virtual world. They also have set
up an Internet radio station; they show videos and have experimental
Another volunteer run initiative, which is situated
in het Fort van Sjakoo, is the foundation Window To Europe,
created in 1989 with the goal of promoting the cultural consciousness
and mutual understanding between people who were for a long
time separated by the iron curtain. They have through the years
concentrated on the traditional musical cultures from the different
ethnic groups who live in the former Soviet Union. Lately they've
added a form of electronic music. Also in our bookshop is the
office from the foundation European Juggling Association, who
organizes, among other things, a yearly festival which attracts
more than 3000 jugglers.
None of these organizations is commercial and
can't possibly meet the rent demanded by the profit hungry Housing
Corporation Amsterdam, who is legally within their rights. Though,
they aren't allowed to raise the rents of their housing units
to the market level, they can for business space. And the commercial
space in the Jodenbreestraat has recently increased to absurd
levels, like elsewhere in this city.
For decades the street was full of unpopular ugly
buildings, which were falling apart, and construction sites.
The last few years the city has been busy with fixing up the
street. First they took away the terrible buildings. Then came
new buildings and the pavement was redone with fancy stones.
The junkies were kicked out of the area, and since recently
there is an alcohol ban. The policy of the city hall was successful:
tourist attractions like the Holland Experience, big chain stores
like Blokker and Albert Hein wanted to be on the now upscale
street. And the price per square meter increased in record time
to 10 times higher.
The Housing Corporation Amsterdam isn't legally
bound to differentiate between rent increases for different
types of businesses and organizations. Fort van Sjakoo's situation
isn't different from other small, idealistic organizations.
Everywhere in Amsterdam non-commercial and social organizations
are under pressure because they are being faced with enormously
inflated rent increases. This tendency can only be changed when
social and non-commercial initiatives have a non-profit rent
We want the Housing Corporation Amsterdam to withdraw
their rent increase. Support from the people who believe in
what we do is warmly welcome!! We would really appreciate it
if our sympathizers would begin their own actions in support
If you want to know what's going on put yourself on our mailing
Please send your opinion about the rent increase
to the directors of the Woningbedrijf Amsterdam (Housing Corporation)
and send us also a copy.
1091DR AmsterdamPostbus 94278
International Bookshop Het Fort van Sjakoo
Jodenbreestraat 24 sous