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The recommendation of the Long-range Policy Plan 2013-2016 Advisory Committee on NDT subsidy request
NEDERLANDS DANS THEATER
Performing on national and international stages across the world, Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) is a renowned contemporary dance company with an international reputation for its high-quality dance productions. In order to achieve the highest level of artistic excellence, the company works with skilled dancers and leading house and guest choreographers. NDT is the Lucent Danstheater’s permanent dance company, consisting of NDT 1 and NDT 2 in which dancers are grouped according to age and experience. NDT boasts an education department that provides around 90 educational workshops a year, both in the Netherlands and abroad. In addition, NDT has developed an annual talent development programme called Switch. NDT’s Up&Coming Choreographers programme is organised every two years. Recently, a new artistic director and managing director have been appointed.
NDT’s ambition for the period 2013-2016 is to strengthen its leading position as contemporary dance company. The company will continue to be committed to the preservation, promotion and dissemination of the Netherlands’ dance heritage by performing dance repertoire by, amongst others, Jirí Kylián, Hans van Manen, Paul Lightfoot and Sol León (who together form the DNA of NDT). In addition, the management would also like to focus more on innovative artistic development. Each season, NDT intends to bring nine new creations to the stage. Even more so than before, NDT wants to build social connections: long-term relationships with the outside world on the basis of custom-made products. Cultural education, including the education of the public, will receive more attention and will be expanded. The distinction between NDT 1 and NDT 2 will be extended to more areas. The top group, NDT 1, will focus on innovation and be responsible for large productions, performing works by top choreographers. A number of NDT 1 dancers will be given the opportunity to create choreographies as part of a talent development programme created together with KORZO. NDT 2 will be profiled as talent development group for both dancers and promising new choreographers. In addition, NDT 2 will be responsible for smaller-scale dance productions to be staged at, for example, Theater a/h Spui.
As far as NDT’s marketing and communication activities are concerned, we would like to join forces with KORZO, Theater a/h Spui, Holland Dance Festival (HDF), Den Haag Marketing, and the Lucent Danstheater’s guest programming.
NDT has been granted a subsidy of € 1,935,381 (2011 price level) within the framework of the Long-range Policy Plan for Art and Culture 2009-2012.
For the period 2013-2016, NDT is applying for an annual subsidy of € 1,935,381.
In the Committee’s opinion, The Hague can still be proud of Nederlands Dans Theater’s leading position at international level. The Committee is aware of the fact that this position has come under pressure in the last few years, in part due to change in artistic management and growing competition from a number of foreign dance companies that have adopted a style similar to that of NDT. The Committee therefore subscribes to the analysis in the submitted plan that NDT can and must raise its profile in a distinguishing way by devoting renewed attention to experimentation, innovation and talent development. The newly-appointed management seems to take this challenge to heart as is evident from the plan’s renewed élan. The application reveals the clear intent of NDT to focus more strongly on artistic renewal, social connections, cultural education, enlisting support and talent development. However, a concrete elaboration of how to realise these ambitions is lacking. The Committee hopes and assumes that the new management will put words into action. Furthermore, the artistic choices are also not formulated in concrete terms. The Committee expects the new artistic director to use his leadership, network of contacts, charisma and communicative and artistic skills to strengthen and preserve NDT’s position as well as to foster commitment and a pioneering spirit, as outlined in general terms in the plan.
The Committee supports NDT’s plans to develop a more distinctive profile, goal and repertoire for NDT 1 and NDT 2, and foresees that a more flexible structure for NDT 2 will bring many opportunities.
In addition, the plan shows a strong willingness to cooperate which, according to the Committee, is a positive and necessary development. The Committee is very pleased with the intended intensive partnership with KORZO in the specialist field of talent development and guidance, and the mutual financial agreements that have been made. However, in some areas the intended cooperation still needs to be fleshed out in greater detail. For example, the Committee expects NDT and the Holland Dance Festival to – in addition to the intentions listed in the plan – arrive at profitable agreements in relation to cultural education and audience development.
NDT’s marketing and communication policy is a source of concern for the Committee because it is lagging behind in terms of what may be expected on the basis of the administrative expenses. The Committee believes it is desirable, possible and necessary that the participating parties from the Lucent Danstheater/Dr. Anton Philipszaal cooperate more efficiently and effectively in terms of marketing, communication and audience development.
NDT has stated that it intends to generate more engagement for The Hague. The Committee hopes that NDT will indeed make every effort to do so. According to the Committee, there are numerous chances and opportunities to take advantage of, since The Hague will continue to promote itself as dance city. It is, however, essential that the collaborating parties in a dance network invest time and effort into this process.
The envisaged multi-year international partnerships with BRIC countries is seen by the Committee as an attractive opportunity. NDT’s ambitions on cultural entrepreneurship are also promising, but still lack substance. The arguments for NDT’s expected growth in revenue lack sufficient substantiation and the figures seem to be too optimistic. The Committee is not happy with the fact that – despite NDT’s ambition to generate engagement for The Hague – the number of theatre visits in The Hague is expected to drop in the coming period, in both relative and absolute terms. The Committee wonders what the reasoning behind this expectation is. The administrative expenses, the large top chunk of the pyramid, are high compared to the activity expenses. In addition, not enough insight is given into these expenses. In a number of areas, such as education, ambitions and feasibility need to be better balanced.
Last but not least, the Committee is of the opinion that NDT should consider the retirement schedule of the Supervisory Board in more detail. The Committee hopes and expects that The Hague’s top dance company can achieve its ambitions, and advises the Municipality of The Hague to give NDT the opportunity to do so by granting the requested subsidy.
Approve subsidy request for € 1,935,381.
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