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Nerd podcast #11: Samora Bergtop on white criticism with white critics Marijn Lems and Wijbrand Schaap

'We think we can think diversely, but ultimately there has to be an exchange in that thinking. Then you also have to let other perspectives come in. So you don't have to come up with it all by yourself.' Samora Bergtop has views on theatre criticism and how it could come out of its white bubble. Marijn lems and yours truly enter the conversation 

Godfried Bomans: respectively loved, vilified, misunderstood and forgotten

Godfried Bomans died half a century ago. Almost immediately afterwards, the Netherlands' best-loved writer sank into oblivion. It is time for a reappraisal of Bomans' literary work and even his political views. I delved into the archives, also looking for the few traces of Bomans in Amersfoort. First some round figures. Seventy years ago, he delivered a lecture... 

Dutch artists call for massive support for free theatre producers.

In a fire letter to Minister van Engelshoven, more than a thousand actors and directors ask to financially support the free theatre producers in the Corona crisis. Together, the free theatre producers annually provide 60% of the supply in Dutch theatres and theatres. They do so with their own investments and without subsidies. Through the measures taken in the fight against Corona 

Why the magnificent annual figures of the theatre and concert hall managements make it clear that the system must be turned around. 

Things are once again going insane for Dutch theatres and concert halls. Every year, the directors, gathered in the VSCD, manage to come out with truly fantastic figures in the autumn. This year too, the cheers are unrelenting. Everything is growing. The number of jobs, and the number of volunteers, for example. (both up by 3% in... 

We are nowhere near crazy enough. Why theatre desperately needs a little more Crazy Wisdom.

'We will never be 'the same' enough, we fringe characters: bipolar, borderline, gay, lesbian, indeterminate, narcissistic, autistic, hysterical - and we are all fatally insecure and we all need a hug.' Permanent, seemingly inevitable insecurity is peculiar to the theatre industry. Ramsey Nasr hit that sharply in his speech on receiving his second Louis D'Or. The courage, or sometimes almost masochistic... 

New audiences for subsidised theatre? The Netherlands is working against that.

Together with two 12-year-old kids, I go to a theatre performance. To a theatre performance labelled 'adult performance'. Tickets cost 25. Discount for students. Discount for CJP. No discount for children, excuse me, youngsters, because yes, those two bridge students are already 12. Is this performance made for children? No. It is made for the curious, open viewer, for... 

Two more than deserved awards for 'the Netherlands' only truly innovative theatre'

Would it happen after all? Would Liesbeth Coltof's dream really come true? For 36 years, she made theatre in which the age of the audience played no role. On Saturday 6 October, she received the Oeuvre Prize from the Association of Theatre Directors (VSCD) from the hands of Hedy d'Ancona. In doing so, she surpassed Ivo van Hove. The internationally breakthrough leader of the... 

Sharp rise in volunteering in Dutch museums #fairpractice

The chances of being helped in a museum by someone standing there unpaid, purely for her fun, have increased considerably in recent years. This is especially true for museum shops, museum cafés and cloakrooms - in short, anything related to commercial activities and operations. This is evident from a closer examination of the rather jubilant 2017 figures, which the Museum Association... 

The Netherlands is festivalised. And why that is a very good thing. Collaborating festivals come out with a pamphlet (and ask for money)

Grandpa tells. In 1989, a committee of experts chose a different theatre course in my city, Utrecht. The just-risen festival Theater aan de Werf would get more money, the marching theatre would disappear from 't Hoogt and the rest would have to take care of the newcomer with fewer days of programming. Then we took to the streets against the so-called 'festivalisation',... 

Theatre boards want more money for 'difficult' offerings.

More operas and classical concerts are offered in Dutch theatres and concert halls. More theatre was also offered for young people. Nice developments, but the increase in supply (3 per cent) did not directly lead to a proportionate increase in audiences. That increased by only 1 per cent. The number of spectators for theatre and cabaret even fell. Therefore. 

Rainer Hofmann (SPRING): 'After the populist attack from the right, the performing arts now face an attack from the left.'

Thursday 17 May opens SPRING Performing Arts Festival in Utrecht with, among others, Sic Transit Gloria Mundi by Dries Verhoeven and to come (extended) by Mette Ingvartsen. Over ten days, over twenty-five international dance and theatre productions, installations and performance works will be on show in public spaces and urban environments. A week earlier, festival director Rainer Hofmann looks relaxed. 'Until now... 

Guy Coolen on Operadagen Rotterdam: 'We call ourselves a bluff festival'

'If Mohammed doesn't come to the mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammed,' they thought at Operadagen Rotterdam. Earlier this year, the Enschede-based Nederlandse Reisopera gave a press presentation in Carré. This time, the Rotterdammers travelled to the capital. Artistic director Guy Coolen and dramaturge Tobias Kokkelmans told a select club of journalists what the audience could expect from 18-27 May,... 

