About Theater Zuidplein
Theater Zuidplein Today
We are a vibrant and colourful theatre, especially for the people of Rotterdam who have limited funds. This applies to plenty of people in Rotterdam: around 70% of all Rotterdam inhabitants are in this category. Theater Zuidplein puts the customer first and this is reflected in our slogan
Our theatre programme, the price of our tickets and the high level of service we offer are all targeted at this group of Rotterdam inhabitants with an extremely wide variety of cultural backgrounds who occasionally visit the theatre.
Many of our productions deal with current issues facing society. At Theater Zuidplein the audiences often respond directly to events on stage, which creates a wonderfully vibrant atmosphere. Our theatre presents a wide range of different productions: cabaret, dance, theatre, concerts, youth theatre, children's theatre, matinees for senior citizens, festivals and guest productions.
But a visit to Theater Zuidplein includes a whole lot more! For example, most of our productions also feature additional entertainment, in our theatre café or in our foyers. These range from surprising receptions with actors and musicians or swinging parties before or after the show, featuring live music or a DJ, served with delicious refreshments and drinks from across the world and often accompanied by meet and greet sessions with performers and artistes. Youth and children’s theatre productions are also always accompanied by a variety of educational activities.
We aim to be a real part of the Rotterdam community. This is why we offer much more than theatre productions alone.
In addition, the social values below play an important role in what we do.
1) We feel responsible for the educational opportunities and talent development of young people in Rotterdam.
In practical terms, this means that every year we take on around 50 to 70 students (at all levels of education) for a number of weeks or months and offer them work experience. We are among the largest on-the-job training companies in Rotterdam-Zuid. Theater Zuidplein is also a partner in JINC, a programme subsidised by the city of Rotterdam offering children in the upper years of primary and lower years of (pre-vocational) secondary school the opportunity to take special fast-track internships at our theatre in order to learn about industry and jobs in the world of business. Theater Zuidplein also participates in the JINC job application training project in which young people practice applying for jobs with business professionals at school.
Last but not least: we have our own theatre production company known as ‘Het Rotterdams Open Podium’, which is always on the lookout for new people with a talent for the theatre whom it can support in their career development (see also www.rotterdamsopenpodium.nl).
2) We play an active role, solicited and unsolicited, in art, culture and society in our local area.
We do this by providing advice to local government and related institutions and companies on area development, safety and as a means of promoting culture. For example, we are stakeholders in Hart van Zuid, the city of Rotterdam’s redevelopment area based between Ahoy, Theater Zuidplein, Zuidplein shopping centre, ROC regional training centre Zadkine-Zuid and businesses in the Motorstraat area. This involves sharing our expertise about visitors to the area with other and future partners in the area. We also regularly invite our neighbours (private individuals and businesses) to events as part of our focus on increasing the feeling of safety. In alliance with Roteb, we are also running the “clean, intact and safe” (“schoon, heel en veilig”) campaign in the immediate vicinity of the theatre. We have a chaperone service for the members of the theatre audience who are afraid to walk alone to their car or bus at the Zuidplein after shows. Based on its conviction that you are society and society is you, Theater Zuidplein feels it has a stake in the future plans of Hart van Zuid. As such, Theater Zuidplein aims to ensure that visitors, users and residents in the area are given regular pleasant surprises as compensation for the potential inconvenience during the period of redevelopment which will last for many years. Within the new Hart van Zuid, a new arts centre will be developed, which will include Theater Zuidplein and a major branch of the Rotterdam public library. The time schedule for the new arts development is as yet unknown.
3) We make a major contribution to city marketing in Rotterdam.
We are regularly approached from the Netherlands and abroad to share our expertise on diversity policy and change management at specialist congresses and to an increasing extent with institutions and the business community. This is confirmation of the hands-on mentality in the city of Rotterdam, which has traditionally been a city with an ability to anticipate the changing world around it. The innovative and ground-breaking productions and new theatre genres that have been initiated and developed in our theatre in recent years are increasingly beginning to tour around other cities in the Netherlands. All of these productions are: “Made in Theater Zuidplein - Rotterdam”.
Theater Zuidplein’s national ground-breaking and innovative policy
We are an ambitious theatre and primarily opt to stage productions that relate to current issues in society aimed at an audience of people who are not regular theatre-goers. In recent years, we have been highly successful in attracting new audiences thanks to our innovative policy that puts the customer first. This has resulted in a significant improvement in our image among the general public, colleagues in the industry, the business community and subsidising agencies.
Among our counterparts in the Netherlands and Europe, national and local government agencies consider us to be ground-breaking and innovative when it comes to diversity policy. Thanks to our innovative programming and marketing and highly-developed staffing policy, we have proved successful in attracting new target audiences to our theatre. The audiences we attract include 50% young people (from various cultural backgrounds), 25% adults from Rotterdam with a multiple cultural background (Dutch combined with Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese, Antillean, Cape Verdean, Chinese, etc.) and 25% adults from Rotterdam of solely Dutch cultural background. Our audiences, 50% of whom come from Rotterdam and 50% from the Rijnmond area see our theatre as hospitable, lively, creative, young and for everyone. In 2008, we were awarded the Koploperstop award by Minister Plasterk for our innovative policy. We are regularly invited to speak at national and European conferences and share our expertise in this field with others.
