• DutchCulture Database 2018: trends in Dutch international cultural activities

    DutchCulture Database 2018: trends in Dutch international cultural activities

    20 mei 2019
    In 2018 Dutch artists participated more than 15,000 cultural activities in 108 different countries. DutchCulture identifies important trends.
    By Erin Chang


    Each year, DutchCulture tracks the international events that Dutch artists and cultural organisations produce and take part in abroad. This helps to give a sense of the cultural impact that the Netherlands has in other countries. Ahead of the European Elections, this data also helps to identify trends in cultural cooperation between the Netherlands and the EU. As of this year, the database is accessible via the search function on the DutchCulture website. In the coming weeks, we will also publish articles on 2018 activities in each of the priority countries in the Netherlands’ international cultural policy plan.

    Interesting changes

    Dutch cultural activities continue to be strongly international; in 2018, we tracked 15,181 cultural activities across 108 different countries. Although this number remains roughly the same as in 2017 (up slightly from 15,020), Dutch cultural activities have seen a number of interesting changes in the spread of these activities across different countries, disciplines and venues.

    The top destination countries remain relatively stable, with Germany and the United States remaining as top destinations for Dutch artists, accounting for 21% and 15% percent of all international events respectively. While cultural capitals, such as New York (470 events), Berlin (355 events), and London (334 events) are important hot spots, Dutch cultural events are widely dispersed. Events took place in 2584 different cities, with 88% of events taking place outside capital cities. This is a slight increase from 2017, with events in 2319 cities, and 87% took place outside capital cities.

    2018 International Cultural Activities Heat Map
    Strong EU ties

    The EU continues to play a crucial role in the Netherlands’ international cultural activities. In 2018, 54% of all Dutch international cultural events took place in the EU, and five of the top ten most visited countries for Dutch artists were in the EU. While strongest in nearby countries (Germany, Belgium, UK, France, Italy), events were spread across Europe with Dutch artists working in 1538 cities across every single EU country.

    Top 50 Country Destinations

    Dutch international cultural events encompass a myriad of disciplines and event types, ranging from museum expositions and theatre performances to design fairs and book translations. Music continues to be the dominant Dutch cultural activity in the DutchCulture database, accounting for 45% of all tracked events. This is followed by audiovisual media (15%) and performing arts (14%).

    Percentage of events by discipline
    Widespread cultural cooperation

    The 2018 data and trends highlight the impact of the Netherlands’ investment in international programmes that seek to expand the reach of Dutch arts abroad. The breadth of international cultural cooperation is a fundamental strength of the Dutch cultural sector. This cooperation is not only taking place in major cities in western countries but also in smaller towns all over the six continents. It is not only a select few going abroad but a wide range of both emerging and established Dutch artists and organisations from all over the Netherlands. This presence across the globe reinforces the Dutch cultural sector at home, stimulates international cooperation, and drives innovation.

  • Dutch cultural actors thrive in an open and connected Europe

    The European Parliament elections, May 23-26th, will have a big impact on cultural policies proposed by the Commission. Photo: Steve de Jongh.

    Dutch cultural actors thrive in an open and connected Europe

    17 mei 2019
    Culture is not a hotly debated policy issue in the run-up to the European Parliament elections. What role does the EU play for Dutch creatives?
    By Simon de Leeuw


    The recent informal European Council summit in Sibiu, Romania, marked a moment of convergence among the European heads of government ahead of the European Parliament Elections. It resulted in a joint declaration evoking a spirit of unity “through thick and thin,” and a Strategic Agenda for 2019-2024, with a strong emphasis on environmental and security concerns. A single mention is reserved for culture, as under the header “safeguarding our way of life” the short mantra “invest in culture” is stipulated. While this is great news, what else is there to know about culture ahead of the European Parliament Elections?

    Collecting data on all international activities from and to the Netherlands with the new version of Buitengaats, we can look at some of the main trends in terms of cultural exchange between the Netherlands and its European fellow member states. DutchCulture is uniquely positioned to share figures that can highlight the significance of cultural collaborations within the European Union. 

    Top 50 Country destinations. In bold: EU member states



    Number of events




    Number of events









    United States














    United Kingdom














































    New Zealand



    South Korea




    South Africa



























































    Czech Republic




    Costa Rica





















    Bosnia and Herzegovina

















    The EU continues to play a big role in the Netherlands’ international cultural activities. Firstly, of course, as the playground and domain for cultural activities. In 2018, 54% of all Dutch international cultural events took place in the EU, and five of the top ten most visited countries for Dutch artists were in the EU. While represented most strongly in nearby countries (Germany, Belgium, UK, France, Italy), events were spread across Europe with Dutch artists working in 1538 cities across every single EU country.

    Dutch cultural professionals flourish thanks to the ability to travel freely and quickly across the Schengen zone. Even though the consequences of Brexit are still unpredictable, it is not difficult to imagine that further barriers to the free movement of goods, persons or services will reduce the likelihood of UK-bound tours, collection loans, exhibitions or performances. In terms of international exchange, It is in the interest of the cultural field of the Netherlands to minimize these impediments to mobility, also for those artists who are not EU nationals.

    DutchCulture’s Mobility Info Point’s many incoming questions have flagged such obstacles more than once. Artists and creatives are still often blocked due to the lack of legal status, visa problems and the slow pace of administrative processes. We are convinced that increased mobility for artists is key in developing skills, intercultural awareness, co-creation and the participation to international events and express our support to European efforts to increase access to an open cultural ecosystem, such as special Schengen visa for artists. 

    54% of all registered Dutch activities is EU-bound

    Apart from highlighting the ‘open doors’, the 2018 data and trends can also help to inform us about potential room for improvement at the level of European funding programmes.

    To illustrate, the Buitengaats discipline breakdown is mirrored within the EU. This means that while certain sectors work very well without any form of stimulation, other sectors can benefit from support to help stimulate growth in Netherlands-EU activities. For example, in the music sector, which accounts for 48% of events in the EU, only 9% of international activities are subsidized. Contrastingly, although the field of literature makes up only 7% EU activities, 74% of international activities in the field of literature are subsidized. Some sectors may need more support than others.  

    Our experience is that Dutch artists and makers do increasingly know how to call upon European resources and funding programmes in a variety of disciplines. In 2018, the AV sector received close to 6 million euros from the Creative Europe: MEDIA programme, for example, establishing the Netherlands as one of the top benefactors within the EU. In a similar vein, the call for collaborations in the theme of the European Year for Cultural Heritage resulted in six Dutch grantees; this meant a 100% success rate in applications. DutchCulture’s Creative Europe: Culture Desk NL assisted all of the eventual grantees throughout the submission procedure. Making the subsidy programmes more accessible and available to the wider field is a recommendation that DutchCulture subscribes to in a recent letter written to Minister of Culture Ingrid van Engelshoven by a coalition of cultural organizations - the Europaplatform - spearheaded by Kunsten ‘92. 

    Whether the Commission's proposals will be adopted depends on the party you vote for.
    Talking points

    In sum, Dutch cultural actors are oriented towards and dependent on Europe. The Netherlands stands to gain from further connectivity by sharing knowledge, finding new partnerships and increasing its own outreach. We advocate for a stronger recognition of the role of culture at the European policy level and are reinforced in our belief by the many partner organizations in the Europaplatform subscribing to the same message. 

