Arts and culture

What was the challenge for this project?

The Herman van Veen Arts Centre in Soest in The Netherlerlands is situated on an old estate. This arts and culture centre was established in 2012 and is an initiative of Dutch artist and performer Herman van Veen and his long-time guitarist, Edith Leerkens.

Culture and nature come together here and merge. For example, the listed mansion on the estate exhibits paintings by Herman van Veen, there are nature activities for children and adults in a freely accessible park, and an old field barn is home to a small theatre. The venue has 80 seats and offers a platform for young artists who want to combine theatre, music and dance.

How is the approach of the project innovative?

No tickets are for sale for performances in the Arts Centre’s theatre; at least, not in advance. Anyone who wants to attend a performance can simply drop by. And this is how people get to know the estate and discover what other activities are on offer, such as exhibitions.

This innovative concept makes the Arts Centre a personal experience. It does not focus on the anonymous ‘theatre consumer’ who buys tickets online, but on people who are receptive to surprises and encounters. People who wish to support the Arts Centre can become a friend and stay connected for a longer time.

What impact does Triodos Bank have on this project?

The relationship between Triodos Bank and the Arts Centre goes back several years already. Right from the centre’s start, the bank has been in discussions about the funding and running of the estate. And in 2016, the bank provided a mortgage to acquire the old mansion, a national monument.

In this, Triodos Bank and the Triodos Cultural Fund – each of which provided half of the funding – joined forces with the Dutch national restoration Fund (Nationaal Restauratiefonds). The Fund is responsible for financing the restoration of the building, which houses exhibition, office and work space. Following restoration in 2017, it will also serve as a venue for receptions, dinners and business meetings.

What impact does the project have on the sector?

The Arts Centre offers young, artistic talent an opportunity and, in this way, contributes to the further development of the cultural sector. The focus is specifically on artists who combine different genres, which fits in with the versatility of Herman van Veen himself.

The centre also demonstrates the added value of organising cultural events at a location characterised by nature. Indoors and outdoors are combined. The tranquillity of nature outside inspires the shows and other activities inside. In addition, theatre performances are also staged partly outdoors.

What impact does the project have on society?

The Herman van Veen Arts Centre inspires, and in many ways. It is a beautiful place where exciting things happen. It has a specific focus on children. For example, there are treasure hunts through the woods on the estate. And it is home to the little house of Alfred J. Kwak: the little duckling that gained worldwide fame partly through a 52-part television series.

The attention on children is deliberate. Herman van Veen is a champion of children’s rights and patron of the Lot’s Foundation, which promotes children’s rights across the globe.

How does the project share the vision of Triodos Bank?

Triodos Bank contributes towards a society with quality of life. The Herman van Veen Arts Centre is doing the same in many different ways; through the cultural activities staged there, but also through the centre’s contribution to the conservation and development of nature’s values.

The centre is also breathing new life into the old mansion on the estate. The centre, the bank and the Nationaal Restauratiefonds together make it possible to preserve this national monument of significant cultural and historical value.