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Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano

I have borrowed Walter Laqueur’s vivid metaphor of the Weimar Republic for the title of a keynote address I shall be giving next week to the Dutch Classical Music Meeting 2011 (see video here).

An alarmist would be hard-pressed to exaggerate the difficulties facing classical music in the coming year – collapsing economies, reduced subsidies and an audience more fragile than ever before. Nowhere is the outlook darker than in Holland, where the government is threatening cuts of up to 60 percent and the Minister of Culture is reported to have said that, before taking office, she has never been inside an art gallery.

So what can I say to encourage a depressed and bewildered sector? Actually, quite a lot. I believe this is a time of tremendous opportunity for the arts to break out of their buildings and find new audiences. The Dutch themselves have found a slot for topical, one-minute operas on primetime television – this one about the anti-Islam party leader Geert Wilders, by Michel van der Aa.

I have a number of examples of contemporary initiatives that I will be demonstrating. If you have more instances, please let me have them – preferably with video – so that we can send people home from Amsterdam smiling.

Mark Salwowski: Dancing on the Volcano Comic Art  picture:  Mark Salwowski: Dancing on the Volcano

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