How to set up a cultural centre?

Erik Backer

Well, the new building is always better. No, it is really funny and there are old buildings that were well built and better built the new building so that is one thing. But you of course have to deal with an old building. It has a special problems but it also has a better atmosphere usually. That is why people are really attracted to it and sometimes even addicted to it. In a general sense I would say that if you are working in this field or starting something that you really have to ask yourself, what do we want to be. Do we want to be the place where we are going to show things? Or are we going to be a place where are going to create things? Or if it is going to be both and what does that mean? Are the creative people and the people who want just to show operating on the same level?

I have seen many times that these different interests or ideas on what is the most important in the creative sector really need sometimes no decisions being made. And at the same time the rest of the world and your city is developing and you are lagging behind. Or does your audience understand where do you stand for? Who are you? Where do you want to go? Otherwise it is hard for them to join.

I would say that the main thing is really that you do not just start something but really ask yourself, what do we want to be. And also it is usually a few people. Melkweg was started by few people too. And one of the two guys who started left Melkweg only two years ago. He stated the director for 40 years. It has a good side but it also has a lesser side. It is that there is this main idea of how you are located in one person usually. You can see that a lot with new initiatives that the artist who knows it all and wants is all. Be careful of a founder idea that this person can only show and lead the way. The several things knowing where you go and who is the one you are following is really something to take into account.

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Erik Backer

Erik Backer

Executive director of Melkweg in Amsterdam, Netherlands

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