News

  • Wave of Dutch youth arts in US

    Photo by Bowie Verschuuren

    Wave of Dutch youth arts in US

    8 January 2019
    Throughout 2019, Never Grow Up! presents an abundance of Dutch film, literature and performing arts for young audiences in the United States.

    A joint effort of Dutch Performing Arts, the CGNY, Eye International, Netherlands Film Fund, Cinekid, Dutch Foundation for Literature, and DutchCulture, the programme aims to stimulate the dissemination and visibility of Dutch youth arts as well as cultural exchange and partnerships with renowned US-based presenters and organisations.

    Uniquely Dutch
    Dutch youth arts are known for their artistry and high production value while often tackling challenging subjects, ranging from the commercial to the chaotic, the playful to provocative and poetic, the silly to the serious, and everything in between. In the Netherlands, filmmakers, writers and performers take children and their personal experiences seriously. Unafraid to take artistic risks, publicly-funded makers in particular like to go off the beaten path of typical children’s stories and address topical issues head-on. At the same time, Dutch youth arts are characterized by their sense of humor, playfulness and light take on things, and are equally enjoyed by grown-ups. DutchCulture has picked up on the rise of Dutch youth arts internationally and is publishing a series on Culture for Kids, in which we elaborate the history of our playful upbringing. At the Conference International Culture for kids we exchanged ideas on the uniqueness of Dutch youth arts and presented outstanding showcases.

    What’s on?
    Dutch work will be presented at events and venues such as IPAY Showcase, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Kennedy Center, New York International Children’s Film Festival and Brooklyn Book Festival. Presenters and agencies are invited to attend screenings, readings and performances, meet directors, writers and performers, and discuss opportunities for collaboration and exchange. For more information and the schedule so far, please visit Never Grow Up

     

     

    Organization: 
    Dutch Performing Arts
    Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York, United States of America
    EYE Film Institute Netherlands
    Netherlands Film Fund
    Cinekid
    Dutch Foundation For Literature
    DutchCulture
  • Brexit: "we need to carry on talking to each other"

    Brexit: "we need to carry on talking to each other"

    7 January 2019
    Interview with Jude Henderson, director of the Federation of Scottish Theatre, about Brexit and the possible consequences for the cultural sector in Scotland.
    By Bambi Bogert

    Jude Henderson is director of the Federation of Scottish Theatre, which represents the professional theater, dance and opera sector in Scotland. One of the keynote speakers of Programme Brexit during Europe Day 2018, she feels that collaboration matters now, more than ever.

    What have the reactions to Brexit been from the Scottish arts and culture sector?
    The main message is that we are committed to working with our European partners, we want to remain open to collaboration. The majority of our members definitely don’t want to leave the European Union – Scotland voted not to leave. And we are really keen to stay in contact, to build new relationships and maintain the relationships we already have. We believe that theater, dance and opera are a vital part of who we are. Of understanding ourselves and, more importantly, other people.

    What will the immediate effects of Brexit be? Not just for Scotland, but for European artists in general?
    I think there will be a number of impacts. For artists there may be issues bringing their work to and from the UK. Everything will possibly be more difficult: it will take longer to set up partnerships, it will cost more. But a lot of things depend on whether we have a transition period. If so, it will give us more time to work out how to make the necessary changes. Britain has driven a lot of cultural policy and diplomacy, so the question is: how will it be when we’re no longer in Europe, but have to operate alongside Europe? I don’t think anybody knows yet. We hope that ultimately all this will bring people closer together. That it will be an object lesson of why not to go!

    Are there any upsides to the Brexit?
    Well, perhaps there is a slightly belated recognition of how important culture is. We all have our own cultural traditions and history, but it is our shared values that are actually really important. And I think that some of the decisions by the Commission and the Parliament in terms of increasing the culture budget for Europe are recognizing this. It’s also really important that we hear the voices that are not being heard. I think that what Brexit shows, along with the rise of populism and nationalism, is that some people feel they have no voice. The only way they can show how unhappy they are with the status quo is by these big, explosive votes. Which in the end won’t benefit them. So really we need to carry on talking and listening to each other. And theater, dance and opera are an amazing way of doing this.

    What makes Scotland different in its approach, culturally?
    I think there is a valuing of culture and education historically in Scotland that is perhaps more European than in England. We have a different education system in Scotland, we have a different cultural heritage. There is a distinct identity, which is not the same as in England. For example, a recent survey of Scottish households showed that most people are very supportive of spending government money on culture. Regardless of their socioeconomic background. So there may be some differences between England and Scotland. I do think the need to listen to one another is really important, because we won’t mend anything by continuing to say that people are just so completely different, that we can’t talk to them, or hear them.

    How is Scotland dealing with the looming Brexit?
    Well, it’s been slightly traumatic for our country. A lot of people voted to stay in the UK, because they were worried about leaving the EU. And now there’s talk of Scotland potentially becoming independent so we can remain part of the EU. Bear in mind that every single area of Scotland saw the majority of people voting to remain. And our government is really clear as well, they are doing everything they can to remain outward facing. It’s so important that we don’t become insular, small and stuck on our island. We know that we belong in Europe. We’re really committed to staying here.

    What would your advice be to artists and people in the cultural sector?
    I think it’s to just keep talking to one another. Keep in contact with the people you already know, ask them to introduce you to new people, build new relationships. If we do have a transition stage, we’ll be pushing really hard in the UK and Scotland to develop new partnerships. And I hope that these existing and new projects can be a bridge to a new way of working. Which will have to involve working together. Because we always have done – and we always will.

