Henriëtte Post (Performing Arts Fund): ‘If the balance loses and the group with the boost function becomes too small, the system solidifies’


Henriette Post, Photographer: Tim van Bentum

“The advisory committees did abdominal pain meetings, and that wasn’t over when we looked at the results.” I speak to Henriëtte Post an hour after the decisions of the Performing Arts Fund for the subsidy period 2021-2024 were published. As director of the Fund, she is ultimately responsible.

One of the most striking consequences of the assessment by the fund is the disappearance of a whole generation of makers from the system.

‘The fund is there for both inflow, throughput and continuity. I am also convinced that the broadening and innovation that everyone is talking about also has to do with organizing inflow and outflow. We therefore considered the influx important. What we have done ‘up front’ is a division into three categories, where the first can get the lowest amount and the third the highest. ‘

‘Also, unlike four years ago when there was a lot of criticism because we had everyone on the same benchmark, both newcomers and old-timers have adjusted the criteria according to how much money you apply for. Newcomers who applied for little money now had to meet fewer requirements than institutions that applied for a lot of money. You can say that it worked out quite well. There are many newcomers in category 1. ‘


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The assessment is also about the relationship with the public.

‘Then we will not only look at the application itself, but also whether the offer made by the institution can already be seen in much or little in the Netherlands. This is how we weigh up, but we do not weigh up applications in their entirety. ”

The biggest blows fall in jazz and improvised music, but also in the visual and puppet theater, and in the groups that determined the face of Dutch theater in the 1990s: Discordia, Dood Paard, Barre Land, and – from later date – Matzer.

All groups from that disgraced category 2. All things considered: couldn’t that be any different?

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“That was certainly not a preconceived plan. That category 2 is what our assignment is about. You can call that middle groups, but I prefer to talk about it midcareer makers. Makers with an independent manufacturing practice, who for that reason can never fulfill a ‘function’ in the Bis. We find that the space for that group is limited. ‘

The fault of political The Hague?

‘If you make the BIS bigger, so add a lot more institutionalized makers to the system, you should ideally also ensure that the balance between the big bis and the independent makers is maintained. Not only do they complement each other, they are also communicating vessels. ”

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‘You can say shortly: artistic innovation largely originates from that group. The BIS also benefits from this. These makers also see what society counts on, and the successors for the BIS leaders also come from that group: Eric de Vroed, Guy Weizman, Alida Dors. If the balance loses and the group with the boost function becomes too small, the system solidifies. ”

An entire generation is now emerging.

‘Something like that also threatened in 2016 and that was then repaired by the House of Representatives. There are now similarities with the results then. The question then arises whether that should lead to completely different choices. ‘

The entourage of Discordia, Dood Paard, De theatertroep and ‘t Barre Land has been around for a long time, with a small audience, but they are a permanent force in Dutch theater. Doesn’t that deserve some sort of basic place? In Belgium you have clubs like Needcompany that do have such a position.

‘It is not possible in the Dutch system. What you are proposing is a system change, in which you have two other arrangements with the fund in addition to the BIS: one for the independent makers and one for the more institutionalized forms of performing arts that would then form a mini-BIS. That requires more than is currently possible. If we had done that, which is purely theoretical, and you shouldn’t be discussing that for too long, we would have had to set aside part of those 20 million for category 2. Then the rest would have been further compromised. But in fact you make the painful choices explicit with that question. ‘

And now the good news: The admitted festivals have all received their requested money. Netherlands, festival country?

‘The festivals owe them the increase in significance within the system mainly to themselves. At the festivals you see that in the early years 0 they fulfill a sort of bridge function in the programming of the theaters. Especially at festivals you could find an audience that, in between the audience acts, was also in for an adventurous programming. But now they really form an essential part of the stage system. They have become an important presentation place where many of the multi-year subsidized makers play. They also play an increasingly important role in the manufacturing culture locally. Lots of talent development programs that have sprung up locally, often involving festivals. They also offer a stage for that starting talent that also ends up on the stages. So they have increased their meaning. ”

Rose stories is a big winner and has one leg in the BIS. You may not formally apply to the Fund. Nevertheless, the foundation also receives money from you. What’s up with that?

“They have applied to us for something completely different, but we ask them, like all other subsidy recipients, to be accountable for what they spend our money on. They will have to make it clear that they are spending the money on the activities for which it is intended. We have no reason to think that they will use the Fund’s budget for Musicalmakers. ”


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