Holland Festival director: go out and support culture again

Holland Festival director: go out and support culture again

Holland Festival returns at full power this year Foto S Boztas

Cultural organizations should remind people of the joy of booking tickets and coming out of their bubble, says the director of the Holland Festival.

Emily Ansenk, presents a 75e edition of the Holland Festival from June 3, said that the effects of corona are far from over – and that government and the public should support our cultural sector.

“It would be good to start a general campaign to emphasize that all theatres, stages and concert halls are open, to create awareness,” she said. “I think during the Covid period everyone felt that art is so important, the emptiness of the Covid period is over but people are not coming back to the theaters and concert halls and festivals yet.”

Many people, she said, are disappointed with the performances and activities that have been canceled during the pandemic and are waiting for vouchers to be redeemed. But hesitation about making commitments and a more uncertain economy are having a negative effect on ticket sales.

Last moment

“Their calendars are packed with all these social events and people’s attitudes towards buying tickets are completely different than before,” she said. ‘Now you often buy at the last possible moment.

“Remember the time when there was a rush to buy tickets because otherwise you would be late? Weeks, sometimes months earlier, with the Holland Festival. Now you look at your calendar and decide what you are going to do tonight and tomorrow. That’s very different.’

The coronavirus is of course still present, although there are no restrictions and some audience members are still nervous about large crowds. But Ansenk warns that if we don’t support our arts institutions, theaters and festivals now that the government’s financial support packages have ended, many could be at risk.

A survey by the Museums Association Museums in April showed that a quarter of Dutch museums are at risk of financial problems, while a Culture Monitor survey at the end of 2021 revealed a vulnerable sector. From Dutch freedom festivals to dance and popular events, extra government support may be needed.


‘The danger is that the institutions cannot cope financially,’ says Ansenk. ‘Or you really get into financial trouble and that trickles down to all producers and makers – there’s less to present. The other risk is that everyone only shows or presents the bigger names and all art becomes mainstream: no experiment, no younger talent, no unknown names. We never present mainstream at the Holland Festival. It’s all a bit adventurous.’

At the festival, which features events featuring local and international talent, such as When Paths Meet, ticket sales are still hugely important – not just for the future of the festival, but also for the public, she adds.

†[During the pandemic] we narrowed our worlds, sitting in our own living room or bedroom, living in your own bubble, seeing the same people, the same ads on your phone or computer. What we’re trying to do is reach out and give different perspectives, different stories, to get you out of your bubble to open up the world that’s so much bigger.”

The Holland Festival runs from 3 to 26 June

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