    Picture: Paul Dallimore (The Standard)

     

    Organization: 
    Federation of Scottish Theatre
  • DutchCulture presents new database

    Still uit 'NO_THING' van Milla & Partner´s Innovation Lab

    DutchCulture presents new database

    17 December 2018
    From now on, anyone can easily overview all Dutch cultural activities abroad. The database contains over 5500 profiles that can be searched and contacted.
    By Sara Luijters

    For many years already, DutchCulture has been keeping track of all international activities by Dutch cultural organisations, performers and artists abroad. All this information can now be consulted very easily in the new database. “Our goal with this database is to make it easier for people to operate internationally.”

    If a foreign cultural institution wants to know which Dutch theatre company, visual artist, writer or musician they could ask for a performance, exhibition or event in their country, this usually has to rely on word-of-mouth communication. Conversely, many culture-makers obtain commissions abroad through their own networks. Without these word-of-mouth recommendations or personal networks, it can be quite challenging to work abroad as an artist or cultural organisation. Where to start, and who should you get in touch with?

    The memory bank of the Dutch cultural sector
    DutchCulture’s renewed database, which contains over 5500 Dutch organisations and artists and around 13000 foreign platforms, could fulfil an important role in this, says Anouk Fienieg, head of international cultural policy at DutchCulture. “We have worked intensively on the new database for one year, and it should function as the memory bank of the Dutch cultural sector. We have collected all the details of every artist or organisation that has ever received a subsidy from a public cultural fund for work abroad, or that was registered by a Dutch embassy or that registered directly with us. All Dutch-international art and cultural projects from 2017 -2018 can now be retrieved from the database, and all previous activities reaching back to the year 2000 will be made available retroactively.”

    International CV
    When you visit the database, you will see a revolving globe filled with dashes. These dashes represent the track record of all Dutch organisations and artists that worked abroad in 2017 (we will update the globe as soon as 2018 is completed). The fact that their international CV can now be found at the click of a button makes it easier for potential partners abroad to contact them. And for artists or organisations that want to start working abroad for the first time, the database offers a wealth of information. It means that people no longer need to reinvent the wheel. Fienieg: “Say you’re a visual artist who wants to organise an exhibition in a gallery in Berlin. Then you can use our database to find out what colleague preceded you there, who you should get in touch with, and who financed the projects on the receiving end. The goal of our database is to make it easier for Dutch artists and organisations to work abroad.”

    Culture export
    Facts & figures about Dutch culture makers worldwide have also become much more transparent by the new database. Now you can see at a glance how many Dutch people worked in Germany in 2017 and in which sector. Thanks to the database’s transparency, everyone can see exactly what is happening; from ministry and cultural institution to cultural fund and maker. “This kind of information is very useful for policy makers. If there is a sudden surge in Dutch artists visiting a particular country, policymakers can prioritise that country and make plans in a much more targeted manner,” Fienieg explains. “Policy plans can also be better tested using the database: did something work out well or not? How can the policy connect more successfully with the wishes and needs of the people involved?”

    Time to reintroduce the agenda
    The database started in 1999 as an agenda listing all Dutch cultural activities abroad, but it gradually turned into an overview of cultural exports. According to Fienieg, it is time to reintroduce the agenda function, however. “It should become possible again to find information, not just about the things that have happened, but also about the things that are about to happen with regard to Dutch art and culture abroad. This will also make it possible to coordinate projects.”

    Comprehensive overview
    A lot of work was put into making every profile in the database as complete as possible, including links to the websites and social media of the artists and organisations themselves. Still, DutchCulture calls on all stakeholders to report any missing information in their profile, or to report profiles that are missing altogether. Fienieg: “We are currently working on a tool to enable artists and organisations to update or modify their own profile directly. For now they can simply email us their information and we will add it to the dataset.”

    Advancing step by step
    Since the database offers a much better picture of what is going on internationally, DutchCulture can provide better support. Fienieg: “Ultimately, our goal is to help the Dutch cultural sector advance internationally, step by step.”
     

  • “Mijn technische droom is dat ik zelf bepaal door welke bril ik data bekijk”

    Constant Dullaart

    “Mijn technische droom is dat ik zelf bepaal door welke bril ik data bekijk”

    14 December 2018
    Internetkunstenaar Constant Dullaart spreekt bij de lancering van DutchCulture's nieuwe website en database. Hoe denkt hij over de rol van data in ons leven?
    Door Sara Luijters

    Constant Dullaart belt vanuit Berlijn, al jaren zijn tweede woonplaats, naast Amsterdam, een stad waar hij de nodige kritiek op heeft: ‘Er is nauwelijks nog ruimte is om je te onderscheiden. In de kunstwereld is überhaupt weinig ruimte voor vernieuwing, maar in de Amsterdamse kunstwereld al helemaal niet.’

    Nepprofielen
    Het werk van Dullaart is vernieuwend en het is vooral te bewonderen in musea en galeries in het buitenland, de VS voorop. Veelbesproken is onder meer zijn performance uit 2014, ‘High Retention Slow Delivery. 100.000 Followers For Everyone.’, waarbij hij nepprofielen kocht, inclusief foto’s van bruiloften en vakanties en een reeks populaire hashtags, en deze vervolgens cadeau deed aan 30 kunstenaars op Instagram, tot ze allemaal exact 100k volgers hadden en ze op Insta in een klap heel succesvol en populair werden.

    Hessische soldaten
    Een andere bekend werk van Dullaart is het leger van Hessische soldaten (Duitsers die vochten voor de Britten tijdens de Amerikaanse Onafhankelijkheidsoorlog in de 18e eeuw) voor wie hij stuk voor stuk een eigen Facebook-profiel creëerde, met daarop citaten uit een essay over de Hessische identiteit, het logo van Hessen en zogenaamde ‘throwback’ plaatjes uit de jeugd van de soldaten. Dullaart gebruikte daarbij precies dezelfde tactiek als de makers van fake-accounts.

