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Call by Wim Claessen, former director of Theatre Festival Boulevard: 'Are there any directors left who dare to turn the tide?'

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This is a letter sent in by Wim Claessen, who was a founder of Boulevard in 1984, and passed the baton to Geert Overdam in 2002, who was succeeded by Viktorien van Hulst in 2014.

"It is a disgrace that we are still standing here," spoke Viktorien van Hulst at the opening of Theatre Festival Boulevard at the Theatre on the Parade. "How, in this Cultural City of the South, has it taken more than a decade to build a new theatre?" the director wondered again. "Our ideal theatre has an architecture that invites you to enter, a grandstand that invites an active viewing position." With this statement, Viktorien underlined the annoyance and disappointment of many with a policy that has been swerving around the Theater aan de Parade since 2006/2010/2013 (you may choose). Finally a powerful voice from the cultural sector itself. It was about time.

Viktorien then emphasised this with a cry from the heart: "With BLVR&D, Boulevard chooses a very visible form that theatre anno 2019 should have. A theatre today should no longer be a building, with an auditorium, a place for your coat and opportunity to have a cup of coffee or something to eat. A theatre is not just a place where the auditorium light goes out every night at 8pm for a few hours of imagination. This is how theatres have been built since the mid-17th century. A theatre of today should be a public space. A place where people meet, where there is movement for many more hours a day. A place where different people, perspectives, lives, stories come together".

Theatre Festival Boulevard was organised for the 35th time this year. 35 years of searching for innovation, connection and cooperation, all headwinds notwithstanding. Many stairs and stands have been built, to give it structure, always successfully. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience, drawn from and grounded in the current world of art and culture, nationally and internationally. Use that, seize that opportunity, climb those stairs, is my advice to the new director. Therein lies the starting point for a new policy vision for theatre and music on the Parade and in the Kop van het Zand. These should not be separate. The current location on the Parade was and still is too small to realise all those ideas and wishes. And don't forget to include the Joseph Quarter in that.

Who dares? Are there any directors left who dare to turn the tide?

Wim Claessen

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