Our repertory company: the RWT
We work in close cooperation with the RWT (‘Rotterdams Wijktheater’ or Rotterdam Community-based Theatre). This professional repertory company has been staging performances for and by the inhabitants of Rotterdam neighbourhoods since 1992. Their mission is to interest new audience groups in theatre (www.rotterdamswijktheater.nl). This closely reflects our own objectives. On 1 January 2008, our alliance became even closer as the RWT became Theater Zuidplein’s own repertory company. As a result, there is a major joint auditorium production every two years produced exclusively for Theater Zuidplein and all the RWT smaller auditorium productions can also be seen at Theater Zuidplein. This leads to a further crossover of new audience groups from both theatres. In addition, there is a ground-breaking International Community Art Festival, an RWT initiative held in our theatre every three years.
Key figures Theater Zuidplein and the Zuidplein area
We have two theatre auditoriums (seating 585 and 166), as well as a theatre café with a small stage. In 2011, we organised 465 events, including 314 performances, 71 primarily educational activities and 80 other cultural and commercial events. In 2011, the total number of visitors was 82,558. The average audience was 70.3% of maximum capacity. A total of 53 students completed their internship or graduation assignment in our on-the-job training company. This makes us one of Rotterdam’s largest on-the-job training companies.
Some statistics on the area in which we are based: the Zuidplein
We have been based at the Zuidplein since 1954 in what is known as the Hart van Zuid. With 33 million people changing bus, train, tram or metro here every year, it is one of the Netherlands’ busiest squares/public transport hubs. Hart van Zuid is also home to the Zuidplein shopping centre, Netherlands’ largest covered shopping centre, which has 12 million visitors every year. We are just 300 m away from one of the largest events centres in the Netherlands, Ahoy, which attracts 2.5 million visitors every year. Just 400 m away, is one of Rotterdam’s largest centres for secondary vocational education: ROC Zadkine, location Zuid. We are 300 m away from a major regional hospital: the Ikazia hospital. In short: an extremely dynamic, but also highly confusing and chaotic urban environment.
In 2011, the Rotterdam city executive decided to redevelop the Hart van Zuid. In the new Hart van Zuid, the city of Rotterdam aims to create a central area where the people of Rotterdam can enjoy living, working, doing business and relaxing: a meeting place for residents, entrepreneurs and visitors in the only remaining city district in the Netherlands where the population is getting younger. The city is unable to finance this development alone and will therefore be entering into a public-private partnership (PPP). Within a PPP, the government and market players work together to develop the area. The city of Rotterdam has its own vision for Hart van Zuid and will therefore set a number of preconditions. It will then ask the market players to compile a plan. It seems likely that the city of Rotterdam will launch a competition in order to choose the market player with the best area plan in late 2012/early 2013. The market player will then develop the plan further and start implementation at a later date (probably starting from 2017). The new Hart van Zuid is expected to have its own new arts centre. This will be home to Theater Zuidplein and a large branch of Rotterdam public library. After 60 years, Theater Zuidplein was ready for a new building. It is still unclear when this new building will actually be built. The total redevelopment of the Hart van Zuid area is expected to take around 20 years.
History of Theater Zuidplein
Theater Zuidplein was built in 1954 in Rotterdam-Zuid based on a design by architect Van Ravensteijn, who also designed Rotterdam Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp). Immediately after its construction, the theatre took pride of place at the end of Pleinweg and was surrounded by green meadows. It was directly opposite Brabants Dorp, an emergency village complex (1941 to 1967), consisting of 525 homes in streets named after places in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant, which was built to provide shelter for the people of Rotterdam made homeless by the war.
In its early years, the theatre, which was then still known as “the Great Theatre” (“Groote Schouwburg”) in homage to the theatre in the centre of Rotterdam lost during the war, attracted as many as 100,000 people from Rotterdam, the islands of Zuid-Holland and Zeeland and the region of Dordrecht. It was a truly regional theatre in which all the leading names from Dutch theatre and the music and cabaret world came to perform. In 1978, we were given our current name “Theater Zuidplein”, following the major reconstruction work that enabled the theatre to fulfil its role as a regional theatre even more effectively.
During these years, the port of Rotterdam underwent rapid development. There was plenty of work, much of it in dirty conditions. These jobs proved of little interest to the local indigenous population, which is why migrant workers were employed instead. The first of these came from Portugal and Italy, followed later by people from Turkey, Morocco, Suriname, the Antilles and Cape Verde. Of course, these migrant workers needed somewhere to live. Because they were often low-paid, they moved into low-cost, older rented accommodation. The increasing prosperity led to rapid growth in Rotterdam’s population and along with it a growing desire among people to build a future for their families. The towns in the surrounding area began to build a variety of new neighbourhoods and later even new theatres. Many people moved there from Rotterdam. Some moved because they felt less at home in their neighbourhood and city because of the arrival of the many newcomers to Rotterdam. In the houses they left behind, more new migrant workers came to live. However, these migrant workers did not take their places in our theatre. So in the previous decades, Rotterdam had changed enormously, but the theatre audiences in Rotterdam-Zuid had yet to change. As a result, audience numbers at Theater Zuidplein were in permanent decline.
At the end of the 1990s, the city of Rotterdam commissioned us also to include theatre productions and concerts in our programme for the new people of Rotterdam. After a number of pioneering years, we can now justifiably call ourselves the theatre for all the people of Rotterdam who have limited funds. The theatre is now deeply rooted in Rotterdam’s community and especially in Rotterdam-Zuid.