Story of Melkweg

Erik Backer

I am Eric Backer. I am the executive director of Melkweg and I am responsible for the organization, the personnel, the building so not strictly for the programme. We are here in the old part of the Melkweg. And Melkweg is located in the city of Amsterdam right in the centre in an old building. It used to be a warehouse for sugar in the 19th century and it became the milk factory in the 30’ of the 20th century. This building stood empty at the end of the 60’.
In the 1970 the theater group looking for a location for their theatre play found this empty building. They did not squat it actually. They really got the key from the mayor to do something here. And they immediately found out this is a place where you can do more things than just a theater play. So they started to more or less rebuild part of it. It was derelict at the time. They also succeeded in not only doing theater but also music and what was very hot at the time a video.

And the interesting thing is that in 1970 Amsterdam was really the magic centre of the world for young hippies of the. Young people were flooding into Amsterdam. So the city of Amsterdam was actually quite happy with the place like Melkweg where the things were organized for all these young people who were coming to Amsterdam. And already from the beginning although at the time it was only a project that took place in summer we specialized in rock, pop music and in theatre, contemporary dance. We had exhibitions. We showed films and video. And that has been the case ever since so we are doing this already over 40 years.

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Erik Backer

Erik Backer

Executive director of Melkweg in Amsterdam, Netherlands

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