Dear Jan Jambon, Minister-President of the Flemish Government and Flemish Minister of Culture,
Dear members of the Flemish Government,
We, the undersigned, want to express our concern about the fact that the continued existence of the largest theatre company in Flanders is under dire threat. We are convinced that Antwerp cannot do without a big theatre platform. A vibrant municipal theatre in Antwerp is also indispensable for new, ambitious artists. The company must be able to continue touring theatres in Flanders and the Netherlands as well as much further abroad with generous productions for the large stage and a broad audience.
We hereby endorse the stated desire of Olympique Dramatique, FC Bergman and Lisaboa Houbrechts to continue making their acclaimed productions and the company’s resolve to offer every opportunity to new theatre makers like Gorges Ocloo and Benjamin Abel Meirhaeghe and the many guest artists.
The field needs major players like Toneelhuis in order to have a healthy artistic ecosystem. The Bourla Theatre is an iconic venue for scores of other companies, young theatre makers and music groups. A large part of the artistic budget goes to supporting the work of other Flemish companies and artists through collaborative projects and co-productions.
Theatres are not isolated islands in a city or a region. They are connected by many invisible threads with one another, with other art institutes, with schools, with social organisations, with cafés and restaurants. They provide recreation and reflection, but also permanent and temporary employment. All told, artists and cultural workers counted together, Toneelhuis annually employs some 150 people, from the stage to the set studio, from the administration to the technical department, from the educational department to the box office.
The discontinuation of Flemish government investment in Toneelhuis would mean the end of a wealth of theatre work, expertise, networks and experience, and the end of a vibrant artistic meeting place. This must be prevented. For us, the idea that Toneelhuis could cease to exist is inconceivable.
We are confident, Mr Minister of Culture, that you will do everything in your power to safeguard the future of Toneelhuis.