Slowly but surely, the cultural sector is climbing out of the covid slump. Alumni from three cohorts of HKU Theatre are supported in this by an initiative that was launched in November: De Utrechtse Lichting (‘The Utrecht Cohort’). Spatial designer and curator Trudy Hekman is guiding the participants. ‘I strongly draw on my own practical experience as entrepreneur.’
‘I am at the centre in the web of partners and involved alumni. In this role, I ensure that everyone gets the same information. I detect the needs of the creators and report this back to the cooperating partners.’
Up in smoke
Those partners are Het Huis Utrecht, Theater Kikker and HKU Theatre. Last November, they issued an open call for receiving 5000 euros of local grants to support three cohorts of HKU Theatre, namely the graduates of 2019, 2020, and 20221. Trudy: ‘During the covid crisis, many of their career opportunities went up in smoke. Within De Utrechtse Lichting, ten of their selected projects can now still be brought to the stage.
The HKU alumni who responded to the open call, had to demonstrate they have a clear connection with the city of Utrecht as well as a personal voice and message. Trudy: ‘They also had to have the ambition to create an interdisciplinary performance. The subsequent selection was made on the basis of their plan’s artistic quality, feasibility, and diversity in terms of culture, artistry and educational backgrounds. The selected initiatives are a true cross-over, representing all courses of HKU Theatre, along with an alumnus from Musician 3.0.’
Photo: Humphrey Daniëls
Trudy has noticed that the consequences of corona for creators like these are still underestimated. ‘The issue is twofold. Firstly, they haven’t had any chance of showing themselves on stage to the audiences. Secondly, they’ve been away from the places where they used to meet each other and share their creative ideas. In 2020, many graduates could not even present their graduation projects in a live setting. Their recovery process is therefore still in full swing. An initiative such as De Utrechtse Lichting plays an important part in this.’
Along with a stage opportunity, De Utrechtse Lichting is also supporting these projects by coaching. Trudy: ‘Het Huis Utrecht has lots of in-house knowledge that is useful for the workshops we are organizing for the participants. Here we explore all sorts of practical questions. How to pitch your work? How to have a follow-up conversation with a potential programmer? How to discuss your performance with the technicians? And how do you successfully apply for a grant’?
‘My other activities are, for example, explaining to the creators how they should communicate with theatres. There are procedural forms for this that they can simply borrow and adjust. Alumni always have lots of questions about the business aspect, such as dealing with value-added tax. We put such topics on the workshop agenda. I strongly draw on my own experiences as an entrepreneur, trying to pass on the lessons I learned in the last 12 years as well as I can. With the other project members from Het Huis Utrecht and Theater Kikker doing the same.’