(c) Anne Reitsma

A chat with director Jan Zoet

In September 2021, Amare will open its doors: a new cultural centre on Spui in The Hague. With four grand halls and a surface area of seven and a half football fields, it promises to be the ultimate place to experience theatre, dance, concerts and other outstanding performing arts. Amare will be home to Zuiderstrandtheater, the Residentie Orkest, Nederlands Dans Theater and the Royal Conservatoire. But above all, it will also be a home for all of The Hague.

It was in 2009 that the City of The Hague decided to replace the Dr. Anton Philipszaal and the Lucent Danstheater with a new building. After much deliberation, construction on Amare finally began in June 2017. It is to be a sustainable, cutting-edge building, and a place that is open to developments worldwide. A place for the performing arts in the heart of The Hague. Sanne Bakker talks to Amare director Jan Zoet about his vision for the new cultural centre.

I Am, We Are, Amare

“Amare should be a place where everyone feels at home,” director Jan Zoet explains. “Citizens of The Hague, musicians, dancers, students, visitors and of course our staff. As organisation, we have the important duty to make sure that the biggest and most beautiful arts centre in the Netherlands really belongs to everyone. It’s built into the name: AMARE: I AM, WE ARE. It is not without reason that we want to roll out a unique city project in all of the city’s neighbourhoods under the title of WIJ Den Haag (WE The Hague) in the coming spring already, in fact. Art and culture have meaning and impact – all the more so in times of change like these. That goes for every resident of The Hague, the Netherlands and the world.

 The ambition is for Amare to set a new standard for what an arts centre can be. “It’s not just some shared business complex. If anything, it’s a people’s palace for music and dance from all cultures and traditions. We really want to be a home for the whole of The Hague, where we and the artists of this city team up to turn it into a lively and enjoyable place.” explains Jan Zoet.

Top-notch institutions

Whatever challenges we may face, it won’t be because of the other tenants, Zoet states. “The Residentie Orkest is a top-quality orchestra that actively seeks to engage with new developments. Its musicians are open to influences from around the world. Nederlands Dans Theater has been one of the world’s leading dance companies for decades, and is still as energetic and curious as ever, especially when it comes to finding out what the city has to offer in terms of dance and movement. The Royal Conservatoire is the Netherlands’ oldest conservatorium, as well as a laboratory of innovation and quality for the music of the twenty-first century. And soon, they’ll all be sharing one roof.”

Diverse and inclusive

Wonder, imagination and creativity: for Zoet, these are the keywords for the centre’s programming. “But it won’t just be big productions on the stage. Small initiatives and special festivals are what create dynamism and diversity. Together with PAARD, we want to make Amare into an important venue for pop music. There will be room for jazz, club and hip-hop, for music and dance from around the city and the world, so that we can keep drawing different audiences. For instance by organising northern Europe’s only Gnawa festival; Gnawa being an important Moroccan musical and spiritual tradition. This festival will even draw visitors from England and Germany to The Hague, and the resulting encounters between audience members really fits the international city of The Hague. We have already taken major strides in this direction in the past years with our City Programme, making our programming more diverse and more inclusive.”