Building up Amare with Irene Kovács

“Amare is going to be the best for everyone – Irene Kovacs, Head of Development & Relationship Management

Sooner or later, all friends and supporters of Amare will likely make the acquaintance of Irene Kovács. As Head of Development & Relationship Management, she and her team are building Amare’s Development branch. But what exactly does this Development entail? And why does Amare need support? We asked Kovács about Amare’s big ambitions.

Could you briefly tell us how you ended up at Amare?
“I have a broad commercial background in the international business world (at Nike, among others), working in sports marketing, event marketing, sponsoring and sales. I switched to the cultural sector in 2013 when I was offered a job as development manager at the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. I had a wonderful time there: I come from a family of musicians and have an affinity with classical music, so the job was a perfect fit. In 2016, I found my way to Zuiderstrandtheater. Up until then, fundraising was something that only Residentie Orkest and Nederlands Dans Theater engaged in; Zuiderstrandtheater’s fund was still very much in its infancy. I relished the challenge of setting it all up, and now I’m part of a three-man team working hard on Amare’s behalf.”

Can you explain what Development is all about?
“Development essentially means that we are creating and utilising opportunities to generate money from the business sector, funds and private individuals. We develop and market concepts for diverse target demographics. This helps strengthen Amare’s financial base and makes it possible to book exceptional international performers, for example. Or to develop and support social projects. We want to be a platform and to link up with different parties. I have found that culture is a great tool for that, because it’s so broad.

Development is actually a fairly new discipline in the world of culture. People generally talk about ‘fundraising’, but development is much wider in scope. We don’t just look at what we find important, but also at the business opportunities we can offer to companies and private individuals. It’s about reciprocity, which means that we creatively think along with the parties we encounter, to see how we can benefit each other. We create a partnership together and seek ways to flesh this out for the long term. By doing so we are fulfilling an important role for Amare. We’re making sure to create real collaborations and bonds.”

Why does Amare need support?
“Of course we receive an annual subsidy from the municipal government and generate income through ticket sales, which covers a large part of our expenses. But if you really want to be a venue of and for the city, you’re going to need more money than that. Our goal is to serve everyone in The Hague and to attract a new and diverse audience. We want to be a home for all the cultures and all the people in the city. And we want to attract the world’s top orchestras and dance companies. To realise that vision and mission, Amare needs support.”

How can people support Amare?
“There are various ways to participate. One way is to join the Amare Member Club, which is a platform that enables businesses to meet each other. Amare Members also have access to exclusive experiences and can treat their business contacts, employees or themselves to a unique night out. We make sure that every visit becomes an unforgettable experience and provide high-end service from start to finish.

We also have a programme called Social Seats. The goal of this programme is to offer tickets to people who would normally be less likely to visit the theatre for just €5. These are people whose upbringing never involved this kind of culture, for example, or who simply don’t have the money to spend on a night at the theatre. Businesses can contribute to this programme and help us offer these tickets. And there are plenty of other options, such as product presentations. A car brand could for example launch a new model in Amare, in conjunction with a stage performance.

Private individuals can also contribute to Amare. Possibilities include once-off donations, private membership of the Amare Membership club, or having a hall or series of concerts named after you. These options are always tailored to the individual and highly personalised.”

What is that little bit extra that Amare offers?
“We think that above all, Amare’s service and hospitality should be top-quality and personal. And our department makes sure of that. From the moment people enter our parking garage to the moment they leave the building, we want to make them feel welcome and to guarantee them the best service. Members of the Amare Member Club always have a fixed contact person at Amare, and if you let us know when you want to visit with your guests, we will make sure that your evening is completely and fully catered, with absolutely everything taken care of. On top of that, there is a yearly Members Only Night where members can meet all the other partners of Amare and its  resident companies. 

We will also be offering young professionals a stage and finding more ways to connect with economic themes that are important for The Hague, like ‘The Hague as an impact city’. We also want to organise sessions similar to TED talks that people can visit on, say, Friday afternoons to meet and chat with like-minded people over refreshments. We’re really trying to offer something interesting for everyone.”

How do you see your role in Amare?
“I bring the varied experience that I built up working in marketing, communication, sponsoring and sales. Thanks to that, I have a good overview of the possibilities from a business perspective, I think. I know what companies are looking for and where their interests currently lie, for example in the area of social entrepreneurship. I also bring a large network, plus my enthusiasm and energy. I’m quick to spot opportunities and can get people excited for Amare, giving them the feeling that this is something to really be a part of. Because I personally really love being able to contribute to Amare.” 

In your opinion, what makes Amare so special?
“I think that Amare is going to be a place where people go to experience the best of the best. From international top orchestras to local initiatives, there’s something for everyone. That’s what’s so special about a city like The Hague. Amare is going to be a place with wide open doors and it will offer the best for everyone. 

What’s very special is that Amare brings together a variety of disciplines and cultural expressions. There’s dance and classical music, but also education. It’s that diversity that makes it so interesting for businesses to get involved. And the location itself is fantastic as well, of course: right in the centre of The Hague, where it all happens! There’s so much we can do with this multifunctional building, culturally but also with respect to conventions, events and partnership development.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to the big international orchestras and dance companies that we can now invite. My ultimate dream, I think, would be for Amare to become the number one venue for everyone, both nationally and internationally. That, say, 15 years from now everyone knows about us and where to find us. So that people feel that any visit to the Netherlands must include visiting Amare.”

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