    One of the reasons to speak out on this issue is the fact that culture seems largely absent from the debates surrounding these elections. Yet, there is a lot to think about and a lot that matters. First of all, the Commission’s proposal to increase the total budget available for Creative Europe 2021-2027 from €1.46  billion to €1.85 needs to be approved by the European Parliament and the member states. Another question is, for example, the extra need for a European regulation to safeguard the freedom of artistic expression in times of state censorship. 

    Whether these proposals – and any other coming from the Commission - will be realised, depends on the approval of the European Parliament and the party you vote for.

    To learn more about the position of the participating European families on the role of culture ahead of the Elections, Culture Action Europe explored their manifestos. They also made a downloadable graphic toolkit for the election campaign .

    Read the letter proposed to Minister van Engelshoven by Kunsten ‘92 (Dutch).  

    The Culture Action EP Elections 2019 Toolkit and guidelines are developed to provide CAE members and partners with the necessary elements to support the EU-wide campaign.
    Kunsten '92
    Creative Europe Desk NL
  • Travel report: Udine's Far East Film Festival - opening worlds, breaking routines

    Far East Film Festival 21 official image, Floating Free. Copyright: Roberto Rosolin

    Travel report: Udine's Far East Film Festival - opening worlds, breaking routines

    9 mei 2019
    An interview with Sabrina Baracetti and Thomas Bertacchi of the Far East Film festival in Udine, Italy, on the international outreach of a regional festival.
    By Simon de Leeuw


    The charming city of Udine, cosied up between the Julian Alps and the Dolomites in the northeastern corner of Italy, set the stage for what has grown into a household name for Asian film lovers in Europe. This year’s edition, the 21st Far East Film Festival Udine, opened with the South Korean film Birthday, was introduced by awarding the Golden Mulberry oeuvre prize to lead actress Jeon Do-Yeon. She enjoyed a delighted and tearful reception at the emotional opening film. In sum, the festival presented a line-up of 76 films from 12 countries from April 26th to May 4th. We spoke to the founding partners of the film festival about its history, its success and its link to the Creative Europe MEDIA programme.

    A growing niche

    “At the end of the last century, films from Hong Kong started to become very popular in Europe,” says Thomas Bertacchi, coordinator of the festival, about its beginning. “If you remember, Chungking Express was released in 1996 and was probably one of the most internationally successful Hong Kong films. There was definitely a niche in the Italian audience that was interested in that kind of film – action, gangster, melodramas. In Italy we have a long history of martial art films, too; a lot of people were in love with this kind of films. At the time, we ran two arthouse cinemas in town and we programmed those with arthouse as well as popular cinema. Because of that mix, I think many people got used to come and watch films that would surprise them. Together with this niche, we discovered the renaissance of the Korean films, because that started at the beginning of the 2000s. And from there, we built the audience year by year.”

    Needless to say that since the early days of the festival it has had an international outreach, and all films are subtitled both in Italian and in English. Audience-wise, the festival hosts cinema lovers from all over the world. For one week in the year, the people of Udine move along with the high-paced programming at the Teatro Novo, the main location for the viewings. The soft and drizzly spring weather, the laid-back atmosphere and constant programming of quality films make a great match.

    Small town aiming big

    Upon being asked whether the size of the hosting city provides a challenge or an opportunity, Bertacchi explains: “In small cities like Udine, people tend to be more curious. They don’t have many chances to meet foreigners. They seem to be more interested in them because they are not that exposed. In Rome, there is a stronger notion of being the centre of the world. Such attitudes make me scared. In this festival, we hope to show different cultures from different countries. At the same time, it can help the population of this region to change their minds and their opinions. The political situation right now is quite scary, everybody seems to be closing their minds.”  

    Sabrina Baracetti, artistic director of FEFF, adds: “We do hope to help somehow. But it’s something that comes naturally with the festival, not because we aim to do so explicitly. We reach it by going on. If we organize the festival as well as we can, we realized that it has this effect. Showing different cultures from abroad will help people being more open to strangers.”

    The Japanese film "Melancholic" (Merankorikku) premiered at the festival and won the White Mulberry Award for best debut film. Staff member of FEFF, actor Makoto Hada, artistic director FEFF Sabrina Baracetti, director Seiji Tanaka, FEFF coordinator Thomas Bertacchi.
    Ties that bind programme

    As the festival grew in its outreach, Sabrina and Thomas made room for additional activities that can create a lasting impact. “At a certain point, we decided to create more events related to the industry,” says Bertacchi. “We decided to work with a regional film fund and attract producers from both Asia and Europe to give them the opportunity to meet with each other and develop projects for the future. We not only show films but also focus on the industry and the producers trying to make future projects. Because of the collaboration with the regional film fund, we founded Ties that Bind.

    Ties that Bind is a training programme supported by Creative Europe MEDIA. The MEDIA sub-programme supports film, television, new media and video games, offering funding, training and networking opportunities. It connects funds to makers and helps to kickstart international productions. This year, the Malaysian thriller Motif was the first project to have been developed from Ties that Bind and enjoyed its world premiere in Udine on the 27th of April. Thomas explains the reasoning behind setting up this capacity-building plan: “Nowadays festivals can’t be just about screening films, because almost all the films we screen are available online via torrents or streams. Then the question emerges: what’s the added value of a festival? Of course, one of the most important aspects of cinema and festivals is to put people together and to make them meet. But then comes the industry, where making connections means making co-productions, working and creating together.”

    Still from "Jam", by Japanese director Sabu. Copyright: FEFF

    The festival also offers a wider range of off-screen experiences. Baracetti: “We organize events in town in order to get the city more involved in the festival, such as markets, cosplay contests, sake tastings, a lot to do with food.” While visitors get exposed to flavours and customs from the Far East, the local economy can benefit from international exposure during the event. Wine- and cheese makers are strongly represented in the foyer of the Teatro, proudly demonstrating what the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia has to offer gastronomically. The festival, in this way, becomes an increasingly big opportunity for mutual exchanges that go beyond the strictly cinematic. Among the other events in the side-programming was, for example, a historical exploration of the noodle and how it made its way from China to Italy along the Silk Road.

    Avoiding routine

    But perhaps what’s most striking is the lack of red-carpeted tension that can hang over film festivals in Europe. The Japanese director Sabu, who came to introduce his Guy Ritchie-esque film Jam (editor's pick as favourite film) lights a cigarette outside the theatre and is completely approachable. He brought his family, too. The cast of the films, moments ago spotlighted in the modern theatre-turned-cinema, can be seen ordering a coffee and a focaccia one block away at the same place the foot folk and film nerds frequent. All of this makes for a pleasant and somewhat informal vibe. It also reflected on stage, where each film is briefly preluded by artistic director Sabrina herself.

    “Usually, the president, or artistic director, does not introduce the films but stays somewhere on the first row. Sabrina is president and artistic director and she is up there all the time," illustrates Bertacchi with a small grin. "We try to avoid being formal. Don’t get me wrong: we are doing things in a very serious way and we try to be more planned. But we also try to be a bit informal, also due to the staff of young people changing every year. It’s a mix between the two of us," as he throws a quick glance over to Sabrina, "who are growing older, and people from 25-28 in their internships. So we can learn from each other. We learn a different way to watch things every time. The worst thing you can do is routine. You've got to try to approach things differently. And the whole thing with the neck-ties, the professionalism: avoiding it where we can really makes me proud.”

