As I walk into the Jonge Harten office I stumble upon six girls from all over the world energetically brainstorming, whilst overlooking a giant sheet of paper immersed in post-its. This multicultural team has assembled for one goal: To make the international community of Groningen more aware of the fantastically fabulous festival that is Jonge Harten. A cascade of creative ideas flows out of these girls, all accompanied by an infectious ‘write everything down!’ It does not take me long to realize: This year Jonge Harten will be overflown with internationals.
Anasasija (23, Latvia) is the supervisor of this cosmopolitan club, and encourages everyone to think of the most creative ways to promote Jonge Harten. She emphasizes that it can be quite the challenge to reach their audience: ‘The past has shown that international students are not super-inclined to come to Jonge Harten without a bit of a nudge, but when they do come, they enjoy the festival immensely.’
It is the third year for Jonge Harten to aim specifically at reaching international students. And that makes a damn lot of sense, especially considering that every day of the festival, English-speaking or non-verbal performances are showcased. In order to enjoy Jonge Harten, it really doesn’t matter if your Dutch is at the same level as Donald Trump’s modesty. According to the promotion team, the outreach to Groningen’s non-Dutch community also makes sense in light of the disconnect between this community and all of the cultural activities that happen here each and every day. Finja (20, Germany): ‘When you’re new to Groningen, you have no idea that there is so much fun stuff to do over here. So I was very happy to have come across Jonge Harten!’
The aim of the international promotion team is to make Jonge Harten contribute to enriching the international student life. The massive interest that international students already have in theatrical activities is exemplified in the crowds at ‘Stranger Things Have Happened’ or ‘Guts’ shows, or in the waiting lists for English-speaking Usva courses. Heidi (22, Estonia) is convinced that Jonge Harten also has the potential to be a part of Groningen’s multicultural cuisine: ‘Groningen is such a lively and vibrant city. Still, it can be difficult to discover where all of this life is located. That’s why we are going to try and do our best to make people aware of this great festival.’
It does seem like a huge missed opportunity that when you live in Groningen and love theatre, you continue binge-watching Netflix between November 18th and 26th. That is why I for one am extremely happy to see this team try and prevent you from doing that. I won’t spoil what they have in store for you, but I can say: they’ll definitely go off the beaten track.