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One-half meter art is an economic disaster. But it is also a godsend. Turn it into a lottery.

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As a professional art visitor, I rarely find myself in empty halls. Premieres are always full, so are press viewings and vernissages. Full is of course very cool. Although those full rooms I am in then usually cost more money than they bring in, because the tickets are free and the drinks on the house. Outside the premiere, but especially outside the premiere city, the reality is usually different. In what Amsterdammers call 'the province', fewer audiences come. Especially for the 'harder' (marketable) offerings, the 100-person maximum in a building outside the Randstad from 1 July is quite a challenge. In Cuyk, that's when they open the champagne.

But this story is not about that opportunity, but about that obligatory empty room, and how happy you can be with that, as a visitor. Imagine 30 people in the Rijksmuseum! The whole Night Watch room for you, without hordes of photographing tourists. And what about a theatre hall, where you finally have an unobstructed view of the stage, with no hair piled up in front of you, with no manspreading and loud-breathing spectator next to you, with a crackling bag of Fisherman's Friend right behind you.

Seen from the stage

The photos of the one-and-a-half-meter halls were all taken from the stage. Logical: when the stage is your profession, a fragmented stand is a terrible sight. By the way, you usually don't see it during your performance, because the stands are not lit during your performance. you only see the first two or three rows. Usually the theatre or concert hall asks the audience, when the audience is low, to sit as far forward as possible. For the people on stage, the hall is still a bit full.

But seen from the audience, watching and listening to a play or concert with nice legroom and a serving table next to you is not a punishment at all. Then the artists are playing just for you. How exclusive is that?

Socially unsustainable

Too exclusive. That's the problem. Not because it is economically unfeasible, because theatres and concert halls are going to be kept afloat. It's mainly socially untenable, because the arts will once again become the exclusive domain of those few people on the institution's friends list, the people who have highways to be the first on hold, the people with fast computers. Journalists and bloggers on the press list.

Art, especially art that is maintained with subsidy money, should be for everyone, so everyone should also have the chance to experience the one-and-a-half-metre art that is so thoroughly exclusive. Then there is only one thing to do: raffle off the seats in your gallery, and the time slots in your museum. So instead of selling tickets, sell lottery tickets for Hans Kesting's latest and raffle off the thirty seats among the buyers. Makes a nice penny and adds an element of play.

And legally it has long been possible, as the bigger lotteries, held up in part by the uncritical Joop, have been doing it this way for years with tickets to musicals. It would be innovation number one, of what is hopefully going to be a huge wave of innovation, because of Corona. After all, to the Spanish Flu we have the breakthrough of the gramophone due?

Cultural press works differently. You decide what this story is worth!

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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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