    Want to know more about Creative Europe: MEDIA training programmes? Look no further

    Read more about projects recently supported by the Creative Europe programme.

    Far East Film Festival Udine
  • Vacature Campaigner/Online Marketeer

    Vacature Campaigner/Online Marketeer

    6 mei 2019
    DutchCulture is per 1 augustus 2019 op zoek naar een Campaigner/Online Marketeer - 0,8 fte

    Wij zoeken voor deze functie een strategische en bevlogen collega die ervaren is met het voeren van campagnes en online marketing. Je bent inhoudelijk betrokken en kan de programmering goed vertalen naar doelgroepgerichte, effectieve communicatie. Je beheert onze social media en schakelt probleemloos tussen contentmarketing en het schrijven van bredere strategische plannen. Daarbij wordt er veel waarde gehecht aan het bijhouden van de verscheidene statistieken zodat de communicatiestrategie en inzet van budgetten verbeterd kunnen worden. De analyse van de data en bijkomende kennis van de doelgroepen wordt bovendien gebruikt om de programmering van input te voorzien. En effectieve en relevant (inter)nationale campagnes vorm te geven.

    Team Campagne en Productie
    Je komt in het team Campagne en Productie, dit team is verantwoordelijk voor de zichtbaarheid van internationale culturele samenwerking in Nederland en in het buitenland. Daartoe organiseren we buitenlandse bezoeken, programma’s en communicatiecampagnes. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan de 'International Culture for Kids 'campagne. Of bovensectorale programma’s die we in het buitenland ontwikkelen en ondersteunen - zoals een cultureel programma Art & Mental Health, in samenwerking met de Nderlandse partners en Sick Festival in Manchester.

    De campaigner / online marketeer is verantwoordelijk voor
    Uitvoeren van kortlopende campagnes rondom (inter)nationale programma’s, inclusief:

    •     Opstellen campagnestrategie, boodschap en deadlines
    •     Tekstredactie
    •     Afstemmen met interne en externe partners
    •     Inzet en beheer van bescheiden campagne budgetten
    •     Monitoren van resultaten
    •     Uitwerken en uitvoeren van langlopende campagnethema’s naar communicatie en content strategie
    •     Afstemming van campagne en content planning met de hoofdredacteur en het hoofd productie

    Wij verwachten een relevante opleiding op minimaal hbo-niveau, minimaal 3 jaar relevante werkervaring en ervaring in de cultuursector. Je beschikt over goede kennis van kunst & cultuur en hebt een relevant (cultureel/ internationaal) netwerk. Een uitstekende beheersing van de Nederlandse en Engelse taal is een voorwaarde. Verder heb je een goed gevoel voor actuele communicatiestrategieën en instrumenten, denk daarbij aan: ervaring met CRM en monitoring op basis van statistieken (vanuit verschillende bronnen). Kennis van Adobe Suite, het bovensectorale culturele veld en/of ministeriële samenwerkingen zijn een pre.

    Wij bieden
    Een aanstelling voor 0,8 fte (op basis van een 40-urige werkweek), in eerste instantie voor 1 jaar. We bieden ook: muziek op kantoor, een prachtige tuin in een monumentaal pand en collega’s met totaal verschillende culturele achtergronden. Deze functie is ingeschaald op basis van het functiehuis en volgens het salarissysteem van DutchCulture en valt in de schaal ‘programmamedewerker’ (min €2750 – max €3600 bij een 40-urige werkweek).

    Reacties en informatie
    Schriftelijke reacties bestaande uit een motivatiebrief en cv kunnen tot uiterlijk 31 mei 2019 worden gezonden aan: DutchCulture, t.a.v. Ellen Spijkers, e-mail: Voor meer informatie over de functie kunt u contact opnemen met Maarten K. Bul via 020-6164225.

  • How to stretch the limits of artistic freedom without transgressing them: four international cases explained

    Sluier, by Danstheater Aya. Photo: Ben van Duin

    How to stretch the limits of artistic freedom without transgressing them: four international cases explained

    6 mei 2019
    An interpretation of four international cases in which artists had to adapt their work in order to be able to show it, presented at our meetup Artistiek Kompas.
    By Errol Boon


    On Monday April 15, DutchCulture and the Performing Arts Fund NL organised Artistiek Kompas – over je principes als (podium)kunstenaar in het buitenland, a symposium on artistic freedom and censorship. After an inspiring keynote lecture by Consul General in St Petersburg Lionel Veer, ending with Dostoyevsky’s optimistic words that ‘beauty shall save the world’, the visitors were divided into smaller groups to discuss and dissect a specific case concerning the limits of artistic freedom.

    In two rounds, the audience was provided the possibility to attend presentations by Harmen van Twillert (Dries Verhoeven), Miranda Lakerveld (World Opera Lab), Roeland Dekkers (BonteHond) or Manuel Segond von Banchet (Danstheater Aya). Henriëtte Post (director of the Performing Arts Fund NL) concluded the afternoon with the words: ‘You do not have to go beyond the limits in order to stretch the limits’. I visited the cases and wondered how these artists were able to stretch the limits of artistic freedom without transgressing them.  

    Case 1: Dries Verhoeven – Wanna play? in Berlin / Ceci n’est pas…in Helsinki. Presented by Harmen van Twillert)

    Dries Verhoeven is a theatre maker and visual artist who creates installations and performances in the public space, that address social issues and directly involve the spectator. Former marketing manager of Dries Verhoeven, Harmen van Twillert, brought up two performances that were forced to be adapted in Western European countries: Ceci n’est pas... and Wanna Play? The central question in both cases: how do you communicate the values of your work when they are interpreted differently by the audience?

    Ceci n’est pas… contains of a number of tableaux vivants, exposed in a glass box in the public space, that confront passers-by with controversial, discomforting images that are normally not seen in the public spaces. Although the work did not cause any tumult during its premiere at Spring Festival Utrecht, it created a lot of commotion in other European countries. One of the images, called Ceci n’est pas mon corps - portraying a naked, old woman wearing the mask of a young girl, was eventually prohibited by the state of Finland. The team of Dries Verhoeven found itself confronted with a difficult dilemma: either adapt the piece by giving the woman underwear, or not show the piece at all. Verhoeven chose the first option, but added a text to the glass box in which he makes mention of the censorship of the Finnish government. Thus, Verhoeven employed the censorship to provoke a discussion on the paternalism of Finnish state.

    Verhoeven employed the censorship to provoke a discussion on the paternalism of Finnish state

    In Wanna Play? Love in times of Grindr Verhoeven lives in a glass house for ten days in the middle of a public square. From within this glass house, Verhoeven chats with users of the dating apps Grindr and Tinder and ask them to visit him in the glass house to satisfy his non-sexual desires (e.g. playing chess, cooking together, holding hands). Although the meetings in the glass box took place behind a veil, the chat discussions were live projected on the glass house, so that everybody around the square could follow the chats. In the Berlin neighbourhood Kreuzberg, the work caused a lot of outrage, even violently so, with regard to the privacy of the participants. After five days Verhoeven was forced to quit the project. When Verhoeven re-staged the performance in Utrecht, he chose to adapt the piece: the participating dating app users were now asked for consent before the chat was projected on the glass house. The reason for Verhoeven to adapt his work, Van Twillert explains, is that the discussions on privacy overshadowed the topic that Verhoeven actually wanted to address with the work, namely that of the influence of smartphones on intimacy. 