    Provocateur
    Zijn werk beweegt zich op het snijvlak van wat echt is en wat nep. Dullaart: ‘Ik pretendeer niet de oplossing te hebben voor complexe issues over data. Ik ben geïnteresseerd in de wrijving tussen het fysieke en het digitale. Als kunstenaar zie ik mijzelf vooral als provocateur; ik laat zien welke rol data spelen in ons leven. Ik probeer mij kritisch te verhouden in dit mijnenveld waarin we commerciële Amerikaanse bedrijven, zoals Facebook en Google steeds meer voor ons laten bepalen.

    Kritisch blijven
    Ook de kunstwereld heeft er mee te maken. Het aantal likes dat je op social media krijgt wordt steeds bepalender voor je populariteit, terwijl daarmee enorm kan worden gefraudeerd, onder meer door het aanschaffen van nep likes. Het aantal likes, ook als ze oprecht zijn, zegt soms ook niets over het werk van een kunstenaar. Toen mijn hond vorige week overleed plaatste ik daarover een bericht op Instagram waarop heel veel aardige reacties en likes kwamen. Dat maakt mijn kunst niet automatisch meer valide.

    Technische droom
    Culturele fondsen en instituten moeten daarom heel kritisch naar data blijven kijken. Wie heeft er toegang tot de data en hoe veilig is het? In hoeverre zijn bepaalde biases, voorkeuren voor zaken als geslacht, leeftijd, te vermijden? Is dataverkeer zonder voorkeuren überhaupt wel mogelijk? Mijn technische droom is dat ik zelf kan bepalen door welke bril ik data bekijk: vanuit een 95 jaar oude vrouw, of vanuit een 10 jarige vluchteling. Net zoals je meerdere kranten met verschillende opinies kunt lezen over hetzelfde nieuwsfeit, zou je ook moeten kunnen wisselen in hoe je data beschouwd.’

    Transparant
    Dullaart zal bij de lancering van de database van DutchCulture over het onderwerp spreken. ‘Ik moedig het aan dat de archieven nu transparant en openbaar toegankelijk zijn gemaakt. Van die data kun je in principe veel leren, bijvoorbeeld wat de effecten zijn van het beleid van de fondsen, onder meer op het gebied van diversiteit.

    Integriteit
    De keerzijde is dat, wanneer je als kunstenaar of culturele organisatie niét in de database bent opgenomen, partijen kunnen gaan denken dat je helemaal niet bestaat of er niet toe doet. Over de integriteit van het verkrijgen van data zal daarom altijd een discussie moeten blijven bestaan: hoe kun je de integriteit behouden en blijft het gesprek erover dynamisch? Hoe laat je de data zien en hoe ver ga je daarin? Wordt er bijvoorbeeld gekeken naar afkomst en huidskleur van kunstenaars, of ze wel of geen kinderen hebben? Dat klinkt verschrikkelijk, maar met die data kun je wel dingen aantonen, of het beleid veel gerichter maken.

    Echoput
    DutchCulture moet er vooral voor waken dat de database geen echoput wordt van het eigen netwerk. Idealiter zouden alle data van kunstenaars en organisaties door de fondsen geautomatiseerd moeten worden aangeleverd, om daarna nog een keer op evangelische wijze gecheckt te worden door mensen. Op die manier kan de database dienen als een volledig naslagwerk voor partners in binnen -en buitenland.’

    Tot en met 24 februari 2019 is werk van Constant Dullaart, opgebouwd uit simkaarten gebruikt in de nepvolgers industrie, te zien tijdens de expositie ‘All I Know Is What’s On The Internet’ in The Photographers’ Gallery, Londen.

    De nieuwe website en database van DutchCulture wordt dinsdag 18 december aanstaande feestelijk gelanceerd. Wie daarbij aanwezig wil zijn (en Constant Dullaart live wil horen spreken) kan zich hier aanmelden. U bent van harte welkom, het kost niets.

    Organization: 
    Constant Dullaart
  • “They’re not our arts, they’re your arts”

    Banksy does Brexit

    “They’re not our arts, they’re your arts”

    13 December 2018
    Europe Day 2018: Andrew Murray, expert in cultural relations and diplomacy, feels that the Brexit is only one of many issues facing the EU’s cultural climate.
    By Bambi Bogert

    During Europe Day 2018, Programme Brexit sparked a heated debate. What other issues are we facing around Brexit? Andrew Murray, key note speaker at Europe Day, answers questions.

    Do you think Brexit will impact the cultural sector?
    Well, in all honesty it’s a bit beyond Brexit. It’s clear that Brexit, the rise of national populism and Trump will all affect European cultural diplomacy and cultural relations. The ironic fact is that a great deal of the new European approach to cultural diplomacy has come from the UK – via the British Council. And now the UK is set to leave, just as we’re about to implement this.

    What exactly is this new European Approach?
    Instead of traditional cultural diplomacy, it’s based on what is called a ‘cultural relations approach’. This is much more about listening and understanding each other, instead of using the arts to showcase and project your own culture onto other countries. It’s based upon the values of mutuality and reciprocity. And it’s not about diplomacy: you’re not doing it for short-term goals at the behest of the Foreign Office. You’re doing it at arms length of the government. This is an important difference between cultural diplomacy and the cultural relations approach. The new European Approach is based on genuine collaboration, hands-off from the state. Basically, you’re creating a space in which artists from different cultures can collaborate and share, learn to understand and be generous with each other.

    Sounds wonderful. Surely the rest of the EU can manage, even without the UK?
    Unfortunately I’m very pessimistic about it. This new approach was developed over the past ten years, after the Treaty of Lisbon, and all 28 members of the EU have agreed to it, including the UK. However, now there’s no longer an accepted, rule-based, liberal international order. It’s all come under threat. Internally the EU faces many challenges, for example with Macron, in Poland, in Hungary… you can’t see Brexit on its own. It’s going to be very difficult for this new approach to be implemented, given not only the internal problems the EU has, Brexit and national populism, but also the lack of a reliable partner in the USA and the way China and Russia are pumping up the public diplomacy efforts.

    How are China, Russia and the USA impacting the EU on a cultural level?
    They are pushing their own view of the world. We’re moving away from what Fukuyama described as ‘the end of history’ – the thought that we we’re all going to become liberal democracies. And yet, this is exactly where the EU’s global strategies are still coming from. Mogherini’s approach is based upon the assumption of universal values, and that everyone will eventually adopt them, simply because they make sense. You know, “we’re all cosmopolitans now”. But that no longer holds true. Trump is behaving in a nationalist way, China and Russia’s views are not based on human rights, democracy and free speech. Whatever European values are, they’re not their values. And every attempt to promote European values, or basic values, or human rights, might have seemed easy ten years ago. But it’s not going to be easy now.

    During the Brexit debate, one of the topics was the fact that we lost our connection with the people who voted ‘leave’. How do we get them back?
    Actually, what I say is that we never had them in the first place. The populists and those who voted ‘leave’ view the arts as something elitist. They see it as: “they’re not our arts, they’re your arts”. Some commentators are beating their breast and saying: oh, we lost touch with the common people, that’s why they voted for Trump, or voted ‘leave’, or voted for the National Front in France, or for PiS in Poland. It’s our fault for failing to connect with them. But hold on! These guys chose the wrong road. They may be ignorant. They may be genuinely misguided. But to suggest somehow that they are right, implies that your own values are wrong. So be very careful. There are 17 million who voted ‘leave’. Whatever their position, the majority of them have a closed-mind view of the world and their nationalist, anti-immigration, racist beliefs are simply wrong! Don’t fall into the trap of feeling somehow that they’re misunderstood. We understand their position perfectly, and it’s not one we agree with.

    So what is your best advice? What should artists and people in the cultural sector do?
    We have to ask ourselves: what is the role now to be played by the arts, given the Brexit, Trump and national populism? There are many challenges facing us. And there’s no magic bullet. You can’t go out as missionaries into rural areas or poor sectors and convert everyone to liberal values – that’s not going to work. But we do need to take our position and draw some lines. And meanwhile continue what you’re doing. Keep calm and carry on.

    Andrew Murray is a recognized expert in cultural relations and diplomacy. He joined the British Council in 1988. In 2012 he moved to Brussels where he worked for EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture) and with the European Commission and the European External Action Service on the new EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations.

     

     

     

     

  • "Dutch and Hungarians make the perfect combination"

    Europe Day 2018: Jaap Scholten

    "Dutch and Hungarians make the perfect combination"

    13 December 2018
    Europe Day 2018: keynote speaker and Dutch author Jaap Scholten lives in Hungary. He tells us what it’s like to step outside your comfort zone. Let us learn!
    By Bambi Bogert

    Fifteen years ago, Dutch author Jaap Scholten moved to Hungary, together with his family. At Europe Day 2018, his keynote speech reflected on the differences between Eastern and Western European culture, and – in accordance with the theme of the day – what it’s like to step outside your comfort zone.

    What can Westerners learn from Hungary and other Eastern European countries?
    Their chivalry and valor, their love of tradition. They missed out on the revolutionary sixties, the entire hippie movement. So society is still much more conventional and orderly, it’s a bit like stepping back into the fifties. There’s also an incredible sense of craftsmanship, in every imaginable field. From violinists to builders. They still follow the master-apprentice principle, where students are taught by experts and take years to hone their craft. Sadly this is virtually obsolete in today’s Western Europe. But in Hungary, you’ll find the most amazing carpenters, painters – you name it. Their general school system is very Prussian – incredibly strict. The best pupils are sent away to special schools and turned into geniuses.

    “Author Timothy Snyder describes the countries between Russia and Germany as ‘Bloodlands’. Countries where history has wreaked havoc for centuries. Hungary has brought forth thirteen Nobel Prize winners.”

    “It’s a general bias: everyone wants to go West and nobody wants to go East. East is full of savages. But this idea needs to change. To the East lies a world that we have lost.”  
    – from Jaap Scholten’s keynote speech

    It sounds like quite a productive system
    On the contrary. People are unwilling to take any initiative. In the Netherlands, we have a very practical attitude: we like to get the job done and we don’t like to overcomplicate things. Hungary is the exact opposite. Hungarians see nothing but obstacles, they’ll want to discuss every possible issue to no end. Failure is always close at hand, and its consequences can be grave. Society is extremely top-down and hierarchal. I think it’s all to do with Communism. During that period, people learned that it was better to do nothing at all, than to risk making a fatal error. And so they are always on the lookout for any excuse that will allow them to opt-out.

    “For someone like me, who grew up in the safe, humdrum tranquility of the Netherlands, it’s hard to imagine, let alone comprehend, what it really means to grow up under a dictatorship.”
    – from Jaap Scholten’s keynote speech

    You make it sound terrible!
    Well, it’s a pretty dreary place. Man is a wretched creature, life is an uphill battle and in the end, we’re all screwed anyway - that’s the general mentality. As a Dutchman, I’m seen as Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky. That said, the Hungarian mindset teaches people to become deep thinkers. Hungarians like to think ahead – way ahead – about anything that might transpire. No wonder they’re also great chess players. And when they finally do embark on a project, they’ve thought of every little detail, and already worked out the solution to any issues that might arise. Whereas we tend to jump in feet first and hope for the best. Actually, Dutch and Hungarians make the perfect combination.

