Feeding the mainstream
Sometimes it looks like art and cultural institutions are expected to program exclusively for a broad and large audience. At least, they are allowed to practice innovative experiments, but not with money from the community. This maybe seems to be quite logical, but it also represents an underbelly feeling that influences the public opinion since the disproportionate cuts of the budgets for the arts and culture world (2011). Fortunately, there is a changed Dutch government policy, but the "lag effect" on regional level continues and the 200 million euro which was removed from the arts has nog been investeerder again. Everybody understands, not least the people working in the arts and culture world itself, that you should not cause empty theaters, concerthalls and museums, but on the other hand this represents a dilemma which needs attention.
Experiments explore the boundaries of what is accepted by the majority. They are breeding ground for the development of the mainstream. The development of the mainstream needs the avant-garde which keeps it going, otherwise it dries and dies. Let me quote mr. Joop van den Ende, the mainstream producer 'par excellence' in the Netherlands, who at the time of the budget cuts was very angry for this reason. Without the fragile humus layer of innovative experiments mentioned here, there will be no quality implementation and development of popular music compositions, no development of contemporary art in general. Without tantalizing combinations and presentation of heritage and art, our cultural history museums stand still. In short, the 'avant-garde' is essential for the development of art and culture.
Let me finish this short column with a frequently heard comment: the threshold of many museums is too high for the ordinary person. That`s a misunderstanding. I do not believe in the existence of ordinary people actually, but let us keep that aside. Much more important is the realization that you only can see a threshold being low if you have first raised high ones. We have to do with an ongoing quest for which the experiment is essential.