    Interestingly, both cases of Verhoeven result in the same conclusion, in which the artwork ends up – adapted – making an opposite argument to the one initially intended. In Ceci n’est pas mon corps... the modification was employed to raise a new discussion on state paternalism, which was not initially provoked by the original work. Wanna play? on the other hand, was tweaked in order to hold on to the discussion that the original work did initially sought to provoke. So in the first case adaptation was motivated by stimulating new discussions, in the second case by preventing new discussions from happening. Probably this has to do with the close relationship between the initial and the new issue raised by Ceci n’est pas... (i.e. limits of public space and paternalism of the state), which was less close in the case of Wanna play? (i.e. digital intimacy and privacy). The moral of the story seems to be that there isn’t a clear-cut rule or criterion to make these difficult decisions on. Rather, acknowledging the fact that the autonomy of a work of art is always embedded in a socio-cultural context and that the discussions raised by the work are never fully controlled by its maker, implies that every audience requires a different anticipation and every addressed topic a new assessment. 

    Ceci n'est pas..., by Dries Verhoeven
    Case 2: BonteHond - Gezocht konijn (directed by René Geerlings), in coproduction with ATTA Festival Istanbul. Presented by Roeland Dekkers

    With Gezocht: Konijn theatre collective BonteHond created a ‘police detective for pre-schoolers’, in which a naughty rabbit is wanted by the police for disturbing the public order with carrots and droppings. Festival ATTA Istanbul recognised the artistic stratification of the piece and invited BonteHond to remake the piece with Turkish actors. Dikkat: Tavşan Aranıyor became very successful and is currently touring six cities in Turkey. 

    The process of a Turkish remake of Gezocht: Konijn did not only involve a translation of the original text from Dutch to Turkish, but also required other adjustments. Interestingly, most of these adaptations are not made with regard to a censoring state, but rather with regard to a different cultural audience. When, for example, the actors asked Dutch children ‘who is ever caught by the police’, they all roared with laughter. However, for an audience of Turkish children, such a joke would provoke anxiety rather than laughter. When the policeman gives a salute with a flat hand on his head, a Turkish audience would directly link this with militarism, which has a very different meaning in Turkey than in the Netherlands. 

    The adaptions are the answers to the question of which symbols needed to be employed

    Crucial for BonteHond was that ATTA festival recognized the encoded meaning and critical potential of the play: the play is all about rebellion and stimulates the children to reflect on the question: who is more powerful, the police or the rabbit? In this sense, the work can be read as a story about the dialectics of rebellion. The customizations to the work that BonteHond made need to be seen in that perspective: they concern dramaturgical considerations of choosing the right symbols that convey this double meaning and critical potential to an audience with a different cultural background. In the case of BonteHond, the adaptions can be read as the answers to the question of which symbols needed to be employed so that the Turkish audience decodes the same significance as the Dutch audience did. Adaption as dramaturgy. 

    Interestingly, Roeland Dekkers explained that despite some symbols that had to be changed, he was surprised by the universal effect of humour: ‘It is only a matter of finding the right codes and symbols.’ Hence, the practice of remaking a piece in another country has a deeper significance and value than mere prestige. Transferring your work abroad is a two-folded dramaturgic challenge: on the one hand, it is about distinguishing the fundamental meaning at stake from its encoding and, on the other hand, it concerns translating this meaning to another culture without eroding it. 

    Gezocht: Konijn, by BonteHond
    Case 3: Danstheater Aya - Sluier (directed by Wies Bloemen) in Indonesia. Presented by Manuel Segond von Banchet

    Sluier (Veil in English) is a dance performance for a young audience about a young Muslim woman that struggles with negotiating her double cultural background (Dutch-Moroccan). A cast of Dutch-Moroccan actors vulnerably tell their personal stories. With literal citations of the Koran they critically yet respectfully investigate the role of women in the Koran without abandoning Islam. Hence, Sluier is all about the personal quest of making a religion your own.

    The embassy of the Netherlands in Indonesia saw that the questions concerning double cultural identity that Sluier addresses carry relevance in Indonesia too, so they asked Aya to perform the play in Jakarta. However, the embassy was also concerned about accusations of blasphemy the work might have had provoked in the local context. For how do you bring a performance to a young public in a country in which Islamist parties play an increasingly prominent role in society? Furthermore, as opposed to the Dutch context, Indonesia does not have an educational system that pays much attention to theatre visits, a factor that significantly affects the interpretation of the play at the audience level.

    Aya made the translator’s censorship visible and open, without criticizing it, leaving the assessment open to the audience

    Since Sluier is not about blasphemy, but rather about personally and liberally interpreting a religion, Aya decided to collaborate with the embassy and follow their advice to skip the Koran citations and adapt certain scenes about the burgeoning female sexuality. Manuel Segond von Banchet thereby decided to take a modest position within the process and left the artistic decisions to the makers of the piece. Interestingly, when the piece was performed in English and live translated in Indonesian, the audience that knew English could very well recognise the differences between the English text and the expurgated translation of the government. Thus comparable to the case of Dries Verhoeven, Aya made the translator’s censorship visible and open, without criticizing it, leaving the assessment open to the audience.  

    Sluier, by Danstheater Aya
    Case 4: World Opera Lab - Turan Dokht in Iran. Presented by director Miranda Lakerveld)

    Miranda Lakerveld grew up in Lombok in Utrecht, a multicultural working-class neighbourhood. ‘However, when I premiered my first opera, I didn’t find any of my former neighbours at the opera house.’ Her wish for a more diverse and inclusive audience motivated Lakerveld to focus on intercultural, non-western opera’s. In her last production, Turan Dokht (Turan’s Daughter), Lakerveld and composer Aftab Darvishi wanted to bring Puccini’s Turandot ‘back to its Persian native soil’. After a tremendously difficult production process, hindered by both economic problems and increasing diplomatic tensions, the opera had its premiere in Teheran February 2019 with a cast of both Iranian and Dutch artists.  

    The artistic restrictions that Lakerveld faced in Iran involved the fact that women were performing on stage. However, initially, this did not necessarily hamper the aesthetic value of the piece. On the contrary, the limitations often resulted in creative solutions that turned out to be unexpectedly interesting. Not only did the dress codes lead to beautiful costumes, but also the prohibition of women singing solely on stage led to polyphonic arias, in which the solo voice was intricately and innovatively embedded in a small chorus – first submerging into the other voices, then suddenly gloriously prevailing them. Furthermore, the injunction of man and woman touching each other on stage resulted in stunning scenes testifying a physically modest, yet perhaps mentally even stronger intimacy between the two dramatis personae – somehow the absence of physical touch made the scenes even more touching. Indeed, one could argue that (artistic) freedom especially flourishes by virtue of its limitations. 

