The Mattress

In pop culture lore, mattresses are infamously used as savings accounts — repositories of cash squirreled away, stuffed out of sight. Performing Art Forums’s mattresses represent the bedrock (pun intended) of what PAF provides: a bare minimum of comfort and care in a space receptive to its inhabitants.

But mattresses also contain the potential for dynamic energy and change: the word mattress derives from the Arabic “madra", a place where something is thrown, and originally comes from the Persian "tarh" which means, in the context of finance, a discount.

Although most of PAF's visitors live in European cities, PAF does not reflect their actual demographics. The majority of PAF's visitors are white: a reflection of the historical exclusionary patterns of many European art institutions. Can PAF be a truly accessible tool and a relevant space of engagement given this pattern? Can PAF continue to foster experimental research and radical modes of living together if the cost of coming to PAF, financial or emotional, is too high?

It cannot. That's why PAF made the Mattress, and is working on stuffing it with cash earned through donations and fundraising. The income raised will support PAF in its aspiration to be informed by intersectional, anti-racist, anticolonial and feminist analysis by creating (financial) means to increasingly involve and engage artists, researchers and practitioners who occupy an intersection of racialization and economic precarity.

The cash in the Mattress will be used to:
1. finance the short or long stays of practitioners (this can include the price for the nights, budget for travel, food and visa expenses),
2. fund relevant gatherings and events,
3. create (financial) means to involve racialized people in the running of PAF.

The mattress understands that this change is not one that money alone can bring. PAF has undergone profound change in the sense that more people feel comfortable there, notably queer people and people with children, and through this it has broadened what it understands as working and as living together. However, PAF has a long road ahead.

For this change to happen, the Mattress must be liquidated and continuously replenished.

You, dear reader, are invited to contribute to this change!

You can make a one-time or recurring donation here:
or in person at PAF.

You can pay for announcements on PERF-mts, in case you need to advertise More-Than-Special events in the performing arts to an equally special audience. All income from PER-mts goes directly into The Mattress. If you are interested in sending out an announcement you can email

You can collaborate with the Mattress to establish institutional partnerships, apply for grants or find other means of fundraising, if you have ties with, or knowledge of, funding institutions or relevant funding bodies. You can also contribute by sharing knowledge, experiences, tactics and/or practices to foster this change.

You can use the cash in the Mattress if you are racialized and you cannot come to PAF for financial reasons. You can use the cash to come to PAF, and/or organize relevant events and initiatives. If interested, send an email to Please detail any specific requirements you may have, and state your dates and desired length of stay.

You are of course more than encouraged to forward this page to anyone who might like to support or be interested in the PAF Mattress.

The Mattress
(currently Nina, Noï, Vale, Lyor, Louise, Simon, Mary)