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That's how you give your city a real vision. (How Manchester became a leader in international arts in just a few years)

I have often resisted thinking of the Netherlands as a business. After all, a country cannot lay off people, or divest unprofitable sectors to make more profit. So anyone who speaks of the BV Nederland has not understood it. There are no competitors that you can fight out of the market while being entrepreneurial on those few square kilometres of polder land,... 

Anfield's best pasties work against degradation. (Lessons from Manchester, episode 4, the Liverpool edition)

There is something incredibly cosy about it. While outside the storm is howling through deserted, boarded-up shopping streets full of demolished mini houses, baking pasties against the malady. But so it does work. On the side of The Kop, the most famous stand at the Anfield stadium on Liverpool's Oakfield Road, Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk established a neighbourhood cooperative in 2012, when megalomaniacal urban renewal plans... 

Investing in culture is pointless if you can't think ten years ahead. (Lessons from Manchester, episode 3)

When a Dutchman thinks about art, he thinks of buildings that cannot support themselves, played by, or hung with work by, people who cannot sustain themselves. So money must be added, and we call this subsidy. In this way, art subsidies become a suspicious form of welfare, more suspicious than the billions in income support that wealthy... 

Hide the books, if you want people in the library. (Lessons from Manchester, episode 2)

A real estate agent once confided in me that a bookcase in the living room saves thousands of euros in the resale value of a house. In a negative sense. This fact always does well at parties, and book lovers (my network is full of them) grudge it. On a tour of Manchester Central Library, the head librarian proudly told us that the café... 

'Millions still watch the BBC' (Lessons from Manchester, episode 1)

Travelling makes you a better person. Everyone thinks so, and it is a great favour to be able to travel. A privilege to be able to do it. If you go to England by train, the last few minutes before you disappear under the Channel at Calais, you see more and more fences appearing. And we are not talking about the average... 

Frida, poignant images of a tormented soul. Or vice versa.

Full-length classical ballet Frida once again creates the Annabelle effect

How many female choreographers do you know who create a full-length ballet for a top classical ballet company? - I thought. Before going to Frida, I get word that a Latin American young woman has been hospitalised. Loss of a lot of blood, and unborn child. The cheerful girl I know weakly raises a thumb from the hospital bed on WhatsApp.... 

'My cat saved me from death'. Seven life questions to author Jeanette Winterson

When it turned out she was in love with a girl, she fled her unhappy childhood with her strict religious adoptive parents. The book she wrote about it, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, made her world-famous overnight. But as an adult, she still got the bill. It was her cat that saved her from a self-chosen death. Seven life questions to... 

Why the most artistic film genre struggles to get off the ground. The growing pains of the dance film, part 1.

There is a lot of grumbling about Dutch cinema: it is too good, not creative enough, there is not enough experimentation. However, there is one small island where other laws apply. Where, sometimes with hefty budgets and sometimes for next to nothing, films are made that speak a different language: the dance film. No psychologising, no endless dialogue, but... 

'We have become spectators rather than actors'; Philipp Blom tells performing artists on SPOT-Live what is at stake.

'We are on the brink of a new cultural revolution. We need to move away from our paradigm and art can play a role in this. Art can show us images of a different future, a different thought. Artists can help bring that realisation in.' Speaking is writer and journalist Philipp Blom. In 2017, his... 

In Gentleman Jack, Anne Lister does not let established gender roles hold her back.

Anne Lister. This 19th-century lady was a pioneer in many fields: she climbed mountains, travelled far away on her own and was successful in business. However, she gained fame mainly through her private life. Anne Lister has been called Britain's first modern lesbian. During her lifetime, she kept several diaries, in which she recorded her erotic escapades with ladies in... 

People no longer want to be seen as toys. We can't get around it. Museums can't get around it.

Searching for what I stand for and what path I should take, time and again I come across facts that confuse and amaze me. I live in a country where only a single woman is in De Volkskrant top ten most influential people - in tenth place, that is. Only three out of 100 young Dutch millionaires... 

