Before SPOT Festival this year, I was contacted by a guy named Claus. He thought that I would be interesting for us to meet two of his friends, Koen and Afke, from Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.
Leeuwarden has been awarded the honor of being the European cultural capitol in 2018, the year after Aarhus – so it seemed more than interesting to have a talk about their city and what they’re doing in order to prepare for 2018 – and interesting it was!
When talking about Aarhus as cultural capitol in 2o17 here in Aarhus, people often respond with “what?” or a “well, things aren’t going that great, huh?”. Truth be told, I’m one of those guys who feel like things aren’t going as they should, maybe because I’m not being informed on the projects in progress or what the actual goal is. All I’ve been told is, that a lot of money has been spent on projects that isn’t all that Aarhus-ish. I’m great fan of what’s going on in Aarhus, on the cultural scene, and as far as I see it, it would’ve been a great idea to spent some of all that money on helping all these beautiful projects grow bigger. All in all, there has been some problems with engaging the people living in Aarhus, and somethings as simple as letting us know what’s going on – in Leeuwarden, it seems like it’s other way around.
When first meeting Afke and Koen, they presented us with a book. It contained small portraits of about a hundred different people working on things or a part of project 2018. I had a problem with naming three in Aarhus (at that time). We started talking about the city, and the engagement from the people living there. They told us, that when they were awarded the honor they had a massive celebration. I know, it sounds weird. But they actually celebrated it? It seems like quite the contrast to Aarhus, where a lot of people aren’t aware of it.
The work in Leeuwarden is centered around the Frisian word Mienskip; sense of community. This means, that from the organization it has been all about growing as a community, as a city. Koen told us, that the cultural scene in Leeuwarden has been growing a lot during the last couple of years, but not without the city losing its identity. On the other hand, the work in Aarhus is more or less based on the word rethink. The Aarhus that I love so much suddenly had an opportunity to grow bigger, to rise and shine, but instead we are planning on rethinking Aarhus.
These are just things we’ve been told (and researched afterwards), so now we’re packing our bags and going to visit them and their new festival Welcome To The Village. It had its first year in 2013, and is a product of the city’s growing cultural scene – and a LOT of volunteers. This is meant as an inspirational trip, to see if things really are as they say, and to figure out what we can do in order to engaging the people living in Aarhus. Also, we would like to build a bridge between the two cities, to figure out a way we can gain from this together – an example could be building a platform from where the two cities could showcase what the cities have to offer.
We hope that we can come back with a lot of insight and ideas, and hopefully in 2017 be a part of showing just how amazing Aarhus really is. If you want to be a part of it, if you’ve got ideas or already working on something, we would love to have a talk about it – feel free to contact us at: