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Goodbye movie house, longing for museums: (my) insights after corona

What does culture visit after corona look like? The topic came up regularly on this site in recent months. I myself wrote two personal contributions on it. Now that cultural institutions may almost reopen their doors, the crystal ball is giving way to reality.

In my article on 'the promise of the empty room' I noted a hesitation in renewing the film house's friends pass. That hesitation has become a definite goodbye. The film house is no longer my place. Arthouse films I can watch cheaper and more comfortably at home via Netflix, NPO-plus, Picl, Pathé home, Cinemember, etc.

Added to this: I am a solitary film viewer. Going to a movie house is often also a social activity. Catching up under the pre-films, discussing the film afterwards with a drink or even more sweets and sorrows. So my advice to film houses would be to pay much more attention to this social aspect.

Performances for singles

A nice example is that in my hometown (Amersfoort), performances for singles are held with great success. Raise the ticket price slightly and then get the first drink free, as in many theatres? The 'movies that matters' series creates a sense of community. Perhaps more theme nights are also an option.

Cities with multiple movie houses have a richer selection. Perhaps arthouse films can be seen there that are missing from streaming services.

Cold sweat breaks out in me

My second contribution  was a somewhat ironic yearning for more comfort in the theatre. Now - a few months later - I still cannot quite imagine taking my seat again in a crowded theatre with barely any legroom, lousy seats, queues at the cloakroom and/or coughing people around me. I wrote then that I long for a theatre with the luxury of a Pathé cinema.

Perhaps it is a matter of getting used to it (again). But at the moment, I do not detect any desire to enter a theatre hall again. In fact: the very idea of it makes me break out in a cold sweat. So not for a while yet.

But not everything is negative.

Lived through with heart and soul

Just a few months ago, I wrote that I no longer saw much point in going to a concert hall. After all, CDs or DVDs were an alternative (hear, hear Hugo de Jonge). How could I have been so stupid? Right now, I can't wait to hear performances of Gorecki, Mahler, Saariaho, Schubert or Glass live again.

For opera, I made an exception and the desire to witness an opera performance live has only increased. I am a great lover of classical song and even those concerts (as long as they do not take place in such cramped theatres) are now calling again like the sirens to Odysseus. A ticket for Eva-Maria Westbroek's recital at Amsterdam's Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ has been bought.

And of course heartening that The International Song Festival Zeist (ILFZ) holds an online festival day on 6 June, but it is really looking forward to the real thing in October. From 22 to 31 October, the fifth edition will take place. I am counting down the days.

Yet here, too, a side note: too often in recent years I have attended concerts that I had forgotten after ten minutes. Too much routine on stage or too little attention from the listener. The pandemic has (re)revived the desire for sincerity, a concert experience lived with heart and soul.

Surrounded by a wealth of culture

The biggest surprise after all the corona misery is that I missed museum visits immensely. I had never considered that - perhaps partly because of its low-threshold nature - high on the cultural ladder. You don't have to buy a ticket in advance, decide the where and when of your visit and walk right in with your Museum Year Card. Doesn't sound like a unique experience and so it is.

As I thought about this further, I realised that this is not just to do with the art on display. Museums have a secondary function (for me). I sit on a bench surrounded by a wealth of culture, watch life around me and feel at home.

I used to have that with libraries. But since books play a secondary role there and they have become 'meeting places'', museums have taken over that role.

I find stillness and depth in museums. Another insight corona gave me.

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Onno Weggemans

At CulturePress, I combine my passion for culture with my love of writing. I have a broad cultural interest and target a wide audience. I like to choose a personal angle and like to experiment occasionally in terms of form.View Author posts

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