Building communities

Hi all,

I want to start a discussion about building communities. In particular, building an art community with Discourse as platform for discussion, sharing, etc.

Some background. 2 years ago I started an art platform for beginning artists in The Netherlands, called Rizoom. It’s main hive of activity is on rizoom’s instagram account. At this point in time I want to expand beyond IG with other things (a podcast, a magazine, curating expositions, and an online forum).

I have a discourse forum installed, but the thing is: no one uses it. I haven’t done much pr for it because I want things to grow organically. Like how the monome/lines forum grew over the years.

So what are my questions?

  • why do you visit and post on lines?
  • is there someone with experience in building communities (online/offline) that wants to share some knowledge?

But this thread can also be about building communities in general. Your ideas, philosophies, rants, everything is welcome!



Hi Joris, just for clarity can you expand on what you mean by artists and tell us more about your original idea?

Oh yes sure. By artists I mean mainly visual artists, but we try to include and support all art forms on our platform. (The thing is, with instagram as our main focus point at the moment, visual arts work better than music or dance for example). The original idea is to provide beginning artists a platform to show their work, and to make new connections between artists themselves and between artists and their audiences. Building a rizoom community was back in my mind when I started this in 2018.

edit: i don’t want to advertise here, but at this point it feels a bit strange not mention the website, (which needs a serious update btw)

Super naïve question: is the visual arts scene big on Instagram?

Let me put it this way, as an experimental musician I’ve railed against Instagram usage elsewhere on this forum. It’s superficial and unnatural, in my estimation. Visual artists, in my experience, tend to be the most bullshit-averse people on the planet.

So why not view Instagram as a consequence of what you’re doing, rather than a primary source?

(Full disclosure: I know many visual artists, many of whom are suspicious of Instagram-type techs, although we’re all between age 40 and 70, so that may skew the demographic.)


Perhaps the most obvious thing, is that you need to determine whether you can find enough people who want to work for what you want. Communities require management, both formally and informally. If you look at lines, there are lots of regulars, mods, and admins who are here to both structurally encourage the spirit of the community and participate.

But that brings us to the crux of it: Communities don’t exist just because. There needs to be a reason to organize. Geography can certainly play a part, but if you’re looking to build a space online, then you generally need an ideology or project to build around.

So the question becomes: what is it that you (as a group) are speaking to? The new? What do you offer your community? Your description so far seems a bit too vague to develop into something larger with less local resonance. So that is the thing to talk out with other extant members of your community.


Adding to what grey wrote, I would suggest recruiting and organizing people to make regular posts, to moderate threads, and just to comment on what newcomers post, at least in the beginning. Regular content will help bring people back to the site again and again. Maybe someone could compile a weekly calendar of events of interest to the community. People might review new gallery shows, or interviews, or post questions about particular issues with their own artistic process. You could try approaching artists you know and asking them to commit to posting a new topic once a week – having a scheduled commitment can really motivate people. A lot of work goes into starting a community like that, and it doesn’t usually happen without behind-the-scenes discussions and commitment.


Read ‘Design For Community’ by Derek Powazek.


Ah, this is a really interesting topic which has been on my my mind a bit lately.

In answer to the first question: I’m quite new to the Lines forum and found my way here by way of the Disquiet Junto community. A key reason for joining the Junto was a desire to seek out more online communities, where ideas and feedback are shared and it’s been a great experience to date :slight_smile: . The addition of being a part of Lines has been an added bonus in this respect.

As a bit of background, for my entirety of my art practice I’ve been based in Adelaide (South Australia) with a regular connection to regional centres. Unlike larger centres like Melbourne and Sydney, Adelaide - with a smaller population of just over 1M - goes through cycles of activity with its musical and art communities, where things can go quiet every now and then. On the electronic/experimental music front, many years ago (2006-07) I curated an experimental music concert series (Tyndall Assembly) which featured the work of local artists as well as performances of historic works. I think experimental music is pretty healthy at the moment with regular events being held in town. But due in part to getting older, finishing post grad a decade ago and a smattering of social anxiety, over the last couple of years I’ve gone through a bit of an absent patch getting along to shows. Nevertheless - and maybe due in part to being a part of the Junto and Lines community - I’m keen to reconnect with folks again in and around my city. :slight_smile:


The about section does a good job explaining the concept. Klinkt goed (sounds good).

