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2018 in the arts: the year we finally choose our bubble and let the masses be the masses.

We are moving down in size. It's not just in the popularity of the TinyHouse movement That young people and seniors can shake hands. We want to relax, but we also want to have less to do with the big bad outside world. This applies to older people, but certainly to those in their twenties. That movement has been going on for a while in the arts. Small exhibitions, living room concerts and micro-publications are enjoying growing popularity. What is new for 2018 is that society-wide, we will increasingly turn away from mass media and internet giants.

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Facebook and Twitter have been threatened from within by SnapChat and Whatsapp for a while now. After all, what the latter have to offer is a private experience, control over who can find out what about you and the safety of one's own group. Scholars like that, not only because their parents can't watch along, like on the public channels of Facebook and Twitter. They also simply have a less strong need to inform the whole world of their views.

Level playing field

What happened to young people is now happening to their parents. They themselves are the generation that embraced the new mass medium over a decade ago. That generation had hopes and expectations that everyone would become 'the media' themselves. Every story, no matter how small, would be on the level playing field of social media can be given a chance. The reality is different.

In 2017, it became definitively clear that money still holds the power. Fake news, paid trolls, bot-armies: the lunatics have taken over the asylum and, as a result, the atmosphere is permanently and permanently ruined. The giants can do little to change it. Their DNA is the masses. Their revenue model the axe to their own roots.


Not that Facebook and Twitter will disappear. Their power will not diminish. But between the pounding of the dinsaurians another little ecosystem develops, and art is going to notice that too. For a few months now, we have been celebrating the unexpected and long unthinkable return of the newsletter. The newsletter is private, allows for quiet reading and commenting, does not float on likes and shares and makes the online experience safer and - it has to come out - cosier. I also experiment with it on this site and the reactions are unchangingly positive. Direct, bare-bones communication with your readers: a simple email, once the foundation of the internet, still turns out to offer that better than the Facebook post. The newsletter also contains different stories from this site, and that differentiated, in-depth experience does everyone good.

In the arts, the trend towards smaller and more exclusive is accelerating. Helped in part by a more art-friendly government policy. The Culture Council's change of course, with more emphasis on local art life, is in line with the pursuit of art closer to the public. In fact, you can almost compare centrally organised, supra-local theatre makers to Facebook or Twitter. They have no direct connection with the audience in whose 'homes' they perform, but pretend to be logged into a higher, supra-local, national art experience. This does not work as well, as was also shown by the Performing Arts Fund's own research, which is itself the enabler of that supra-local higher art.

Major players

2018 marks a transition to art that is allowed to be small again. Art that will not be judged on its ability, demonstrable or otherwise, to appeal to the average Dutch art lover. Art has long since lost that battle to the big players on the world stage like Netflix, HBO, Clear Channel and touring blockbuster exhibitions.

What will become unexpectedly popular are salons, living room concerts and small online exhibitions. Authors writing a book through their newsletter. It all already exists, but it will grow. If you want to know the ins and outs of it, subscribe to our newsletter. You won't be disappointed.

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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