De Duif supports upcoming talent

Unique Insights #4

In these times of corona, Emmy Schouten, head of the special locations department at Stadsherstel Amsterdam (Amsterdam Urban Renewal), is offering young musicians affordable rehearsal space while at the same time providing local residents with inspiring events. What has she learned from the open rehearsals at De Duif in our corona-secure society?

Offering young musicians a stage
“When we were forced to close, we took the opportunity to thoroughly clear the place up and get some overdue maintenance done. Then we thought about what would be possible given the circumstances. Because one of our main priorities is offering young musicians and theatre makers a stage, we quickly started offering them rehearsal space,” explains Schouten. “They don’t have much of a budget, so we allowed them to rent the space for a cultural fee, and our only demand was that they perform for the public. So we organised public rehearsals on Fridays and people were able to register for time slots to come and watch.”

“We were allowed to admit 30 people into the hall, but we chose instead to admit two or three people for half an hour at a time to the open rehearsals. In that respect we were very cautious,” admits Emmy. “Visitors would listen to a piece of music or watch a theatre performance and receive explanations. A real peek behind the scenes. Not a concert. It was very small-scale, but people really appreciated it.”

Live music is interactive
Emmy now organises ‘normal’ concerts again, adhering to a meticulous protocol. “Initially we programmed two one-hour concerts per evening, but that turned out to be too intensive for the musicians. So now we programme just one concert per evening again. We are deliberately not streaming the events, because visiting the location is integral to the total experience. The musicians need the audience too. After all, live music is an interactive experience.”

©Maarten Kools

Crystal ball
Emmy doesn’t want to try and predict the future. “On 30 August we will celebrate our 64th anniversary and we hope be able to continue organising concerts and public rehearsals. Our revenue comes mostly from commercial leasing, which has decreased significantly. But we remain optimistic. For example, we’ve just agreed a great partnership with the University of Amsterdam which is renting space from us to compensate for a shortage of classrooms.”

Golden ticket
It’s Emmy’s turn to pass on the golden ticket. Which unique venue in Amsterdam does she want to ask how they organised a particular event? “I’d love to know how the Portuguese Synagogue has been managing during these times.”