What do the numbers say: Edition U.S.A. brings you a summer newsflash on Dutch arts & culture

What do the numbers say: Edition U.S.A. brings you a summer newsflash on Dutch arts & culture

Looking into the international activities by Dutch artists in the United States in 2018 leads to surprising facts: these cities and festivals are booming!
By Renske Ebbers


DutchCulture hosts the one and only online repository of Dutch international cultural activities abroad, and the summer break is the perfect moment to take a deeper look into this database. As advisors to the cultural field, we often encourage cultural makers with international ambitions to really do their research about the country they want to work in. To learn about the work ethic, the financial structures, the political situation and cultural traditions. And, of course, we urge them to check our database to see who has gone before you, where they went and how they went about it. Better well stolen than badly invented, right? Vice versa, we learn about cultural cooperation with the country in question by listening to you and analyzing your activities abroad.

Jaap van Zweden. Photo: Chris Lee
Chris Lee
Cultural newsflash

This advice can be applied specifically to the United States since there are so many paths to choose in this country. With a relentless 24-hour news cycle and the vast amount of entertaining American talk shows, it might be hard to look beyond both intriguing and deterrent political and social news items. You would almost oversee the fact, that 660 Dutch artists and artistic organisations showed their work across the ocean, in 331 different cities in the United States! Therefore, I would like to give you some surprising newsflashes today that will give you insights about the Dutch arts and culture in the U.S.A. Did you know that there are exciting opportunities in all cultural disciplines beyond the top five cities New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas? Were you aware of the growing Dutch presence on American festivals and fairs? If not, keep on reading!

Nearly 80% of all the Dutch activities in 2018, took place outside of New York
“Start spreading the news, I am leaving today...”

Thinking about the U.S.A., a song like Frank Sinatra often jumps to mind, praising and evoking the city of opportunity: New York. It goes without saying that New York is highly important for arts and culture, as it is the number one city for Dutch activities. However, it is important to point out that close to 80% of all the Dutch activities in 2018, took place outside of New York! In fact, 60% of the activities took place outside of the top five cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas and Miami. And so it emerges - almost like in the old Frank Sinatra song: “if you can’t make it there, you can make it elsewhere.”

Texas as a cultural hotspot

To illustrate, I would like to introduce you to the cities six to ten from our 2018 list. I looked into the activities taking place there, and hope to point out interesting opportunities for multiple disciplines that may lead you to undiscovered paths. Shifting our focus to the far south, we find Houston, Dallas and Austin; three cities in the state of Texas.

In Dallas, we can find activities by Dutch organisations in the disciplines of Audiovisual Media, Heritage, Performing Arts, Visual Arts and Music. Especially Classical Music is thriving in Dallas, since Dutch maestro Jaap van Zweden conducted 18 performances at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center as the musical director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Jaap’s story is a great example of building an international career by starting small; from Dallas, he has now moved on to New York to become the musical director of the New York Philharmonic.

Houston is also a paradise for Dutch musical geniuses, albeit in a slightly different genre. In 2018, 24 of the best Dutch DJ’s, like Afrojack, Ferry Corsten, Oliver Heldens and Yellow Claw were performing at 8 different venues in Houston! The most popular venues are famous nightclubs Clé Houston and Stereo Live. This makes Houston a great alternative to EDM hotspot Las Vegas, where 37 DJ’s played at 14 venues.

Austin offers many chances for different disciplines, as well as cross-disciplinary opportunities. Especially artists working on the crossroads of Design, Music and Digital Culture can find recognition at the South by Southwest festival, but I will talk more about that later on. More surprising might be that there were a dozen activities besides SXSW taking place in Austin, for example by theatre group Wunderbaum, who performed at the Fusebox Festival.

SXSW. Photo: Ryan Loughlin (Unsplash)
Ryan Loughlin (Unsplash)
From Seattle to Washington

Travelling to the other side of the country, (which means a road trip of 3423 kilometres, equivalent to Amsterdam - Antalya), we see a diversity of Dutch organisations present in Seattle. Architect Marten Kuipers gave the lecture ‘Seeing our Invisible City’ at the Design Matters conference, while Zara Dwinger and Saskia Boddeke’s films were presented at the Seattle International Film Festival and the work of visual artists Berndnaut Smilde and Sebastiaan Bremer was exhibited in the Winston Wachter Gallery. Elsewhere, we can think of the translations of Dutch authors that were published by Seattle-based Amazon Crossing, disseminating Dutch literature all across the U.S.A.

Coming back to the East Coast, we see that Washington offers opportunities for Design, Audiovisual Media, Heritage, Visual Arts and the Performing Arts. For this latter discipline, the John F. Kennedy Center is a venue to follow, since the Dutch Dance Theater and the International Theatre Amsterdam performed several pieces here this year. In 2019 and 2020, the Kennedy Center is one of the main partners of the Dutch Youth Culture programme Never Grow Up!. For more information about this newsflash, read up on the programme here!

The John F. Kennedy Center is a venue to follow since the Dutch Dance Theater and the International Theatre Amsterdam performed here
Music festivals are so 2018

Festivals and fairs are very important for artists who want to explore international ambitions and build an international career. Not only do high-profile festivals provide a good opportunity to show your work, but they also bring together many experts and professionals from the cultural field. Being able to network, find potential partners and catch up with the latest discourses in your field can make all the difference for working abroad. That’s probably why the focus on Dutch presence at annual gatherings keeps on growing and in 2018 already 4 of the top 10 venues were festivals or fairs.

The most important festival is the previously mentioned South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. The festival focusses on digital and interactive media, film and music, and is especially fond of cross-media projects. In 2018, there were 59 Dutch activities at SXSW, 34 music performances, five film screenings, five design lectures and debates, nine debates and workshops in digital culture, five heritage-related activities and a visual arts performance. The place to be for electronic music is definitely the Electric Daisy Carnaval, with 25 Dutch DJ’s in live action in 2018.

LGBT flag. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Art exhibitions and LGBTQ+ films

At Art Basel in Miami, generally known as the primary art show for the Americans, the best contemporary and modern artworks from galleries all over the world are exhibited. It requires beating some tough competition to conquer a spot at this fair. However, in 2018 Dutch visual artists were taking their place in the spotlight with ten solo exhibitions and seven group exhibitions in Miami.

The film festival with the strongest Dutch participation is the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, as no less than twenty Dutch filmmakers presented their work here in 2018. Dutch work was also presented at the Chicago International Film Festival and the Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival. In fact,19 of the 49 film festivals in the U.S.A. with Dutch presence are specific LGBTQ+ festivals! If that is not a great, positive newsflash, I don’t know what is.

Stay in touch!

With this quick summer research in our database, I hope to have given you some positive newsflashes on Dutch Arts and Culture in the U.S.A. If you are an artist or an artistic organisation with serious ambitions to work in the United States, please read the recommendations and tips on the website of the Dutch Consulate General in New York, and check out the Frequently Asked Questions at the United States home page on our website. Here you will also find our database, so you can get started with your own research. Do let us know if you are presenting your work abroad, or if we can help you find your way there.

Previously we published an interview with the cultural attaché of the Netherlands in New York: Joost Taverne. Read it here.

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