Do you dare to go to new makers?Published 16 Jun 2016 at 10:27 by Liedewij Loorbach
One of our leading goals when we got started: new audiences for new makers! And, do you dare to spend an evening discovering unknown names? Compagnietheater, Korzo productiehuis and LIMA tell us why we all should.
Have you heard of Joeri Dubbe? No? No worries. Dubbe is a young choreographer who made the performance Infant, under the wings of The Hague-based dance production house Korzo. A whopping 98 We Are Public members didn’t hesitate about not know his name and were extremely pleased with the experience.
“For the performers, it was one of the most beautiful performances of the tour,” says Marieke van Oosten, head of marketing for Korzo. “I was in the audience myself that night, and had the impression that the audience was pleasantly surprised. That many of them didn’t know what they were up for, but went in with open minds. That attitude, that approach, the performers could feel it too.”
The larger performances in our programme, The National Opera and Ballet, Nederlands Danstheater, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, always draw large crowds of We Are Public members. Sometimes we ask ourselves: Do we do enough for the unknown makers? When we look at the numbers, we see: we do pretty well! But there’s always room for improvement.
The Compagnietheater is an established theatre venue dedicated to innovative and young theater makers. “We see it as our job, to get audiences to their performances,” says director Jacqueline van Benthem. “Unknown makers: nobody’s jumping at the opportunity. Especially now, you can tell that people have started making more conscious decisions because of the crisis. And if they have the choose, their choose something more renowned: Halina Reijn. The first to suffer from that are emerging makers.”
One of the first collaborations between We Are Public and the Compagnietheater was the performance Nobody Home by Daria Bukvic. “We Are Public really helped get the first audiences in for that show. Meanwhile it’s become a very successful performance, they are still touring throughout the country. But each new maker needs word-of-mouth advertising to achieve that, and that starts with turnouts of theatergoers that show up.”
Van Benthem gives another example. Theater maker Linda Zijl held her performance, STUK, in the small hall of the Compagnietheater. “We had only sold three tickets. Normally, you would cancel the performance, but thanks to We Are Public, fifty people showed up in the audience, filling up the room. And everyone was extremely enthusiastic.” The record number assemblage of We Are Public members in the Compagnietheater: 185 during De Zender.
Korzo is familiar with the problem of getting audiences interested in unknown names. “We mostly work with emerging makers and try to create reliability by tying their names to Korzo. Many people in the The Hague area are familiar with Korzo and keep their eye on what we do. Our audience frequently attend artists they’ve never heard of. If they enjoyed it, they start following that artist’s development. But in other cities, it’s remains a challenge for young makers,” says Van Oosten. “Now we have a great collaboration with Theater Bellevue, and together we present a number of performances per year by makers from our production house – that way, together, we can create audiences for them. And then, on top of that, all the We Are Public members: it really works out great.”
In February, 56 members attended the Korzo performance Rise Up by choreographer Guilherme Miotto, and last year, 47 members attended choreographer Marina Mascarell’s Korzo production. “I am one of the many We Are Public enthusiasts in The Hague, and now We Are Public is coming to The Hague too,” says Van Oosten. “I have seen how it’s a great way to get cultural aficionados to attend a diverse array of events.”
At LIMA, platform for media art, they are already thrilled to have 10 We Are Public members attend their events. “We have a 50-person capacity,” programme maker Sanneke Huisman tells us. “We’re a small player, and we need several channels to reach our audiences. We are very happy with We Are Public. Members are often one-third of the people in the room.” There’s also an overlap, says Sanneke. A portion of their own audiences are We Are Public members. But the largest portion of We Are Public members are introduced to LIMA through the selection; events that often showcase the works of new makers. The Compagnietheater has already started taking We Are Public members into consideration when programming. “We are currently working on a special Christmas week. We paused to think: wow, that would be great for We Are Public. Maybe we can convince their curators to help us organise an exclusive day for members.”
Is all this talk of new makers inspiring you to go out and explore the unknown? Choreographer and dancer Hilde Elbers will perform A Manual for Walking in the Ostade theater on Friday 24 June. We’ve also got three performances from ITs – International Theater Festival – this weekend.