±JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Get useful expat articles, health and financial news, social media recommendations and more in your inbox each month - free!



We respect your privacy - we don't spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

±Compare Expat Providers

Expat Health Insurance Quotes

Foreign Currency Exchange Quotes

International Moving Quotes

We're very social! Follow Expat Focus on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+

Expat Focus Facebook PageExpat Focus on TwitterExpat Focus Pinterest PageExpat Focus Google+ Page

Notify me when new content is added about a country

±Expat Focus Partners

Articles

Netherlands > Articles

Netherlands

De Balie: A Centre For International Culture In Amsterdam

  Posted Tuesday July 11, 2017 (11:59:23)
(c) De Balie
(c) De Balie

Newcomers to the Netherlands seeking culture, debate and discussion in English can find a lovingly-curated programme of events at De Balie in central Amsterdam. The former district court, with its beautiful stained glass, doubles as a wedding venue when not hosting discussions and performances. In 2016, De Balie welcomed some 99,000 visitors to enjoy its film screenings, concerts, art exhibitions and debates. Not to mention the hundreds that flock there daily to drink coffee or meet friends for lunch.

For Emma Lotte de Groot, the centre’s PR manager, culture has a role to play in helping people engage with new ideas: ‘We believe that art can really show things from different perspectives, so we have a lot of dance and theatre and music, but also debates.’

With eight full-time programme-makers with different specialisms, De Balie is unusually well-placed to offer this diversity. The expertise of the editorial team ensures that the key issues of the day in a given topic area are given floor time and the prestigious guest speakers are hand-picked. Within each specialism there is also room for considerable variety. The Middle East Report, for example, has included panel discussions, theatre, and even opera.


Free Speech

Also important at De Balie is a culture of tolerance and open ears. ‘We try to construct safe spaces where people can think freely, speak freely, and share thoughts through talking, meeting each other, dancing and theatre,’ explains Emma.

This has been a challenge at times, and debates on the floor and back in the office have been heated, but De Balie’s goal to bring diverse groups together necessitates occasional conflict. ‘Exchanging ideas is one of the fundaments of democracy,’ says Emma. ‘If you stop listening to each other then there’s a problem in society.’

The social benefit of such a centre is recognised by the town council, who subsidise 18% of De Balie’s running costs. De Balie also works in association with various NGOs who help fund several of the programmes they run.


Cultural Entrepreneurship

De Balie is a proponent of what it calls ‘cultural entrepreneurship’. It is successful, not just because of the calibre of the programmes it organises, but also because it has become adept at selling tickets, renting its facilities, identifying project partners, and recruiting passionate staff with a clear vision for the centre. With the same principle in mind, De Balie also tries to give other entrepreneurs a leg up and nurture new talent. Each month, for example, it exhibits the work of a different young artist or photographer.


What Is ‘International’ About De Balie?

The origin and genre of the films at the De Balie cinema are deliberately international and varied. Recent screenings include La Chana (Spanish), De Keuze Van Mijn Vader (Dutch/Chinese), and ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ (English), all with either Dutch or English subtitles.

De Balie schedules at least one English-speaking programme per week. This could take the form of a panel discussion, debate, play or film.

From September 2017, English-speakers will be able to subscribe to De Balie’s English newsletter, which will highlight those programmes running at De Balie of most interest to this audience. The English version of the website is also being updated as De Balie is keen to engage this demographic and share its interesting programme with them.



The bar and restaurant at De Balie
(c) De Balie


De Balie’s international character is also reflected in the range of organisations it works with. It is a member of pan-European debating society Time to Talk, for example. Other collaborations include Human Rights Watch, the European Cultural Foundation, and the Battle of Ideas.

Multinational artists and speakers ensure a fresh perspective on the issues of the day. Previous guests include novelist Zadie Smith, musicians Pussy Riot, actor Jude Law, film director Ulrich Seidl, painter Marlene Dumas, psychologist and behavioural economist Dan Ariely, actor and playwright Taher Najib, journalist Fintan O’Toole, and economist Ha-Joon Chang.


De Balie TV

In 2016, 282,000 people tuned in to De Balie TV, the live streaming and archiving of all programmes run at the centre. Emma sees its purpose as multiple: ‘This is partly because of transparency, because we want to show what happens here, but it is also because our main goal is to stimulate public debate, so that’s why we try to enlarge our reach. By live streaming all our programmes, more people can watch it – also people who don’t live in Amsterdam or are unable to come here on that specific night.’


A Place to Meet

Living abroad, it is sometimes hard to engage with the intellectual and cultural life of your new home. Meeting others and experiencing ideas first-hand is refreshing. ‘People really value coming together in a physical way, sitting together in a room, instead of just watching it online or seeing it in a newspaper,’ says Emma of the debates and discussions. ‘I think that’s because it’s live journalism – there’s no possibility to cut. It’s really pure. What you see is what you get.’

For many daytime visitors, the main attraction of De Balie is the restaurant and bar area, which is large by Amsterdam standards, centrally-located, and very popular with expatriates. In the morning it is full of people enjoying coffee, while at night, the bustling bar is the focus. Behind the bar is a restaurant area offering three courses, including several vegetarian options and favourites such as burger and chips, roast pork and ravioli. Customers combining their meal with a cinema visit benefit from a 10% reduction on their dinner bill.

De Balie serves breakfast each day and, on Sundays, offers brunch with optional Bloody Mary or Mimosa.

The bar is also a great place to engage with the speakers and performers at some of the events. Known at De Balie as ‘The Third Half’, the discussions in the bar often linger long after the formal, seated part of the programme has finished. When last orders has been called and the lights go out, - as late as 3am on the weekend – it is hoped that the conversations continue.


 

  Printer Friendly Format
 


Expat Health Insurance Partners


Aetna International

Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.

Aviva International

Health is your number one priority. At Aviva we understand this, which is why we’re focused on helping you and your family access high quality healthcare at home or overseas. Our award winning medical insurance will help you get the treatment you need or simply provide guidance and advice wherever you are, 24/7.

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.

Cigna International

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.