I graduated in theater some years ago. Taking this info into account, you might think it was easy for me to start following what is going on in the city, theater and performance wise. In fact, it took me the longest time to get acquainted with the field, in the low countries. In the beginning it was all very intimidating.
First thing, there was the language barrier – the two first years of living here I didn’t speak any Dutch. Secondly, there are so many cultural events going on in the city that you literally get lost. Where to start? Third reason: money. Even if paying attention to the offer on the Last Minute Ticket Shop, going to the theater regularly is not the cheapest hobby. It was not until, let’s say, two years ago that my exploration of Amsterdam’s artistic scene seriously commenced. But I’ll get to that later.
I must say that, when I arrived here five years ago, I first got acquainted with all the art-house movie theaters in town, thanks to my Cineville card, a monthly subscription which allowed me to go watch movies everyday for the fabulous price of 19 euros a month. There was a part of me which felt guilty, though. It did, at times, feel like a betrayal to Theater, my first love.
There should be something like that for theater too, I think. This is the moment when I sit and wonder about a cultural membership pass which would give me free access to theater, dance, and performance, by the most relevant companies around. If I made the rules, I would be granted access to a play at the Stadsschouwburg, another one at the Oostblok, a dance show at Paradiso, and two more at the Dansmakers. Oh, and a storytelling at Mediamatic. Everything in the same week. There would be a curated selection of what’s on – like a list of activities for everyday of the month – highlighting the works worth experiencing.
If this sounds too wild a wish for you, I can only reply that one should always dream high. Moreover, if such a deal existed, and a lot of us made use of it, theaters would be full, we would be supporting the culture makers in our city, stimulating them to create more, prices could eventually go down, and culture in all its different shapes would be way more accessible to everyone – similarly to the role Cineville plays, regarding cinema.
Girls and boys, ladies and gents, guess what. This card-thing DOES actually EXIST. And, thanks to it, I am finally surfing the waves of Amsterdam’s cultural ocean. For 15 euros per month ( yes, you read it right – fifteen euros – not even the price of two gin-tonics). The cultural menu I just described is what’s on the program this week, with a plus of concerts, movie screenings, talks, and exhibitions. It is hard to believe, I know.
We Are Public is the organization which is making this happen – everyday of the year – for the benefit of us all: public, cultural institutions, and the city. This is, in fact, a community for the culture optimists out there, who believe we, as public, can have an impact on the cultural landscape of our city. If you reckon with this, take a look at their faqs, get your pass, and let’s go on cultural adventure.
[Dear fellow expats: There are enough events available on We Are Public for the non-Dutch speakers. Still if you want to venture but are unsure your Dutch is advanced enough for a specific performance, you can always go give it a try – the monthly subscription remains the same no matter how many events you attend. Or perhaps you can work your way through Dutch by means of art – specially if you happen to hate television, like I do.]