The songs that slap you in the face rock hard in an unguarded moment

In 2016, I was unexpectedly struck by a Beatles classic. So what are the ingredients of perfect pop music? It is August 2016. I am standing with my friend at a ticket office in Liverpool, the British port city that is just as much an open-air museum. It is rather rubbed in on us that this city gave birth to The Beatles. In the harbour, tourists spend the night in a yellow submarine, equally... 

The @Hollandfestival Proms are many, bold and full. Every now and then, that's quite nice

That George Benjamin is this year's Holland Festival court composer makes perfect sense. And I say that as a non-expert. After all: the way contemporary classical music is often written and talked about scares laymen like me. Would I ever have enough knowledge to appreciate those gourmet sounds? On Saturday night, I made my first live acquaintance... 

Between nappy and dishes - the (in)visibility of female composers

Amsterdam, 8 March 2018. Today is Women's Day, no one can fail to notice. The media are brimming with articles about women's unequal pay and their still limited representation in prestigious positions. Whether in politics, business, academia or the arts. Perhaps the most conservative is the classical music world. There, the female composer has yet to... 

The only one - review in letter form (Why Peter Perrett is a true survivor)

Hey H., Tonight I went with J.P. to see Peter Perrett & Band at Paradiso, Small Hall. Sold out! I've told you about J. before, he was the deejay who gave me a 'crash course' in sincere music at the Eindhoven Bakery when I was 15 (1988). Before I tell you about Peter Perrett and why his music is worth... 

Public broadcasting is salvageable. (Why football should go to commercial)

Our public broadcasting system is unique in the world. Unfortunately, it is not something to be particularly proud of. The system and the thinking behind it are virtually incomprehensible. Or, as NTR director Paul Römer put it less diplomatically in August: we have 'a backward system that cannot be explained to anyone (anymore)'. It was a sideline in his interview with... 

Mantra (I): Pushing for Jussen brothers swaying Stockhausen #HF17

Lucas and Arthur Jussen are 'hot'. You could call the young piano brothers the headliner of this Holland Festival Proms. Well before the start of their concert, visitors are therefore already gathering in the corridors around the main hall of the Concertgebouw. Everyone is out for a good seat. To sit, because standing, as we know it from... 

Forbidden Music Regained: web archive of persecuted composers

On Wednesday 20 June, Kajsa Ollongren launched the website Forbidden Music Regained at the Uilenburgersjoel in Amsterdam. The capital's deputy mayor and alderman for culture quoted astronaut Neil Armstrong, calling the project 'a giant step for mankind'. She continued, "The website is also important for the city of Amsterdam, because we cannot and must not forget what happened in our city seventy years ago. 

Rufus Norris makes theatre out of Brexit: 'Theatres are the echo chamber of the leftist bubble'

The wind blows harder there than elsewhere. The light is greyer there than further afield. London's south bank, for years 'the other side' of the English capital's posh city centre, has been the subject of several waves of renewal in the last century. It began in 1951 with the construction of concert hall 'Southbank Centre', followed in 1976, after years of wrangling, by the building in the same... 

Hymn to St. Cecilia by Britten: state dangerous (c)ode?

On Friday 10 February in Utrecht, the Nederlands Kamerkoor will kick off its concert series Sacred and Profane, based on Benjamin Britten's choral work of the same name. The programme also includes his popular cycle Hymn to St Cecilia, which he composed during World War II. The score was confiscated by the US Customs Service in 1942 because it allegedly contained codes that were dangerous to the state. The American fear of a... 

Does anyone know what Hollywood did to his balls?

Before I started studying, I had oceans of time to read. Besides high literature like The World of Sofie by Jostein Gaarder, I also read books from the Bruna Top Ten. This included Dan Brown's Angels & Demons series, the fourth part of which was recently filmed. Director Ron Howard, however, addressed the ethical issue with which the book ends... 

LGW, which is listening in total, focused fraternisation

It is around 11 o'clock on Sunday evening. Jlin taps a rattling beat in the air with her index fingers. When the relentlessly sucking bass kicks in, she accompanies it with an elbow down. Her grin from ear to ear is met with cheers from the audience. Le Guess Who? 2016 (hereafter LGW) is coming to an end, but that's what these... 

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