    Somehow the absence of physical touch made the scenes even more touching

    These restrictions were all artistically legitimate, according to Lakerveld. Even though by the time the censorship committee visited the final rehearsal Turan Dokht was considered de jure correct according to the rules of Iranian government, Lakerveld’s team realised that they couldn’t run the risk of getting rejected and decided to take an extra security measure; they agreed to let the leading actor (Arash Roozbehi) sing along with the leading actress (Sayeh Sodefiye) during the female arias – ‘a decision that hurt’, Lakerveld says. However, after the piece was permitted by the committee, at the start of one of the female aria’s during the premiere, Arash Roozbehi forgot to sing along with Sayeh Sodefiye, Lakerveld tells. Suddenly she was singing alone. 

    This example is not only touching, but also interesting if one would set up the following speculative hypothesis. Like Iranian women sometimes wear their headscarf only partially, excusing themselves by saying that it ’accidentally fell off’, it could perhaps be that the Arash Roozbehi ’forgot’ to sing along in order fulfil the deep wish of his fellow actress to, for once in her lifetime, sing solely on a stage in her motherland. Speculatively, one could hypothesise: he forgot it on her behalf. Seen like this, the forgetfulness of the actor becomes a highly poetic form of resistance, a performative form of beauty that would rarely occur in the West. 

    Interestingly Lakerveld’s case testifies two forms of adaptation: on the one hand artistically productive adjustments, which lead to interesting intercultural collaboration and artistically beautiful solutions, and on the other hand painful ones. Even in the case of the latter, Lakerveld did not find it her prerogative to be recalcitrant, to resist the cultural values of Iran and impose her Western ideas. Although it was painful and constraining, she remained humble. But by stepping aside, she created space for the Iranian actors to resist the adaptation in their own way. 

    Turan Dokht, by World Opera Lab
    Autonomous adaption & anticipating the unexpected

    Despite all their different projects in divergent corners of the world, all four cases testify to a similar sense of urgency to stage a performance that somehow challenges certain limits of a foreign cultural context - be it limits of blasphemy (Aya), privacy and paternalism (Verhoeven), women’s freedom of expression (Lakerveld) or of a different understanding of the state’s institutes (BonteHond). All artists chose to perform their work in an adapted form rather than not performing at all. For when you are full of a passion and urgency of conveying a certain message that has to be told - not also but especially in culturally different contexts – ‘not going’ is hardly an option at all. Interestingly, we see that cultural workers need to artistically legitimise this adaptation in order to stand in an autonomous relation to their adapted artworks. That is; when you do not encounter an adaptation of your work as somehow forced upon you by an external instance, but, on the contrary, find a reason or motivation for the adaptation that resonates your own artistic ambition, the adaptation could be an autonomous, sovereign choice. The decision to adapt your work then appears to be your own decision and the work remains your work. 

    This artistic legitimisation cannot rely on a clear-cut, universally applicable criterion, but must be sought for over and over again. Decisive in all these cases is the fundamental meaning, or the message, that the artists want to convey with their work, to a certain extent distinguished from the encoding of this message. If a different cultural context requires an alternative encoding of this meaning, an adaptation seems to be legitimate to the extent that it serves this meaning. Therefore, the crucial questions become: what is really at stake for me? What do I want to convey? What do I want to do with my work? Hence adaption involves a certain dramaturgical challenge and an artistic task: distinguishing a universal meaning from a cultural-specific encoding and trying to re-code the message to another context. What’s more, other interesting examples show that it can be even helpful to actively employ the censorship of the work, in order to enforce or enrich the very questions or meaning the work wants to provoke.

    Reserving space for criticism means that you anticipate the unexpected

    If we are to consider all the discussed cases as examples of critical artworks, we need to conceive their critical potential as forms of immanent critique, that is: striving for certain values from within the system, rather than imposing ideals from outside a culture. Indeed, in other words: stretching the limits without transgressing them. Operating from within the system implies a more modest or remote attitude, which acknowledges that different cultures have their own forms of resistance with vocabulary and mechanisms that a European artist might not even know about. Not imposing your ideals, but reserving space for these forms of resistance is often more productive in realising a critical potential. Reserving space for criticism means that you anticipate the unexpected, thereby acknowledging that to a certain extent, despite all universal similarities, you remain an outsider that cannot foresee all complexities present in a foreign culture. Hence ‘stretching the limits without transgressing them’ means anticipating the unexpectedness that often drives us to go abroad but is all too often forgotten upon arrival. All in all, working internationally, especially for artists and cultural workers, remains an unpredictable endeavour, and within this uncertainty lies its promise.

    Dries Verhoeven
    Danstheater AYA
    World Opera Lab
    Performing Arts Fund NL
  • Beauty shall save the world: Lionel Veer on artistic freedom

    Photo by Maria Krisanova on Unsplash

    Beauty shall save the world: Lionel Veer on artistic freedom

    30 april 2019
    Censure may seem a thing of the past in the Netherlands, but it is unfortunately still a reality in large parts of the world. A remarkable keynote.
    By Lionel Veer


    Consul General in St Petersburg and former human rights ambassador Lionel Veer wrote a keynote on the state of artistic freedom in the world for the meetup Artistiek Kompas, organised by Dutch Culture and the Performing Arts Fund on 15 April.

    What is censure?

    Censure may seem a thing of the past in the Netherlands, but it is unfortunately still a reality in large parts of the world. And if you look closely, you will find it here, too. Censure is an umbrella concept for many types of repression, as governments and, increasingly, non-state organisations and groups attempt to control artistic freedom and cultural expression.

    The purpose of censure is always to protect the position of those in power and to maintain the status quo. Authorities often view artists and free spirits in general as a threat, since their desire for freedom and artistic expression pushes up against the boundaries of the established order, and they cast a new light on generally accepted standards and ideas. This is certainly so in situations where a wider sense of discontent is stirring in society, and the feeling of an impending revolt or revolution is in the air. This puts things on a knife-edge, and forms of art, creativity and imagination are easily perceived as undermining authority. You might say that the established order’s greatest fear is that the power of the imagination actually comes to power. Political censure is therefore the most widespread form of censure, and it occurs in many part of the world.

    You might say that the established order’s greatest fear is that the power of the imagination actually comes to power
    Censure as protection

    Social control is also a form of censure. Deviant opinions are ‘corrected’ very effectively within people’s own social circles, without requiring any state intervention. It is often not even perceived as pressure but as ‘protection’. The citizen must be protected against the undermining of the public order and authority, against sexual indecency, moral decay, and a lack of respect for religious symbols.

    Until 1977, the Netherlands exercised film censure with the goal of protecting public morality. A famous film that was banned was Blue Movie by Wim Verstappen and Pim de la Parra, from 1971. The film has now acquired something of a cult status, but Wim Verstappen had a lot of trouble at the time convincing the film certification authority that this film was not pornography but cultural criticism. The ban was eventually revoked, but there are more recent examples of film censure. Just last year, for example, The Death of Stalin – a parody on how the Communist party leadership reacted to the death of the great leader – was banned in Russia. According to the censor, the film was irreverent.  And just a few years ago, Lars van Trier’s Antichrist was banned in France on the grounds of being blasphemous.

