In conversation with Leonie Smit about Nice To Meet You

Premiere of community opera Maduro © De Schaapjesfabriek

Wouldn’t it be great if literally every person in The Hague had the opportunity to experience the magic of a live concert or theatre show? ‘Nice To Meet You’ is a new initiative by Amare that makes discounted tickets available through various partners. We talked to Leonie Smit, Account Manager Development & Relations Management, about her role in this socially engaged programme. 

Would you like to introduce yourself?
“My name is Leonie Smit and I work for Amare’s department of Development & Relations Management. We develop concepts and partnerships that enable companies and private parties to associate themselves with Amare. Through a separate support foundation, we create an additional funding flow to help Amare achieve its ambitions, such as staging special programmes and the goal of turning Amare into a home for the whole city of The Hague. 

The Amare Member Club, our platform for companies, is growing steadily, and so is our group of Amare Friends. The Nice to meet You programme is also starting to really take off, which I am very pleased with!” 

Leonie Smit
“I joined Amare’s department of Development & Relations Management in March 2020. We develop concepts and partnerships that enable companies and private parties to associate themselves with Amare.”

Can you tell us a bit more about the Nice To Meet You programme?
“Through the Nice To Meet You programme, we make discounted tickets available to people who are not really accustomed to attending a concert or performance. We do so with partners who financially support the programme, and with various partners who are familiar with the target groups such as Quiet Den Haag, and Stichting Open je Hart.

We feel that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the magic of a live concert or theatre show at least once in their life. With Nice to meet You we invite a new and diverse audience to visit Amare where they can enjoy music, a musical, opera, dance, cabaret or a show for children, and perhaps forget their worries for a while.

In consultation with our partners, we look at what else is needed to facilitate their visit to Amare and to offer them a real night out. For instance by organising transportation, offering a tour of the building or a short introduction to the show with drinks, or perhaps sharing a meal in the Stadskantine.”

Why is the Nice To Meet You programme so important?
“There are quite a lot of people for whom a visit to the theatre is daunting, for instance because of physical or emotional hurdles. And some people simply don’t have the money to buy theatre tickets. 

According to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), The Hague is in the top 5 of Dutch cities in terms of the number of financially vulnerable households. We cannot solve this problem, unfortunately, but what we can do is to offer them a wonderful night out and to let them feel that they are important and just as much a part of the city!” 

What has the programme achieved so far?
“We started in September 2022 and have already been able to make nearly 1000 tickets available! We are doing so with organisations that are in touch with the target groups. And we have been receiving some wonderful comments from visitors who came to Amare through Nice To Meet You:

“I had a great night out! I hadn’t been out in 4 years. Thanks so much!”

“It’s been years since I was able to visit the theatre. I’m so happy I could see The Prom tonight! I have always been so passionate about theatre!”

“Now it’s my daughter’s turn to tell the class about visiting a musical. We loved it!”

“The singer has such an incredible voice! I really enjoyed it, sitting among all those chic visitors.” 

“So great! I could even hear the harp and there was so much music that I never heard before!”

“What a beautiful show! I could really relax for a while and get my batteries all charged up again!”

How did you wind up at Amare? And what do you enjoy especially about your work? 
“After several years of working in the financial sector, I wanted to switch to the world that I’m passionate about, which is theatre. What I really like about my work is developing partnerships with companies and organisations that want to be associated with Amare. It’s a great job! And I’m happy to say that lots of companies and private people recognise the importance of culture and wish to support Amare.”

What drives you to commit to this?
“Amare has only just opened and we need to prove ourselves every day, if we are to conquer everybody’s heart and have them embrace Amare. I see so much potential in Amare and I hope that people will see us as an indispensable part of The Hague in a few years from now. And I am eager to contribute to that.

When I see how cultural institutes are being destroyed by war in other countries, it really reminds me to be grateful for having such a splendid house of culture in The Hague, with such varied programmes. It motivates me every day again to help build a house of culture for everyone.”

What has been one of your highlights in Amare?
“In November last year we had a sold-out Concertzaal with the Metropole Orkest featuring Dorona Alberti & Tim Akkerman and The Music from James Bond. This concert had been postponed several times because of the corona pandemic, and it was so wonderful to finally be able to organise this great event for the Amare Member Club.

At the same time we had a group of visitors through Nice To Meet You. It was lovely to see how everyone was enjoying the show and getting carried away by the iconic songs of James Bond movies.”

What’s coming this year?
“In the coming period we are going to keep working on building a successful Amare!” 

Can interested companies or private parties join the Nice To Meet You programme?
“Certainly, they are very welcome indeed! The more sponsors we have, the more people we can invite to enjoy our beautiful and varied programme. We are grateful for every contribution! If people are interested, they can send an email to, attention of Leonie Smit.”

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