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het voor woord

March 16, 2007

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We visited The Hague yesterday to attend a Dutch Literature Festival called Het Voorwoord (The Forward). It is a pre-curser to a much larger international festival called Crossing the Border (www.crossingborder.nl) that takes place in November 2007 in the same space. This one, however was predominately in Dutch with some music performed in English. The space was great. A big theatre and other anti-rooms that were used as smaller performance venues. A good bar and a set up so that writers could act as DJs as the evening progressed. I managed to talk to people from the publicity department including Eline Driest who had invited us to attend, and the director of the festival, Louis Behre. I also chatted to about 6 or 7 members of the audience including people from a theatre, background, a musician/song writer, a couple of visual artists and a man who won the tickets to attend in a competition. The theatre people talked about how the Dutch arts council are supporting well established companies, but that there isn’t much funding for new innovative work. This shift has happened fairly recently in Holland. I think the lottery funding has helped individual artists back in the UK, and there is more of an emphasis on supporting them than before. The audience members also talk about Dutch immigration issues as being very topical, and how the arts at least, transgress these boundaries and help cultural communication. I felt that impulse when I went over to Canada last year on a writing programme. There were lots of Cuban musicians working alongside Canadians at The Banff Centre and when they performed together each brought a richness to the other’s musical tradition and rhythms. Sorry. This blog is not dealing with Dutch poetry! I think I need to come back and go to the international festival, or hear some work in translation, to get a feel for current concerns and styles. Still. It was good to see the space, and experience how the festival was put together. Good production values on the whole, with the odd presenter waving around her notes on a bit of paper (Familiar to me, as a regular attendee of literature events back home. Suddenly got a bit homesick.) . I think there are contacts here that Sources can follow up at a later date.

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