The Hague not on the shortlist for 2018
The Hague has not made the shortlist of the title of ‘European Capital of Culture 2018’. It was announced by the international jury on Friday afternoon. The jury was impressed by The Hague’s bid, but the choice fell on the cities of Leeuwarden, Eindhoven and Maastricht. Along with The Hague, Utrecht is also dropping out of the race. But even if The Hague is no longer a contender for the title, the bid book with which it presented its candidacy will remain a source of inspiration for the future! The motto is, ‘We will continue to build!’.
The Hague is already a Capital of Culture
The jury appraised the cities’ candidacy on the basis of their bid book and their presentations to the jury on 29 and 30 November. Aus Greidanus, artistic director of Den Haag 2018, is proud of what has been achieved, even without winning the title. ‘In fact our bid book has demonstrated that The Hague already is a Capital of Culture. Bridges were built and new connections forged throughout the city’s communities. The entire city was eager to contribute, and I wish to express my gratitude to all. The Hague will continue to build on the ‘City without walls’ in the years to come!’
Alderman of Culture Marjolein de Jong is also proud of what has been accomplished. ‘If there’s one thing that has become clear over the past year, then it’s that the residents of The Hague are dedicated to really making culture something that belongs to and is meant for everyone. More than 1400 people shared their ideas regarding culture with us. These included a number of wonderful ideas which we will certainly seek to realise over the coming time’, says De Jong.
The bid book, a source of inspiration for the future
The bid book, entitled ‘City without walls, free haven for boundless thought’, will retain its value as a source of inspiration for the future. A number of ideas and proposals are already under implementation, or will be implemented soon. For example, the culture-business platform Den Haag Cultuur in Bedrijf will be developed further, and cultural education will receive an immense impetus in 2013. The envisioned ‘Peace Park’, stretching from the Peace Palace to the Scheveningen Prison and the new International Criminal Court, will also be realised.
Den Haag 2018 presents bid book
Read the bid book online.
The bid book of Den Haag 2018 is finished! Aus Greidanus, artistic director of Den Haag 2018, presented the first copy of the book to Mayor Jozias van Aartsen on October 30 2012. The bid book describes why The Hague is the best candidate for the title of European Capital of Culture in 2018.
Held in the well-filled Atrium of The Hague City Hall, the presentation conveyed much confidence in The Hague’s ambition. Aus Greidanus: ‘The Hague is an international city with a European mission. We are known throughout the world as the city of Peace and Justice, and we offer Europe and the world a haven for dialogue and a podium for all to demonstrate in openness. The title of the bid book is “City without walls, haven for free thought”. The Hague wishes to be an open city and to break down the mental walls that exist between states, cities and citizens, and to forge new connections’.
The bid book describes three programme themes. The first theme is ‘Open to the outside world’, expressing The Hague’s desire to be a city where all people feel welcome and safe, and where everyone can freely engage in debate. The second theme is ‘Inclusion and opportunities for all’, which refers to The Hague’s intensive efforts to build an open society with equal opportunities for all, through cultural education and an intercultural dialogue. The third theme, entitled ‘Culture without walls’, seeks to overcome barriers and establish connections by highlighting the options and possibilities that exist. Culture and specifically art play an important role in this effort.
Visions of 2018
The bid book does not contain a detailed festival programme, but describes visions and ideas relating to the programme themes. There is, for example, the idea for a ‘Peace Park’: an extensive park linking the Peace Palace to the Scheveningen Prison and the new International Criminal Court. The park can host cultural events all year round. Another example is entitled ‘Spotlight on the Theatre’, and involves a marathon theatre performance on the subject of power and the history of The Hague.
