Amsterdam brothels become art studios in clean-up

Wed Apr 29, 2009 7:55am EDT
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By Mette Ouborg

AMSTERDAM (Reuters Life!) - Red lights still glow in the small rooms along one of Amsterdam's inner city alleys, but the beds are gone and artists are working on creative installations where prostitutes used to entertain clients.

As part of efforts to revitalize its center and rein in a mushrooming red light district, the city of Amsterdam in cooperation with a housing corporation has acquired some former brothel rooms and rented them out to artists as studios.

Some customers, however, are yet to catch on to the changes.

"Is Patricia in here?" an old man asks in Spanish after knocking on the window of one newly converted art studio.

"They still don't realize the prostitutes are gone," Dutch artist Niels Vis said after the interruption.

To fight organized crime and clean up Amsterdam's center, authorities plan to halve the number of brothels and marijuana selling coffee shops, which have been a major pull for tourists to the city, and limit prostitution to certain areas.

Last week, the government said it planned further measures to fight forced prostitution and human trafficking such as a registration requirement for prostitutes and stricter permit rules for brothels, escort agencies and massage salons.

Only one prostitute window is left on the Korsjespoortsteeg alley. "It feels a bit like we pushed the prostitutes out," Vis said.   Continued...