New director announces revamped Holland Festival

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Amsterdam's annual Holland Festival will feature a new slate of programming to help shed its image as an "elitist" event. The 68th edition of the festival, running from May 30 to June 23, is the first to take place under the leadership of Ruth Mackenzie. The new British head takes over the reigns from Pierre Audi, who led the festival's artistic direction for the last ten years.

Mackenzie says she seeks to break old rules and find fresh ideas to reach a new audience. "I want to commit myself to breaking through the barriers that keep people from loving art," she said in an interview with Het Parool on Tuesday. She added that the festival will offer free or very low-priced performances. "People respond to quality. So if you say that art is elitist, I say, people love it!" The new programming include a 12-hour concert series, a live-stream opening party with DJs and a campaign to save endangered musical instruments, with special focus on the bassoon. A total of 45 productions will feature 99 performances in music, dance, opera and theater. One of the 12-hour concerts is PROM, inspired by the English Proms at Royal Albert Hall in London. Mackenzie says part of the appeal is that the public will be able to roam freely and move with the music. There will also be beds in the public space, where visitors can lie down with an actress, and "let themselves be taken back to childhood," Mackenzie told Het Parool. The festival will also have a special focus on Turkey, with a Turkish themed opening event scheduled for May 30.