    The call for censure can frequently be heard in the Netherlands, too. Not for political censure, but for instance to block the airing of certain television programmes, to ban the performance of bands with neo-Nazi lyrics, or to prohibit events that might endanger ‘the public order’. Of course, situations can occur in in which it is necessary to protect the public order, general morals, minorities or other sensitive matters. In such instances, the call for censure seems legitimate.

    Social control is also a form of censure
    Freedom of expression

    The right to free cultural expression is part of a wider framework of human rights and the right to freedom of expression. It is interesting to first consider the figures concerning repression aimed at journalism, before looking at the volume of violations of the right to artistic freedom. Journalists are often the first to get into trouble. The freedom of expression, free media and the freedom and safety of journalists are under pressure all around the world.

    According to UNESCO statistics, in 2018 more than eighty journalists were murdered. Many were killed while doing their work in dangerous areas, but at least half were killed deliberately, and often far away from international conflict zones. These are shocking figures. But no less shocking is the fact that the murderers have gone unpunished in virtually all instances. This impunity is undermining the rule of law across the world. In 2018, over 250 journalists were in prison. According to the official reason, not because they were working on a critical piece about local authorities or were investigating corruption or criminal activities, but because they had tax arrears or were suspected of terrorism.

    Artistic freedom

    There is lots of information about journalistic repression, but much less about the artists who are killed or imprisoned. Free Muse collects data worldwide about artists under pressure and lobbies the United Nations and national governments to be more respectful of artistic freedom and to act against violations of the right to free cultural expression. Every year the organisation releases the report The State of Artistic Freedom. In 2018 they investigated 673 cases from 80 countries that involved violations of the right to artistic freedom. The report does not pretend to cover all violations that occur around the world, so the figures will actually be much higher.

    Why this particular focus on art and artists? As Free Muse explains, “Arts and culture are crucial for developing vibrant societies, broadening people’s perspectives on different political, cultural and social issues as well as being important indicators of democratic health. Freedom of creative and artistic expression has been recognised as a fundamental human right. Yet, the violations of people’s right to express themselves through different art forms have been constantly registered in different corners of the globe, while artists are physically attacked, prosecuted, detained and in other ways intimidated because of the content of their artwork.”

    Some figures for 2018
    4 artists in 3 countries were murdered
    157 artists in 29 countries were sentenced to prison or arrested

    On what grounds were they arrested or imprisoned?
    56% on political grounds
    18% on suspicion of terrorism
    12% on religious grounds
    9% were part of a minority

    It is surprising to discover that Spain has jailed the largest number of artists, in this case musicians, namely 14 persons. China is in second place with 11 artists.

    What type of artist suffered a restriction of artistic freedom?
    270 musicians in 55 countries
    147 visual artists in 37 countries
    108 film makers in 35 countries
    70 actors and theatre makers in 24 countries
    50 writers in 17 countries
    14 dancers in 9 countries
    14 other violations of artistic freedom in 2 countries

    How often was censure applied in 2018?
    No less than 1807 artists and art works were censured, with the local government acting as censor in 67% of all cases. Remarkably, censure is not applied only in authoritarian countries, but the majority of cases occurred in the United States. It is also interesting to note that in 82% of the cases, the censure was justified in terms of protecting sexual morals, and in 8% the censure was exercised by social media.

    Social media are starting to serve as a kind of modern tribunal with a worldwide reach
    Sexual morals

    Why this recurrent attention for sexual morals? Where does one draw the line between prudishness and indecency? The dividing line has not remained static over the last decades. Much of what was simply accepted as innocent nudity twenty years ago would now be considered indecent. As an example, I think back to the exhibition Youth is an Art by Daan van Golden in the Institut Néerlandais, in the late 1990s. This exhibition consisted of a series of photographs that Daan van Golden had made of his daughter, including some in which she, as a young girl, was nude. This was not an issue at the time, but today you would need to think twice before exhibiting such photographs.

    Have we become so prudish? Or have we come to fear the public reaction, now that a visitor’s indignation can trigger disproportionate attention through social media? This is not censure by the government, but self-censure due to fear for what might follow on social media, which represents a serious threat to artistic freedom. In this way, these media are starting to serve as a kind of modern tribunal with a worldwide reach.

    This problem is exacerbated when the administrators of these social media start removing all sorts of content, without serious reflection or out of fear of being tarnished. The ability to distinguish between art, culture, beauty and obscenity is apparently too difficult for the censors of, for example, Facebook. A case in point is how Facebook removed the 30,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf figurine, and the apologies that the censor was subsequently forced to offer.

    Venus of Willendorf
    A cultural dialogue implies respect for diversity, and the willingness to listen to other views
    Non-state actors

    Free Muse notes an increase in censure by non-state actors: the government’s official censor is assisted or even outdone by all sorts of groups that pressurise artists or artistic event organisers to adapt the content or leave out certain matters. This often leads to self-censure out of fear of being personally targeted. In last year’s documentary Het is gezien, by Tom Rooduijn and Erik Lieshout, a number of Dutch artists say that they will not express certain matters for fear of personal retribution. This is clearly a form of self-censure, even though the persons involved know that they have the law on their side. Social media and the internet play an important role in these cases, too. This is an issue that has received too little attention so far, and even governments who are committed to protecting the freedom of expression are unsure how to respond.


    Combating terrorism is another reason cited to exercise censure. Nobody can object to combating terrorism, but Free Muse notes that governments often cannot resist the temptation of introducing new powers or to use or abuse new rules to silence critical voices. The fourteen musicians who used their voice to support the call for Catalan independence are among those on the receiving end of such strategies. Artists who criticise government authorities, especially in countries under authoritarian rule, still run the greatest risk. However, artists who cast doubt on the dominant social, cultural and certainly also religious norms or who voice a different view are increasingly coming under pressure as well.

    Cultural dialogue

    Today we find ourselves in an oddly paradoxical situation. While the internet and other means of electronic communication have vastly increased the possibilities for the worldwide expression of our cultural diversity, this diversity is met with increasing intolerance. However, this doesn’t mean we should throw in the towel or stop seeking cultural collaboration with partners in countries where the artistic freedom is constrained and human rights are violated. To the contrary, under such difficult circumstances it is all the more important to seek out the other and to engage in dialogue. A cultural dialogue implies respect for diversity, and the willingness to listen to other views. It is important to uphold one’s own ideas and values, but it is also important to listen to others.

    It can be difficult to work in countries where repression and a lack of respect for human rights and artistic freedom prevail. When doing so, it is important to have a clear view in advance of what you wish to do and why. Think carefully about your own cultural and political vision. Be aware that cultural diversity means that others, including your partners abroad, may take a very different view of things which we take for granted. It is essential to respect that people can live and think differently. You must furthermore realise that the people you work with in those countries are exposed to greater risks than you. Whenever you wish to protest against something that you feel is unjust, first stop to think whether this might endanger your local partners.

    Whenever you wish to protest against something that you feel is unjust, first stop to think whether this might endanger your local partners
    More is possible than you might think

    In my experience, it is often possible to do more than you might think at first. This is a reason for optimism. For example, it proved possible to organise Manifesta10 in Russia, in 2014. In one of Russia’s largest and most prestigious cultural institutions, the Hermitage in St Petersburg, a wonderful and certainly somewhat controversial exhibition took place. Now that I live in Russia, I frequently notice that more is possible and is also received with more enthusiasm than I had expected. Perhaps the Russians have a deeper faith in the power of culture, the power of art, and the power of beauty.