Culture Council wants review of system, but cautious 'Theatre Sector Opinion' is licence for arbitrariness by House of Representatives

Today, the Culture Council comes out with one of the weaker advices in its existence. The Netherlands' highest cultural advisory body showed vision, leadership and boldness earlier this season with the 'Verkenning' and the 'Sectoradvies Muziek'. The exploration called for a reversal of subsidy flows, with urban regions taking the initiative. In the advice for the music sector, it broke... 

Five weeks of Bambie in Utrecht? Could just be the way to a more diverse culture

Speaking of diversity, within the dominantly white theatre audience, it is also full of bubbles. Over the past two weeks, for instance, I have just let it dawn on me how little overlap there is between the audiences of the two art theatres in my city, Utrecht. At least: for a while I sort of immersed myself in the world of... 

Beatles tour bus (replica) Photo: Chris Samson CC.BY 2.0

You had one chance to sustainably improve arts subsidies

The decision will be official in mid-September, but behind the scenes it has already been made. The Netherlands will have a very small basic cultural infrastructure for the performing arts, and a very large fund that anyone who wants to make theatre, dance, mime or music must apply to. I asked around a bit recently, and so that's what it's going to be. That way, politicians can't... 

Why it is beyond stupid of the NPO to move Radio Kunststof

Radio Kunststof is one of the most successful early-evening programmes on our national disaster channel Radio 1. That success is partly due to its great formula: a long conversation with a more or less well-known figure from the arts and media corner. However, much more important reason for that success is the broadcast time. Between seven and eight in the evening, very... 

Dramatic increase in volunteering in theatres and concert halls.

One of the highlights of the year is always the presentation of 'the figures' by the Association of Theatre and Concert Hall Directors (VSCD). As it happens, these are unabatedly positive. For years. And so for years it has been a challenge to find out why those positive figures are so difficult to reconcile with the picture of reality. That not at all... 

Zvizdal - Chernobyl so far so close, by Berlin/The Zuidelijk Toneel

Do you want the audience back, Sarah Sluimer? Then give it back to the actors.

In the Volkskrant of 8 May 2017, Sarah Sluimer lets loose. The opinion maker (for Volkskrant and De Correspondent, among others) used to be a theatre maker and now wonders aloud why she is a bit done with theatre. Because she actually writes that down. I quote: 'I breathed theatre. I ate performances and was convinced that what was there,... 

Meg Stuart throws very ordinary bodies into the fray

Meg Stuart's two-hour heroic epic Until Our Hearts Stop, showing at the Rotterdam Schouwburg this week, does not engage in dramatic construction according to the rules of Aristotle's Poetics. We don't know who those people are there on stage. Nor do they seem to have been given any special assignment, although they are clearly being... 

Our actors are burnt out, audiences have lost their way. Save the theatre!

This play is going to cost me a lot of friends, but it needs to get out. After all, the theatre industry is doing badly. And I can see more and more clearly where that is due to. And for once it's not Halbe Zijlstra. Or the VVD, or the population, or the Netherlands in general, or the zeitgeist. And it's not because of Netflix either... 

Tefer, Itamar Serussi, Balletto di Roma, photo: Matteo Carratoni

Julidans double bill with Levi and Serussi mostly raises questions

It is a new and important trend within the programming of international dance and performance festivals in the Netherlands: not only showing relevant work by international choreographers, but also paying explicit attention to dance makers connected to Dutch dance practice. Spring Utrecht opened in May with Nicole Beutler and closed with Jan Martens, while during Julidans Pere Faura was allowed to kick off with sin baile no hay paraíso (no dance, no paradise).

Art in the pincers. Why theatres do have to come up with jubilant figures.

A week ago, the theatres affiliated to the VSCD presented fine figures at their annual conference. Although the number of performances fell, average attendance had risen yet again. Many in the sector frowned, and after doing some calculations, Wijbrand Schaap, after initially positive news, concluded that the performing arts are not doing so well at all. And even that message can be criticised; the VSCD does not include all theatres, some of them are...

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Figures don't lie: Dutch venues are doing badly

It must have been down to my indestructible mood, and the deep need to finally deliver some good news about the cultural sector, but I was so wrong. Tuesday I reported that the performing arts were recovering after Halbe Zijlstra's draconian cuts, but that is so not the case. As much as the sector itself would like it to do well, the figures contradict it time and again.

Surely the Association of Theatre and Concert Hall Directors has taken us all for a ride again. With a real infographic still do. But, as it goes with infographics: you can put in all the bright colours and shouts, and even shout 'Bravo!' and 'Applause!'at the bottom, the numbers themselves don't lie, even if you present them slightly differently than last year.

Theatres are doing better and better: 6 lessons from the VSCD @congresPK

On Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 May, the VSCD met, and the Congres Podiumkunsten (@congresPK) was going on at the Nijmegen Concert Hall De Vereeniging. I went to check it out and discovered some new things.
1 The eminent gentlemen are gone.
Things have changed in Dutch theatre since the beginning of this century. Sometime around the year 2000, I was a guest at a meeting of the Association of Theatre and Concert Hall Directors, and it was a bizarre experience. I found myself among a...

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