Peace and Justice coupled to the Capital of Culture
Greidanus is convinced that the bid book contains all the ingredients to turn The Hague into Europe’s ultimate Capital of Culture. ‘If the city of Peace and Justice is coupled to the title of Capital of Culture in 2018, then everyone in the world has an excellent reason to come to The Hague for a programme consisting of all our world-quality art disciplines.’ Greidanus emphasises that the aim is not to create a cultural festivities year. ‘Den Haag 2018 is a plea for the fundamental importance of art and culture in a world that needs a powerful narrative for a shared identity. And this neither starts nor ends in the year 2018.’
Den Haag 2018 presented the bid to the jury on Thursday 29 November. Friday 30 November 2012 it will be announced which cities progress to the second round, with the final winner to be decided in 2014.
Read the bid book online.
What is a bidbook?
What is a bid book? It is a plea in favour of The Hague to be European City of Culture in 2018. A plea written on behalf of more than half a million people for a small group of people. In this case a jury consisting of thirteen cultural experts from all over Europe. Six experts are from the Netherlands and seven from other countries. The challenge: convince these critical people that they should accept our bid for The Hague to be the European Capital of Culture of 2018.
What is a cultural capital?
The idea of the yearly Cultural Capital was launched by the Greek singer and minister of culture Melina Mercouri and the French minister of culture Jack Lang in the eighties and since then every year one or two European cities have held this title. The first city was Athens in 1985. Other Dutch cities were: Amsterdam in 1987 and Rotterdam in 2002.
In 2007 the cultural institutions of The Hague came up with the idea that our municipality should bid for the title for 2018. And now the city of The Hague is in competition with four other cities:
Maastricht in the South where the cradle of the Euro stands.
Eindhoven in the East where generations of members of the Philips family made millions in the business of electricity: lights, fridges, hoovers, televisions, cd and dvd players, etc.
Utrecht in the dead centre of the Netherlands, which will celebrate three hundred years of the Treaty of Utrecht next year.
And Leeuwarden in the North of the Netherlands where they speak the minority language Frisian and where they organise the longest skating contest in the world once every thirty years or so.
In December of this year the jury decides which city will be on the short list. And early 2014 the jury will announce which Dutch city will share the title of European Capital of Culture with Malta.
To accomplish the bid book in fourteen months’ time we worked in a small team consisting of a business director (Anastasia Chiarella), an artistic director (Aus Greidanus), a photographer (Gerrit Schreurs) and a designer (Reinier Hamel). Two authors were involved in the project. Thimo de Nijs (employed by the cultural department of the municipality) focused on the strategic policy lines in the latter stages of the project and yours truly. We were supported by an editorial board, three enthusiastic marketers and an office manager.
A talented actor as artistic director
Our city is very fortunate to have a real artist as an artistic director. He is first and foremost an actor, but also director and head of theatre group De Appel which is based in Scheveningen. De Appel is famous for its particular acting style and its marathon performances. This year they staged a play of twelve hours duration. It is about the life and times of the Greek hero Hercules and his twelve labours. Greidanus wrote this play, he directed it and he acts in it as Zeus. It won this years’ main theatre prize in the Netherlands. Apart from this, Greidanus also developed the slogan of our bid for The Hague European Capital of Culture 2018: City Without Walls. Just like Hercules, City Without Walls will be a marathon performance that has never been seen before. And for this mega performance we are going to invite Europe and the entire world.
What is this cultural monster performance about?
As the title says: It’s all about culture. About the culture of The Hague and European culture. And the stage of course is the city itself. The citizens are the actors. Everyone living in The Hague should take part in this marathon performance in which we are going to show the various faces of The Hague. And everyone in Europe is invited to share the event with us.
Which faces of The Hague are we going to show?
Firstly, there is the international face of The Hague, City of Peace and Justice. The Hague is an international city with a lively network stretching all over the world that carries an international mandate to resolve conflicts and to help societies accommodate differences. ‘See you in The Hague’ is for some tyrants a grim greeting and terrifying outlook. And The Hague is a city that is home to 144 nationalities. The Hague is also the centre of parliament and the home and the office of our queen.