    That is why I wish to end by quoting Dostoyevsky, who survived a mock execution and many years of hard labour in Siberian prison camps, and who nevertheless wrote: Beauty shall save the world.


  • “Your film being programmed is a stamp of approval”: opportunities for talent development in the AV industry

    Yulia & Juliet, director Zara Dwinger

    “Your film being programmed is a stamp of approval”: opportunities for talent development in the AV industry

    25 april 2019
    Go Short is a film festival dedicated to short film, with a focus on talent development. A conversation with three ambitious emerging directors.
    By Emma O’Hare


    How are emerging directors finding their way in the AV industry? What are the challenges and opportunities they find in the Netherlands and abroad? Go Short Film Festival in Nijmegen is a Creative Europe MEDIA-supported film festival dedicated entirely to short film, which also means many young and emerging filmmakers and their works are showcased during the festival. I visited the recent edition in April 2019, curious to speak to some of those upcoming talents about their plans and how the AV industry caters to their needs.

    Short Film Festivals boosting talent

    There are quite a few festivals in Europe focusing on shorts. One might wonder why, as short films rarely make their way to cinemas. This lack of programming seems to exclude the possibility of a solid business model. However, short film allows for more experiment and, moreover, can be an important stepping stone for the aspiring filmmaker. A well-received short can be a boost for a further career in filmmaking and in the long run, fosters a healthy industry with a constant influx of new talent.

    Go Short in Nijmegen focuses on talent development in various ways, next to its regular film programming. Since the very first edition of the festival, the Go Short Campus has been a meeting point for filmmakers who are about to make the leap from the academy to the professional world. Also, during the Industry Day speed dates bring participants and industry professionals together. And this year, the festival and the Creative Europe Desk NL co-hosted the Meet the Dutch lunch session to introduce emerging Dutch directors to film festival programmers from all over Europe.

    You have to take a deep plunge after graduating, but if you endure it, you can eventually work independently
    Kato de Boeck
    Provence, director Kato de Boeck
    New talent

    At the festival, I got the chance to chat with directors Kato de Boeck (BE), Zara Dwinger (NL) and Jacqueline Lentzou (GR) about their experience and future plans.
    Jacqueline Lentzou was one of two main guests in focus at Go Short this year. In 2017 two of her shorts including Fox (2016) were programmed at the festival. This time she returned with a sold-out programme with four of her titles. Also, she was given the opportunity to curate her own retrospective shorts programme.

    Jacqueline Lentzou knew she wanted to be a filmmaker when she saw her first arthouse film; Elephant by Gus van Sant. That’s when she realised that film can be more than mere entertainment. “Everyone in my environment was very disappointed because I was a very good student at school and they thought I would become something more serious like a lawyer. But I became a filmmaker.” For Lentzou, festivals like Go Short are an important meeting point for making valuable connections. They also create a healthy creative chain: “Many people who are just starting their career came to me after my programme saying they were very inspired. It is a boost for me that my work inspires other people because that is how I started myself; I was inspired by another person’s work.”

    Director Zara Dwinger, whose second short Yulia & Juliet (a love story about two girls finding love in a juvenile detention centre) had its international premiere at the Berlinale and was screened at Go Short, agrees to the importance of these events for two reasons: “First of all, when your film is programmed at a festival it is a stamp of approval: your film is appreciated by connoisseurs. Secondly watching short films can open your mind and further inspire your own artistic development.”

    Kato de Boeck’s graduation film Provence (about 11-year-old Camille and her older brother Tuur who explore their new camping site in the Provence), for which she won five awards at Short Film Festival Leuven, was also part of the programme. She acknowledges: “Watching films at the festival inspires me in my writing process. Especially short films can be more experimental and encourage me to use more dramatic elements. And sharing experience with other filmmakers is also very helpful.”

    I'd like to see more international exchange and training possibilities for short film
    Zara Dwinger
    Education, training & funding

    The three directors all attended film schools and had their graduation films programmed at various festivals. Dwinger attended the Netherlands Film Academy and her graduation film Sirene premiered at Clermont-Ferrand, the biggest international short film festival. She sees there are a lot of opportunities in The Netherlands for aspiring film makers. The Film Academy makes sure that graduation films are shown to press and important industry players, the Netherlands Film Fund offers funding for short films and it is also possible to apply for funding to attend international training courses funded by Creative Europe MEDIA. NTR Kort and Centraal are other examples of opportunities that can kickstart a career in film making. “The only thing I might want to see more of is international exchange and international training possibilities for short film,” Dwinger adds.

    For De Boeck, who attended RITCS in Brussels, it is still early days. She sometimes finds it challenging to find her way in the industry after graduating and would like to see more training and funding opportunities for short film. Apart from film making, De Boeck teaches film classes at school to make a living, also she got to support herself a little with the prize money she won for Provence. Luckily some producers are interested in producing a new film with her. “You have to take a deep plunge after graduating, but if you endure it, you can eventually work independently.”

    Lentzou attended London Film School and took part in various international training initiatives such as Torino FilmLab and Sundance LAB. Regarding opportunities in her own country Greece, she explains: “The fact that I have been recognised abroad has helped me a lot, more than being recognised in Greece unfortunately. Due to the crisis and a heavy bureaucratic tradition, decisions about funding take long. However, I have an amazing producer who supports me in everything I want to do. The plan is to shoot my first feature in August even without getting as much money as we wanted. We will try to adapt to the lower budget situation, this is part of the current filmmaking fashion: learning to adapt to conditions that are not as fruitful as you wished.” Lentzou is optimistic though: “From restrictions, you tend to gain more creativity. It is not a negative thing at all. What is a negative thing, is waiting and having time passing by, I just want to keep on making. That’s why I have been making one or two shorts each year with little or no funds.”

    From restrictions you tend to gain more creativity
    Jacqueline Lentzou
    Hector Malot The Last Day of the Year, director Jacqueline Lentzou
    Future dreams and ambitions… or plans

    These ambitious young directors all want to further their career in filmmaking into feature films and are all working towards that goal in their own ways. What connects them most notably is that they are all inspired by the power of the moving image to tell stories that touch them personally. When asking Lentzou about her ambitions, she immediately corrects my wording: “I don’t want to call them ambitions, I want to call them plans because they are to be materialized and ambitions can be lost.” After shooting her first feature film this summer, she intends to shoot her next one straight away in October.

    As for her dreams, Lentzou wants to share the message to help Greece more: “Because we are part of the EU we are supposed to be a unit, countries should support each other in finding and supporting talented people. In Greece, there are many talented filmmakers that don’t have the chance to travel, because they have a day job and need to survive. But they have amazing stories to share. It would be wonderful if there was more support for that.”

    De Boeck finds it reassuring that initiatives like Eurimages and Creative Europe MEDIA are stimulating European co-productions. She thinks that international co-productions are the way to even more high-quality feature films in the future. “It is a sector where you sometimes need to be patient and persistent to acquire a place in the industry. Finding that place is what I hope for but who knows where I will end up?”
    Read more about how Creative Europe MEDIA can help you in your creative ambitions.

