Renske Ebbers
Advisor - Germany | Belgium
r.ebbers [at] dutchculture.nl

Good Practice: the Bittersweet year of Eefje de Visser

Good Practice: the Bittersweet year of Eefje de Visser

In the spotlight: Eefje de Visser’s concert film 'Bitterzoet' as an example of good practices during the pandemic.
By Lotte Bosch

Last month DutchCulture published Turn and Face the Strange, an overview of outstanding international cultural exchange practices that took place in 2020. The overview contains examples of good practices in the 23 focus countries of the International Cultural Policy framework 2021-2024, capturing the state of play at the various embassies and consulates. Today we spotlight Dutch singer-and-songwriter Eefje de Visser, whose successful project was mentioned in Turn and Face the Strange.

Open call de Wachtruimte

In May 2020 the Dutch Embassy in Brussels launched the open call de Wachtruimte (the Waiting Space) to challenge artists to come up with creative responses to the lockdown and find new ways to showcase their work. The idea was to turn the negative association of ‘waiting’ into something positive and inspiring. Besides dozens of podcast series, online art sales, live-streamed (museum) tours, there came up with one excellent production: a concert film by Eefje de Visser.

A bittersweet experience

Dutch singer-and-songwriter Eefje de Visser released her fourth album Bitterzoet (Bittersweet) in January 2020. The album was well-received by critics and her fans, because of the combination of familiar dreamy, melancholic sounds and the innovative use of electronics. De Visser was planning on doing an intimate club tour around the Netherlands and Belgium. When the pandemic started, the tour was cancelled and De Visser had to think of alternative ways to promote her new album. De Visser and her band decided to record their well-prepared show, which resulted in a consistent cinematic, musical and choreographic experience of high quality. The concert was recorded at her home studio called Robot Studios in Ghent. On the 3rd of July, the film premiered online and at the same time in several cinemas in Belgian and Dutch cities. It became an instant success and De Visser highly credited her Belgian-Dutch band, cast and crew for the great cooperation and production. Bitterzoet the album and the concert film are both nominated for the Edison Pop Prize, the most prestigious and oldest music award of the Netherlands. The film is still available to watch on Vimeo and on Saturday, February 20 at 23:35 the entire show will be broadcasted on Dutch television.

Once in a lifetime chance

In the end, the very frustrating circumstances of the lockdown turned out inspirational and fruitful for De Visser. Although the reopening of live venues is not yet in sight, De Visser was given a new exceptional opportunity. Together with the Dutch breakdance talent Redouan Ait Chitt, better known as Redo, De Visser will perform during the second finale of the Eurovision Song Contest on May 22. On her Instagram, De Visser said she’s honoured and dedicated to making a magical opening show, which might mean De Visser’s musical international breakthrough. Anyway, De Visser has proven that she is capable to 'turn and face the strange’ and come up with creative and good practices under challenging artistic circumstances.

Read about other good practices of international cultural exchange.

Check out the complete overview of Dutch cultural activities in Belgium in our database. If you are a cultural professional who wants to go to Belgium, feel free to contact our Belgium advisor Renske Ebbers. For funding possibilities, check out our Cultural Mobility Funding Guide or the websites of our partners Mondriaan Fund, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Performing Arts Fund and the Dutch Embassy in Brussels.