Tolerance and open-mindedness are vital to our city.
‘City without walls, haven for boundless thought’
This title goes back to the time that The Hague was a village. In the Middle Ages the ‘graven’ (counts) came to this place in the woods and the dunes because they liked to hunt here. The name ‘s-Gravenhage means literally the “hedge”, the forest area of the counts. They liked it so much here that they built a palace (The Binnenhof) and they moved their parliament here. Yet the king or emperor did not give the Hague city rights because the cities Amsterdam, Delft and Dordrecht were jealous rivals. The Hague never received city rights until the early nineteenth century when Napoleon had invaded the country. Therefore the city remained a vulnerable place and open to everyone up to this day.
Haven for freethinkers
This openness may be the reason why freethinkers from other countries felt attracted to this sanctuary, where they could express their ideas freely. This free haven attracted artists, politicians, leading thinkers and other great minds such as: René Descartes, Hugo Grotius, Baruch Spinoza, father Constantine and son Christian Huygens, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, John Adams and many others. Even today artists and thinkers appreciate The Hague as neutral territory. This year Amnesty International established its Centre for International Justice in The Hague and the city became the first Shelter City of Europe. This means that authors and artists in distress can live in The Hague and continue their work from here. The art academy and the music conservatory attract young talents from all over the world. As you - who live here - know by experience, The Hague is a generous city, rich in culture.
Main selling points of The Hague
In 2018 The Hague will extend its welcome to the world in order to share its treasures with everyone: colourful parks and dunes; always near beach and sea. People can cycle everywhere. We have the world famous dance company Netherlands Dance Theatre and wonderful Rembrandts, Vermeers and Mondrians in our art galleries. Lots of festivals. There is so much to be experienced.
A new narrative for Europe
We have already started preparing for the future event in 2018. Seven years will be gone in no time. The process is even more important than the cultural year 2018. Even if we do not win the title, the municipality has the intention to carry out our plans. The key word in this period of preparation is cultural education. As you know we live in a period of crisis. It is an economic and financial crisis, but Europe is in a cultural crisis too. What we need is a new story. A narrative that we can share instead of a story that will divide us even further. And for this story we need a new cultural awareness. People, politicians as well as citizens, must realize how important culture is for society. Culture can only flourish in freedom. Freedom of thought and freedom of expression are interlinked. The Hague City of Peace and Justice goes hand in hand with the City without Walls. As a haven of free thought over centuries, The Hague has provided the basis for the highest forms of human expression in art, literature, philosophy, science and performance: all those elements we know as ‘culture’. Without the ability to think freely, and to express those thoughts, culture itself cannot exist.
The need for a new cultural awareness
This may sound self evident, but it is a fact that this awareness is in decline among our leaders and – what is even worse - in our education system of this moment. So, because The Hague wishes to stimulate cultural awareness and artistic appreciation among its youthful population, it is developing a new Cultural Education master plan in dialogue with cultural institutions, schools, the government and Europe. The Hague seeks to set an inspiring example for other cities and countries.
The bid book
You can read the English bid book online. It is a beautifully illustrated portrait of the city of The Hague and environs with scores of plans to strengthen the cultural infrastructure. Many visions of the future are expressed by 34 ‘Hagenaars’. Some of them are historical persons like Spinoza, Grotius and Elizabeth Stuart. All of them tell their own personal stories and expectations. Read Ian Buruma’s portrait and learn how he grew up in the posh area of Benoordenhout. Read why ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda thinks of The Hague as an old friend. And find out what the Irish tourist Nora Barnacle really thinks about Scheveningen and The Hague. Read about new plans for a peace park connecting the Peace Palace with the new building of the International Criminal Court. Get to know educator Jan Ligthart who invented revolutionary ways of education at the end of the 19th century in the poor area of the Schilderswijk. And if you yourself have any ideas or thoughts that could be beneficial to The Hague 2018, please share them with us and let us know.