  • Re:Creating Europe - the conversation continues

    The ITA ensemble recalls various texts evoking and reflecting on a common European dream, from Victor Hugo to Margaret Thatcher and from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to Barack Obama. Copyright: Jan Boeve

    Re:Creating Europe - the conversation continues

    24 april 2019
    DutchCulture and de Balie’s Forum on European Culture started Re:Creating Europe back in 2016. The performance now takes off to Paris and Manchester.
    Re:Creating Europe

    What is Europe? Is it a continent or a culture, a bygone dream or a thriving reality – or all of the above? In a year when a divided United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union and the European Parliament Elections will shake up the system even further, Europe's common future is put to the test.

    This future requires imagination, as it did in the past. Re:Creating Europe is an exploration of Europe through the speeches and texts that have shaped, traced and defined this history. Based on an idea by Yoeri Albrecht, directed by Ivo van Hove and produced by De Balie & ITA, the performance forces audiences to reflect on what Europe is and what it could be. Through the words of artists, thinkers and political leaders – from Shakespeare to Mitterrand, Thatcher to Obama – Europe is imagined, dissected and conjured up by members of the ITA ensemble. 


    On May 4th, at the Ateliers Berthier of the Odéon in Paris, we will continue this quest, a unique mix of theatrical performance and political discourse. Various guest actors and speakers have joined the performance in the past: Jude Law performed in the 2016 edition, and two years later – when opening the Forum on European Culture 2018 – Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven joined the cast

    For the next performance in Paris, the ranks of the ITA ensemble will be bolstered by French actor Charles Berling and German actor Lars Eidinger. Dutch philosopher and essayist Bas Heijne provides an introduction to the performance. Re:Creating Europe takes place on May 4th in Paris, at les Ateliers Berthier (Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe), at 20.00.

    Later, It will venture to the United Kingdom as part of the Manchester International Festival. It will be shown at the Lowry's Lyric Theatre, in Salford, at 20:00 on July 12th. Special guest during that performance will be English actress Juliet Stevenson.

    Learn more about The Forum on European Culture, a joint initiative by DutchCulture and De Balie and read what the New York Times had to say about the performance back in 2016.



    De Balie
    Toneelgroep Amsterdam
    Odéon - Europe Theatre
    Dutch Performing Arts
    The Lowry
  • Open for application: i-Portunus, a European pilot-programme for mobility funding

    Open for application: i-Portunus, a European pilot-programme for mobility funding

    23 april 2019
    The Creative Europe programme is conducting trials on facilitating cross-border mobility for artists to boost creativity, explore markets and develop careers.

    The outcome of the trials serves as a run-up to mobility becoming a permanent action under the Creative Europe programme for 2021-2027. The first trial is i-Portunus, a series of three different mobility calls that fund mobility-related costs such as transport and accommodation for artists travelling between countries participating in the Creative Europe programme. It is managed by a consortium headed by the Goethe-Institut with Institut français, Izolyatsia and Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts.

    The i-Portunus pilot is open to artists active in performing arts and visual arts only. The deadline of the first call is May 15. After that two more calls will follow. The duration of the travel/exchange must be between 15 and 85 days, and should depart earliest June 15, 2019, and should return latest December 31, 2019. The available amount per application is between € 1500 and € 3400, depending on the length of your mobility.

    More information can be found on the website and in the extensive Call for Applications handbook.


    Goethe Institut Amsterdam
    Institut français
  • Going Dutch during the Milan Design Week

    Theo Jansen: Strandbeest Animaris Siamesis. Photo by Media Force

    Going Dutch during the Milan Design Week

    16 april 2019
    The 58th edition of Milan Design Week lasts from the 9th of April until Sunday the 14th. We offer you a concise summary of Dutch art activities this week.

    The Milan Design Week or Salone Internazionale del Mobile is the largest annual interior design fair in the world counting 400.000 visitors. Several Dutch designers use the Salone and its joined events as an opportunity to present themselves. If you are interested in Dutch design and art, find out which exhibitions you should attend. 

    The Dutch in Milano: Masterly
    Organised in the fascinating Palazzo Francesco Turati, this pavilion showcases a collection of the latest design and craftwork from the Netherlands. The 350th anniversary of the death of Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn has served as an inspiration for several collections for Masterly. For example, Melissa Peen x Prades, a collaboration between (you guessed it) Melissa Peen and Prades, unveil their latest line of wallpaper inspired by the Dutch Golden Age and Rembrandt van Rijn. 

    If you are into young talent than check the work of Joana Schneider who appropriates textile techniques deeply rooted in fishermen’s and net makers’ work. If you are interested in big names, don’t miss the presentations of JAPTH and Ikonic Toys where among others you will find works by Richard Hutten. At the last one you can learn magic: how can toddlers’ toys improve the looks of your interior rather than ruin it. See the Masterly website for a complete list of participants.  

    Veterans, newcomers, experimenters
    Besides being present at Masterly, Hutten brought together Dutch creatives to create Freedom, a mind-blowing collection that pushes the boundaries of rug production. One of the fastest rising young Dutch designers, Sabine Marcelis created the geometric Donuts for the collection. You will find her other work, The Green Life at Piazza Duomo: the impressive arch of olive trees is difficult to overlook even in the midst of hundreds of visitors and tourists. Another quality of her work, the poetical way of manipulating light, brought Marcelis the Design Prize and made her the most interesting Newcomer of the Design Week. Designers are awarded in many categories, the Amsterdam based Studio Formafantasma won in Experimentation category for their inventive material investigations.

    Panorama I See That I See What You Don’t See, Rudy Guedj, 2019. Photo by Daria Scagliola.

    Triënnale de Milano: Broken Nature
    Simultaneously you can visit the Triënnale de Milano at the Palazzo d’ Arte, a three yearly international thematic exhibition on design, architecture, art and theatre. This year’s theme Broken Nature calls for us to collectively apply our resources in order to repair the damaged ecosystems that we inhabit and shape.

    Does the potential correlation between solar activity (such as sunspots) and major historical events on earth (such as wars, epidemics or natural disasters) catch your attention? Do you desire to escape from the invisible electromagnetic cloud and the constant information flow that we live in? Than check I See That I See What You Don't See, the Dutch contribution to the Triënnale. The works of Melvin Moti and Bregtje van der Haak are just two from the several inspiring projects brought together by the curatorial team: Angela Rui, design curator and researcher; Marina Otero Verzier, director of Research at The New Institute Rotterdam and Francien van Westrenen, head of Agency at The New Institute Rotterdam. If you don’t have time to see it in Milan, make sure to visit The New Institute in October when the exhibition travels to the Netherlands. 

    Theo Jansen: Dream Beasts
    Defined by international critics as ’a modern Leonardo da Vinci’, Theo Jansen loves to combine scientific knowledge with humanistic suggestions, ranging from experiments on kinetics and mechanics to the exaltation of nature and beauty. Dream Beasts (or Strandbeesten in Dutch) are gigantic animated sculptures resembling skeletons of prehistoric animals or huge insects that move using the thrust of the wind. Hosted by the National Science and Technology Museum you can visit the exhibition until the 19th of May. This is the first time Jansen’s work is on display in Italy. 

    Do you want to keep up with Dutch events in Italy? Follow the Dutch Embassy on Facebook: Olandiamo Ambasciata e Consolato Generale dei Paesi Bassi in Italia