    “Because people often weren’t at liberty to speak freely in Eastern Europe, metaphors were able to blossom. Communism forced people to handle language with care. Humor was omnipresent and it had to be clever. Literature was and is taken seriously. Writers and poets are taken seriously.”
    – from Jaap Scholten’s keynote speech

    How do these typical Hungarian traits impact arts and culture?
    One of the few advantages of Communism is the fact that it made arts and culture accessible to everyone. In the Netherlands, the opera or theater is still somewhat elitist. But in Hungary, it really is a part of general culture. You can still buy tickets for the opera that cost next to nothing. And they invented the Kodály Method, named for the Hungarian composer. It’s a fantastic approach to music education that was taught in every school. I’m pretty useless when it comes to performing arts: I don’t play any instruments and I can’t sing to save my life. But in Hungary, almost everyone can sing beautifully, or play piano or the violin. I think that’s wonderful.

    “Politics isn’t bringing us any closer together, the European Parliament isn’t succeeding either, the Council of Europe appears to be partial to Caviar Diplomacy from the East, the church no longer plays any role of importance, corporations only care about their quarterly figures. The arts can, and must, build these bridges.”
    – from Jaap Scholten’s keynote speech

     

  • Europees Erfgoedjaar afgesloten in Rotterdam

    Rodin - European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018

    Europees Erfgoedjaar afgesloten in Rotterdam

    12 December 2018
    Op 11 december was de feestelijke afsluiting van het Nederlandse programma van het Europees Jaar van het Cultureel Erfgoed.

    De afsluiting vond plaats in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen te Rotterdam. Schrijver Abdelkader Benali en kunsthistoricus Wim Pijbes gaven hun visie op cultureel Europa. Onder leiding van prof. dr. Hester Dibbits en dr. Marinke Steenhuis werden panelgesprekken gevoerd over belangrijke Europese erfgoedthema’s, zoals beladen erfgoed en het veranderende cultuurlandschap. Jonge erfgoedprofessionals onderstreepten het belang van een grotere arbeidsdeelname van jongeren binnen het erfgoedveld.

    Een hoogtepunt was de presentatie van de eindpublicatie met daarin een Nederlandse Toekomstagenda Europees Erfgoed, die werd overhandigd aan Barbera Wolfensberger, directeur-generaal Cultuur en Media bij het ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap. De publicatie bevat aanbevelingen en initiatieven waardoor de impuls die dit themajaar gaf aan meer Europese samenwerking en afstemming binnen het erfgoedveld vanuit Nederland de komende jaren een duurzaam vervolg kan krijgen.

    Meer dan 300 activiteiten

    ‘Erfgoed verbindt, Europa inspireert’: met die slogan ging in januari het Nederlandse programma van het Europees Jaar van het Cultureel Erfgoed van start. Het doel van het themajaar was om meer mensen te inspireren om het Europese erfgoed te ontdekken en te beleven, en zo meer bewust te worden van het feit dat wij al eeuwenlang behoren tot een grensoverstijgende samenleving, met diverse culturele waarden en tradities.

    De Europese Commissie riep, op verzoek van de lidstaten, het Erfgoedjaar uit. Het Nederlandse programma van het Europees Jaar van het Cultureel Erfgoed werd geïnitieerd vanuit het Erfgoedplatform Plus van Kunsten ’92 in samenwerking met het ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap, de Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed en DutchCulture. Met veel enthousiasme pakten in het hele land (erfgoed)organisaties het initiatief ‘bottom-up’ op. Er werden meer dan 300 activiteiten georganiseerd, die het erfgoed vierden en die de verbondenheid van ons land en onze geschiedenis met de rest van Europa voor een groot en divers publiek zichtbaar maakten. Die activiteiten varieerden van Europese eetcultuurdiners en burgemeesters die bloggen over lokaal Europees erfgoed tot parachutesprongen op de Zuidelijke Waterlinie. Van de Open Monumentendag met als thema ‘In Europa’ tot expertmeetings en de door de Young Underground Professionals georganiseerde Archeonacht in het Rijksmuseum van Oudheden.

    Uitdagingen

    Het themajaar raakte ook aan de uitdagingen waar het erfgoed voor staat. Hoe gaan we bijvoorbeeld om met het ‘betwiste’ of ‘beladen’ erfgoed? Met de soms te grote druk op erfgoedlocaties van massatoerisme? Met leegstaand erfgoed, dat vraagt om instandhouding door nieuw gebruik? Met klimaatverandering en de druk op onze infrastructuur, die vragen om ingrepen met oog voor ons cultuurlandschap en erfgoed? En hoe maken we erfgoed werkelijk inclusief? Vraagstukken die in heel Europa spelen en waarbij het belangrijk is gebruik te maken van internationale kennis en ervaring. Maandelijks richtte het Nederlandse programma daarom de schijnwerper op een specifiek erfgoedthema, waarin de Europese dimensie en de actuele vraagstukken centraal stonden.

    Veel erfgoedorganisaties maakten dit jaar een eerste verkennings- en ontdekkingstocht richting Europa. Als belangrijkste oogst legde het Europees Erfgoedjaar de basis voor nieuwe en vernieuwde netwerken en hechtere samenwerking tussen partners, zowel nationaal als internationaal. Het is kansrijk, uitdagend en belangrijk om aan die ontwikkelingen een vervolg te geven. In een steeds meer internationaal georiënteerde, diverse, gedigitaliseerde wereld is erfgoed immers een blijvend anker.

    Dowload de publicatie hier

     

    Organization: 
    Kunsten '92
    Abdelkader Benali
    Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands
  • 'Culturele activiteiten worden nog wel eens als disruptief gezien'

    Egyptisch theatermaker Beshoy Adel (29)

    'Culturele activiteiten worden nog wel eens als disruptief gezien'

    11 December 2018
    Beshoy Adel: cultuurmaker tegen de Egyptische stroom in. Over de impact van internationale samenwerking, persoonlijke drijfveren en de realiteit van Egypte.
    Door Wladimir Riphagen

    Beshoy Adel (29) richt vlak na de revolutie in Egypte in 2011 een cultureel centrum op in zijn geboortestad Minya. “In Minya ben ik iemand. Iedereen kent me. Mijn vrienden vragen me waarom ik niet in Londen, Parijs of Amsterdam blijf. Daar is het leven toch veel beter. Maar als ik daar zou leven, zou niemand me kennen. Dan heb ik geen impact.” Beshoy wil een bijdrage leveren aan de kunst- en cultuursector in zijn land, en vooral in zijn stad – het is zijn raison d’être.

    Internationale samenwerking
    Om de impact te maximaliseren, reist hij regelmatig naar andere landen. Zo fungeert hij ook als ambassadeur voor de cultuursector in zijn stad. Internationale samenwerking start voor Beshoy in Amman, Jordanië. Hij heeft zich aangemeld voor Tandem Shaml, een programma waarbij een cultuurmaker uit het Midden-Oosten en een cultuurmaker uit Europa een jaar lang samenwerken. Beshoy gaat samenwerken met Tom Finlay, een theaterregisseur uit Noord-Ierland die hij in Amman voor de eerste keer ontmoet.

    Pullen bier
    Voor het programma reist Beshoy meerdere keer naar Belfast, waar hij Tom en zijn vrienden beter leert kennen. “Elke avond moesten we aan het bier. Grote tafels, met z’n allen aan een pul.” Hij spreekt er met een glimlach over. “Noord-Ierland lijkt op Egypte.” De gastvrijheid en het samenzijn doen hem denken aan thuis. Tom komt meerdere keren naar Beshoy’s stad Minya, een stad aan de Nijl met ‘slechts’ zes miljoen inwoners. Op de eerste dag zet hij Tom in een tuktuk om van de ene kant van de stad naar de andere te komen. Hij laat een schaterlach horen. “Binnen een dag wist iedereen in Minya dat er een buitenlander op bezoek was.”

    Vraagtekens uit de omgeving
    Beshoy is nog niet zo lang getrouwd als hij aan het Tandem avontuur begint. Het reizen en de drukte heeft een serieuze impact op zijn relatie. Hij is nauwelijks thuis, en in de buurt worden er vraagtekens gezet bij waar hij nou eigenlijk allemaal mee bezig is. Hoe enerverend het internationale samenwerken ook is voor Beshoy, de realiteit in Egypte zet hem zo nu en dan weer op de plaats.

    Balanceren
    Ook om door te kunnen blijven werken als cultuurmaker, moet hij blijven balanceren. Culturele activiteiten worden nog wel eens als disruptief gezien. Het is dan ook belangrijk dat Beshoy investeert in een goede relatie met de autoriteiten. Zolang hij de verantwoordelijke generaal op de hoogte houdt van zijn activiteiten gaat het goed. Dat betekent wel dat elke activiteit aangemeld moet worden, tot een welkomstfeestje thuis voor zijn buitenlandse gast aan toe. Hij lijkt er niet erg mee te zitten. Natuurlijk is het soms ingewikkeld, maar op deze manier kan hij doorgaan met zijn passie.

    Eerste stappen op het toneel
    Niet iedereen binnen zijn familie steunt zijn activiteiten, maar zijn vader helpt hem goed op weg. De vader van Beshoy werkt bij de Jesuits & Brothers Association for Development – de ontwikkelingsorganisatie van de jezuïtenorde in Minya. Die organisatie investeert veel in kunst en cultuur als middel voor ontwikkeling. Ze richten zich met name op kinderen. Het is binnen deze organisatie dat Beshoy zijn eerste stappen op het toneel heeft gezet.

    Spraakgebrek en bang
    Als kind heeft Beshoy een spraakgebrek en is hij bang ingesteld. “Ze zagen me als een niet normaal persoon. Ik zat niet op hetzelfde niveau als mijn leeftijdsgenoten.” Op het toneel kon hij zonder problemen praten en gleden de angsten van hem af. Het vormt een sterke persoonlijke motivatie om, ondanks de tegenwind, zich in te zetten voor theater. Het blijkt sterk uit zijn verhalen. Hij wil anderen laten voelen wat hij twintig jaar geleden voelde.

    Samenbrengen
    Dat gaat niet vanzelf. Met de persoonlijke motivatie komt ook de persoonlijke visie. Dat wil mensen nog wel eens tegen de borst stuiten. Hij werkt nu met vijf theatergroepen in de provincie Minya. Deze theatergroepen zijn losjes georganiseerd, maar hebben alle vijf een eigen regisseur en spelers. Het blijkt moeilijk te zijn om iedereen op dezelfde lijn te krijgen. De ene groep ziet het niet zitten om met hulp van een toneelschrijver die Beshoy heeft uitgekozen de scripts te bewerken, de andere groep wil het liefst direct in de hoofdstad optreden in plaats van de provincie Minya. Om deze verschillen van mening te overbruggen beslist Beshoy om alle groepen bij elkaar te zetten en een week met elkaar door te brengen. Zo gaat hij het idee uit de weg dat hij alleen beslist. Het bij elkaar brengen, balanceren en consensus vinden: dat is zijn sterkste punt. De theaterscene in de provincie zal er de komende tijd profijt van hebben.

     

  • The Netherlands: Europe’s playground

    Johan Huizinga (1872-1945) en Desiderius Erasmus (circa 1467-1536)

    The Netherlands: Europe’s playground

    4 December 2018
    Playfulness is a recurring theme in the Dutch culture. There seems to be a particular gamesome gene in our culture, starting all the way back with Erasmus.
    By Hans Luyckx

    Our creative industry is known all over the world. Its export products are generally lauded as light-hearted and humorous; there seems to be something distinctively playful about the Dutch. Hans Luyckx – operational director at IJsfontein – playful learning and speaker at DutchCulture’s conference on International Culture for Kids – delves into the roots of this phenomenon.

    The Netherlands at the forefront 
    A sector still somewhat underrated as an important element of Dutch culture is the gaming industry. Internationally, the Dutch are taking the lead in the development of so-called ‘serious games’: digital games designed to acquire skills or knowledge in particular specialized areas. This might not be that surprising at all. It stems from a culture that greatly values playfulness.

    Learn while playing
    Desiderius Erasmus (1467-1536) was a priest, theologian, philosopher, writer and humanist. In his philosophy, the individual human being takes centre stage, rather than the clerical or stately authorities. In his works he reflected upon almost all facets of life. In his seminal book ‘In Praise of Folly’ (Lof der Zotheid) he takes aim at the established forces of his age. Among other things, he expressed sharp criticism at the Catholic church and his ideas were conducive to - if not a direct inspiration for - the later 16th century process of reformation that transformed the Dutch into a nation of protestants.

    A broad minded schooling 
    Erasmus also wrote a considerable body of work in the field of pedagogy. In one of his publications on the obligation of swift and broad-minded education for children he posits that ‘people are not born but shaped.’ Children do not grow into ‘useful components of society’ all by themselves. They have to be tutored and educated. Erasmus thinks that kids should be treated honestly and with respect. In his opinion, encouragement will always be more effective than punishment.

    Disciplinarian regimes  
    This way, says Erasmus, children will develop faster and morally they will discover their rights from wrongs. They learn most when there is a certain intrinsic motivation. Skilled teachers should focus on conveying their lessons in such a way ‘that the children won’t be under the impression that they are actually working, but rather believe that it’s all about games.’ The ideas of Desiderius Erasmus were diametrically opposed to the pedagogical methods of the time. In medieval times, corporal punishment and strict disciplinarian regimes were considered the norm. Yet by now, Erasmus’ principles of encouragement, low stress and playful learning are reasonably well accepted in large parts of the world.

    Homo Ludens 
    Another key figure when it comes to the history of Dutch playfulness was Johan Huizinga. A historian, anthropologist and cultural theorist (1872-1945), he elaborates his theories on the ‘spelende mens’ and the playful nature of human kind in his book Homo Ludens. There is a natural impulse to think, create and play. But principally according to Huizinga, all human beings interested in games and playing. Everybody likes to play. In Huizinga’s definition, playing can be any voluntary activity that takes place under set conditions and results in excitement and joy.  To be able to play, people need a space where they feel secure and embedded. It could be any kind of space, whether it be an arena or a podium, a pool table or a temple.

    Necessary games  
    And this human drive for playing turned out to be a societal blessing. Through play, communities can invent themselves and will keep on developing. In Homo Ludens, Huizinga convincingly demonstrates that the playful and the ludic are necessary to construct a society. Taking his readers on a journey through world history, he shows that essential elements of our contemporary culture – such as the rule of law, the arts and sports – can be clearly traced all the way back to a playful impulse. His theories and publications received many plaudits, also outside of the Netherlands. They even resulted in several nominations for the Nobel prize in literature.

    A festival of failures
    So how can we notice the impact of these two influential thinkers today? Playful learning entails that the player will learn in a relaxed and dynamic way. He or she should be confronted with new challenges continuously, making mistakes along the way. In fact, gaming should be all about mistakes and learning from them. This is what will make a game exciting, challenging and in the end it will stimulate skills and result in victories. And does not just motivate children. Adults that play more, will keep on learning. As Huizinga pointed out: everybody wants to play.

    The Dutch playground  
    The crux of learning by play – the unencumbered experimentation and the freedom to flop – is apparent in our entire culture. It shows in Dutch parents who are generally very relaxed when it comes to interacting with their kids. The children can express their opinions and address their parents with ‘jij’ rather than ‘u’. Sometimes they will even call them by their first names. Playfulness is equally reflected in Dutch schools and in commercial life. In our country, we like to perceive each other as equals, everybody is allowed to express their opinion and weigh in, and there is room for us to make mistakes. All of these things combined turn the Netherlands into the veritable playground of Europe and – whisper it – possibly even the whole world.

    Serious games – a serious game 
    Considering this, the fact that many new forms of education are currently eagerly experimented with should not surprise us at all. These forms will fit this century a lot better and will allow the potential of technological progress to be realized. Our creative industry will play a crucial role in this development. Just look at all the games that we are producing at the moment. ‘Serious games’ – games that are designed to learn skills and competences – make up a vast share of the bulk. Of the 330 Dutch game industry companies, 57% is focusing on the development of ‘serious games’, and 44% is working on them exclusively. These percentages are significantly higher than in other countries. The Netherlands will continue to be an international pioneer in the development of serious games and game based learning. The legacy of the writings on playful learning left to us by Huizinga and Erasmus can hardly be underestimated.

    This is part II in a series on Culture for Kids. The occasion of the Conference International Culture for Kids was a joint initiative by DutchCulture, the NAPK, Het Letterenfonds, De Nederlandse Museumvereniging and Cinekid. Read part 1, Het kindvriendelijke kinderportret, by art historian Rudi Ekkart (written in Dutch).

     

  • "Poland is by no means a homogeneous, monolithic cultural block"

    Alicja Gescinska

    "Poland is by no means a homogeneous, monolithic cultural block"

    4 December 2018
    A look at the wealth of Central European culture: an interview with the Flemish/Polish writer and philosopher Alicja Gescinska.
    By Meike Huber

    ‘Out of your comfort zone': that’s the angle of the DutchCulture Europe Day, 11 December next. International cooperation often follows the familiar paths, and often with countries where we already know the way. That’s rather a shame, however, since Europe has so much more to offer. Take the fabulously rich countries – from an art and cultural point of view – of the Visegrád group: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. Writer and philosopher Alicja Gescinska fled the oppressive political situation in Poland as a child with her parents. Now she lives and works in Belgium. She knows this wealth better than most.