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i visit lines mainly due to interest in electronic music, production & recording…there was no similar local community when i stumbled on the old forum (so at the time it made perfect sense)

i’m now aware of a few people and venues in the area which align with my interests but am less inclined to seek them out . i’m actually less sure about why i post on lines anymore either…but i’ve chosen to maintain a presence here since i still enjoy reading and learning from others in this community

so @nuun
do you seem to be having the opposite problem? folks who are fully engaged and participating in local events in NL but unaware of/disinterested in online discussion?

or is it merely that the community so far favors IG over discourse as a forum?

iirc you launched the platform on instagram…
this skewed preference might simply be a byproduct of that

by comparison lines, and the monome forum which precedes it, were never migrated from another social media platform (like a facebook group etc)

however lines, hosted on discourse and less monome-centric, WAS a departure from the old forum that has drastically changed the community…some members who were previously regulars never made the switch

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I completely agree instagram is superficial and unnatural! But it is really good at one thing I’m interested in: in making new connections. If I follow an artist and he/she follows me back, that’s a connection made, how superflous it may be. But this initial connection on IG can lead to so many things in real life. Many of the people in the art scene I know through instagram. I haven’t been to art school myself so this was a really helpful way to get to know people.

That being said, I really like to move beyond Instagram with rizoom, because it has many flaws and limitations. That’s why I’m looking into a forum as place to connect and share. And the podcast to deepen the conversation about the artwork and proces, and to give space to non visual art forms as well, like experimental music!

It’s hard to answer for the art scene as a whole, but I see that many beginning visual artists in the Netherlands use IG to connect with other artists, galleries and platforms. It’s an easy way to connect and explore, like I said before.

thanks for your questions!

We stand for connection, openness and experimentation. We give a platform to beginning artists to show their artwork. We try to make new connections between artists themselves and between artists and the bigger society they’re a part of. We offer the community the opportunity to interact with a lot of other artists, to show their work on our platform, to talk about their work in our podcast, to show their work in one of our future exhibitions. And to become part of this network by contributing themselves.

This is a really good point. I will be thinking about this and asking people.

thanks Samekid for sharing the link. You’re also Dutch?

yes exactly! so to be precise: I launched to platform on IG in 2018. That account has steadily grown into the account with >3k followers we have right now. So I think there’s much potential for rizoom to grown beyond this ig only thing. I had a meeting last Monday with 9 other people interested to help out with the next projects.

yeah this. But to speak about 'the community" is a tricky thing. I think in the case of rizoom it’s better to be precise: the followers of the rizoom ig account maybe aren’t interestent in an online discussion platform. But like I said, I haven’t done much to promote it either, expect occasionally mentioning it in an ig story.

Yeah this is a really good idea and that’s what I’ll have to do to make things work out with the forum, and the online community I strive to originate.

Btw, if someone is interested in helping me to get this thing off the ground, you are very welcome! for now rizoom is focusing on artists living/working in The Netherlands, but I don’t see why the forum attached to rizoom should be limited to the borders of a nation-state. It could work internationally as well I think.

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Well that sounds positive. Yes I’m Dutch, I live in provincie Utrecht.

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Funny, I’ve had quite a different experience. I’ve had lots of deep and interesting conversations on Instagram, although obviously mainly focused on music and technical and/or artistic details. It’s my favorite platform for exactly this reason.


Ugh it still feels so commercial to me, but I’m slowly coming around to it.

I can see how it’s very direct to get in touch with someone you want to interact with.

I figure I’ll have to learn it eventually if I want to share music. :confused: