On the grassfield outside of the Parktheater men with broad arms are dismantling the wooden theater. The festival ground is taken down, slowly everything gets back to normal again. It’s a wrap, Best of the Fest. Part of Hallo Cultuur!, the traditional start of the new cultural season. This year’s edition is over, but behind the scenes new plans are already being made. Not only for the next programme but also: How do you reach internationals? Who are these people? And why do they come to a theater? These and many more questions were part of a reading about internationals; In transit to a international Parktheater. Alongside other cultural institutions, the municipality of Eindhoven and other interested organisations, knowledge was shared. Moreover, the Parktheater presented their focus on internationals for the new season.
It has always been a matter of concern; how do you reach expats, internationals and other internationally minded people? How do you get these people into the theater? Loes Barkema of the Parktheater did research on this topic, eventually she met Carola Eijsenring of Indigo Wereld. In collaboration with the TU/e, she developed the program: ‘Get in touch with people and places in Eindhoven.’ The program was developed for the international employees of the TU/e and their spouses. To get more awareness for the program Eijssenring made two special routes for Hallo Cultuur! for internationals. With this approach they could get familiar with the local cultural offerings.
In these routes the Parktheater was a hotspot. This was not without a reason, because last season the Parktheater experimented a lot with new initiatives for internationals. Such as language-independent shows, with special focusgroups wich evaluaded the evenings. Eijsenring: “These evenings were extremely useful. We’ve got a lot of information out of this. For example, communication is still a thing to be concerned about. There already are a lot of language-independant shows or theater shows with subtitles but this isn’t always known within the international community. Another thing what we’ve heard a lot is that they lacked opera. In short, these evenings provided us with a lot of useful information.”
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Rob van Gijzel – the city’s departing mayor – has already expressed himself about an international theater in the city of Eindhoven. But at the Parktheater they try to feed the needs of the internationals as well, because they think there is a shortage of cultural offerings in the city. For the upcoming cultural season they presented the focus on reaching internationals:
- Announcements have to be bilingual, both dutch and english. This is very expensive but also necessary to reach internationals in a better way.
- An international programming platform is being put together. It’s a platform where internationals can co-decide which shows are coming to the theater.
- The theater wants to have more shows for youngsters, but also more theme-shows like comedy or theatre.
Especially this last point, activities for youngsters, is important, believes Olivia van den Broek-Neri. She works at the Holland Expat Center South and registers many of the expats who come to Eindhoven. Therefore she has a clear view on what is happening and she knows what is important for internationals. “Many of them are telling me they really lack an international music school. There isn’t that much to do for the youth, so that’s a missed opportunity.” Ed Heerschap, living in-coordinator with the municipality of Eindhoven agrees with her. “The aim is to make people feel at home as fast as possible. And of course culture contributes to this goal.”
In his function Heerschap tries to improve the quality of life of international students and knowledge workers and their families. “Currently there’s an active lobby going on from Eindhoven to the Hague. We want a change in the Gemeentefonds that does justice to our economic position. As soon as we reach this, not only locals will profit but the internationals will as well.” In the mean time Barkema and Eijsenring keep trying new ways to involve the international community. Regardless if they will get extra money from ‘het Rijk’ or not.
UPDATE: Chances are high that Eindhoven will receive a better position within the Gemeentefonds.
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