    As we all know, much beauty comes from misery. What has Polish history, from which you fled as a child, brought in terms of art and art movements?
    Polish history is perhaps the perfect illustration of the adage you just cited: the tragic often is a fertile ground for the beautiful. Throughout the centuries, Poland as a country and nation has had its share of tragic fate, and its right to exist has often been undermined. It is precisely because of this that, in Poland, the love of language and beauty and the attempt to give meaning to life through art has developed so strongly over the centuries. It is no coincidence that Poland brought forth so many great composers and musicians: Chopin, Szymanowski, Paderewski, Penderecki, and so on. Or that several Poles have won the Nobel Prize for literature; and that there are some great writers who have not won this prize and yet belong to the cream of world literature: Bruno Schulz, Witold Gombrowicz, and also Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz. Every true literature lover will cherish this writer.

    What can we, the Flemings/Dutch, learn from this?
    Above all, we should discard our prejudices about Poland. Here, Poland is mainly associated with manual labourers and cleaning women, as if Poles are all working class people. I have heard such comments so often, either as a joke or not, and it’s very annoying. When people think of Poland, I wish they would not first think of their cleaning lady or handyman but of those great artistic souls who helped shape the beating heart of European civilisation. I think it’s also time to do away with the stereotypical image of the Polak katolik; an image held not only by foreigners but also by many Poles themselves. Poland is by no means a homogeneous, monolithic cultural bloc; not every Pole is a conservative Catholic and a nationalist. On the contrary, Poland is a rich patchwork of different backgrounds, and all the great things that Poland has produced are the result of that diversity.

    What is typical about Central European art?
    That is a very difficult question, because what is 'Central European art'? It’s such a broad notion... I doubt whether you can make any generalising statements about it. But if you insist, then I would say that there is something of a sincere, profound inspiration that haunts 'Central European art': the conviction that by creating the beautiful, you achieve more than just an artistic goal. That art serves a higher social, moral and even spiritual or religious purpose. I think that l’art pour l’art as a creative principle is a fairly typical Western invention. Art is rarely a goal in itself in Central European cultural history. Perhaps because Central Europe has experienced so much oppression, art almost always served a higher, liberating purpose.

    It is quite natural for Dutch artists to work with countries such as Belgium, Germany, France and Great Britain. Cooperation with Central Europe is less common and therefore less easy. Why is that, do you think? You might suppose that artists (in the broad sense of the word) would be attracted to the challenge. Isn’t that part of what being an artist is all about? So how can we overcome this discomfort?
    Is that the case? I’m not sure. But if it is true that there is less cooperation or that this cooperation is more difficult, then I don’t think we should treat it as a historical fact. On the contrary, if you look at European cultural history, then the crosspollination between Western, Central and Eastern Europe has often been very intense and fruitful. The Reformation and the Enlightenment ideals of freedom and tolerance have their early roots in the first tolerance manifestos of Hungary and Poland. The ‘grand tours’ of the privileged young men stimulated the intellectual exchange that made scientific progress possible; just think of Mikołaj Kopernik, better known as Copernicus. This intellectual and creative interaction was hampered in the previous century by the Iron Curtain, and I think Milan Kundera was right when he said that this is the true tragedy of Europe: not so much the physical boundary that divided the continent into two parts, but the fence erected between the spirits of Europe.

    What would we gain from overcoming that?
    It would broaden our horizons. Our view of the world is often too Western, and furthermore too coloured by an Anglo-Saxon perspective. In that respect I agree with George Steiner, that the greatest threat to European identity in recent decades may well be the 'Americanisation' of our culture. This affects all aspects of our lives. It is in the shops we visit, the language we speak, the products we buy, the music we listen to, the books we read, and so on and so forth. Europe is suffering a certain intellectual anaemia because of Anglo-Saxon dominance. Walk into any faculty of philosophy and ask students and professors to name ten contemporary English-speaking thinkers, and you will receive your answer within ten seconds. Ask them about any contemporary Russian or Polish philosopher, and you’ll be met by silence. That’s how it is with philosophy, and with literature and music. While there is so much beauty and wisdom in other cultures and languages.

    How are current developments in Central European countries influencing art and culture? I am referring to a number of different things: the growing populism, in combination with protectionist nationalism.
    Poland is now a very divided country. There is an intense mutual antipathy between supporters of the conservative, nationalist PiS government and its critics. This dislike is rooted in very different visions regarding ethics and culture. This makes the struggle so intense, and is also stimulating political awareness among the population and among artists. I wouldn't necessarily say that this is making art more political, but artists are more aware that their voices carry significant political and societal weight. Artists and thinkers are the ones keeping a finger on the pulse of society.

    Who is your favourite Polish artist (in the broadest sense of the word) and why?
    That is an impossible question. Polish culture is exceptionally rich. In literature, I am probably most fond of Czesław Miłosz. Both his essays and poems are food for the mind and balm for the soul. He is one of the few remaining intellectual beacons of light. In painting, Zdzisław Beksiński stands out from the crowd. I love many of his works, especially an untitled work from the late 1970s. In this painting you see skeletons sitting in small groups on high boulders around a fire. On some rocks there are no skeletons, and the fire is extinguished. Everyone can see everyone else sitting around, but no one can move toward each other. Everyone is in their own group, on their own island. Lonely, and isolated. And they all know: one day our fire will extinguish too. I think it's a beautiful but very sad metaphor for human existence. Beksiński had a very own style, which was referred to as fantastic surrealism. His paintings and drawings are so lugubrious and macabre and at the same time so profoundly human and endearing. So repulsive and yet so comforting. But if I had to choose one artist, then both Miłosz and Beksiński would have to lose out to Chopin. Not a week goes by without me listening to Chopin for several hours. The comforting tristesse in his nocturnes always helps make life a little more bearable.

    Alicja Gescinska