Patrick de Groote

interviewed 21 July 2016 in Antwerp —

Rather than a festival, they call it 'a summer'. Running for ten weeks, Zomer van Antwerpen starts when Antwerp's theatres close for the holidays in June and ends just as they reopen in August. The shows that are programmed play for the whole summer, or close to it, for 8-10 weeks, and always in site-specific locations — a choice that allows the Zomer team 'to go towards the audience' and involve local groups. Founded in 1995, Zomer is still making improvements to its format. In 2010, identifying a lack of young people among their audience demographic, the organisers converted the site of a disused gasworks into a new Urban Hall, and in five years the festival's share of audience members under 26 went from 5% to 35%. Recently they converted one of the buildings on the site into the Zero Star Hotel, providing no-frills and very cheap accommodation for visiting audience members (and Antwerp citizens who never want to go home).

Key Ideas
Reaching a wider audience
Venues + Festivals
Building Audiences
Programming long runs and giving the audience time to grow
Venues + Festivals
Building Audiences
Making Zomer Van Antwerpen a festival for everyone
Venues + Festivals
Building Audiences