‘The whole of Europe is changing, except Groningen.’
For a long time this was the city’s image of itself: a static place, home to white, middle-class, moderately progressive, Dutch-speaking people.
In reality the population of this city, nestled in the rural north of the Netherlands, is growing and changing rapidly. People are coming to live in the city from across the world, drawn by the university and colleges, major businesses and new creative start-ups.
The international background of these new inhabitants does not fit with the city’s traditional image. And their relationship with Groningen is very different to that of past residents.
In an act of artistic exchange, Grand Theatre will invite local people to live in its building while artists take residence in their homes for up to three weeks at a time.
Artists and local people alike will be encouraged to engage with their new surroundings and neighbours. The artists will create work and lead public debate reflecting on the image of the city and the diversifying identities of its inhabitants.
Grand Theatre is an iconic producing theatre, situated on the central ‘Grote Markt’ in Groningen. Originally built as a cinema in the 1930s, the building fell into disuse in the 1970s before being reclaimed as a theatre space in the 1980s. An extensive refit in the 1990s contributed to the modern characterization of the Grand Theatre as ‘the most beautiful and charismatic black box space in the country’.
For thirty years the theatre has been presenting and producing work by emerging independent artists, such as Sacha Waltz, Ea Sola and Constanza Macras. It has also been closely involved in the successful development of many of the North Netherlands’ most significant artists and artistic ventures, including the Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival, Club Guy & Roni dance company, and PeerGrouP theatre company in Drenthe.
The theatre aims to bring together international and regional artists, and combines producing with presenting strategies. It is currently working towards a significant community development programme that will engage young adults.