Cultural sector to defy mayors, opening as hair salons, gyms in lockdown protest
Multiple theaters and museums in the Netherlands will protest on Wednesday against the coronavirus measures that still have the cultural sector closed. About 70 Dutch theaters and concert halls will be converted into hair salons, massage studious, or beauty salons, where performances are also held for the Hair Salon Theater campaign. Several mayors announced that they do not give permission for the protest and will enforce the coronavirus rules.
In Hair Salon Thater, an initiative of Diederik Ebbinge and Sanne Wallis de Vries, customers are entertained by artists such as Jochem Myjer, Claudia de Breij, and Youp van 't Hek while they are getting a haircut or other treatment. This is because hairdressers were allowed to reopen this past weekend while the cultural sector remains closed. Participating theaters include the Parktheater in Eindhoven, Theater Orpheus in Apeldoorn, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
The mayor of the capital, Femke Halsema, warned the participating cultural institutions that they could expect a visit from enforcers if they open their doors on Wednesday. Nijmegen mayor Hubert Bruls, also the chairman of the Security Council of the mayors that chair the 25 security regions, made the same appeal. Utrecht, The Hague, and Eindhoven, among others, also said they would enforce the rules where necessary.
About 20 museums are offering a once-off sports lesson or other initiatives. For example, a hair salon is opening in the Van Gogh Museum, and the Groninger Museum is organizing a graffiti workshop as a gym lesson for the brain. The Fries Museum will serve as a yoga studio, just like the funeral museum Tot Zover. In addition to yoga, the Limburgs Museum also offers Zumba.
The Museum Association, the initiator of those actions, thinks it makes no sense that the museums still have to be closed while shos are allowed to receive customers again. "In terms of movements, 450 museums bear no relation to the movements of a total of 85,000 physical stores in the Netherlands," according to the museum club.
De Balie debate center in Amsterdam established the Philosophical Society, the Community of Reason, to circumvent the coronavirus rules and open as a religious institution on Wednesday. Director Yoeri Albrecht visited the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday to set up the association that will hold its gatherings in De Balie.
"The Community of Reason is accessible, pragmatic, and inclusive; access is free for everyone," De Balie said in a statement. "In this way, we can also get the performing artists and freelancers who are currently without help back to work." Artists are called upon to come forward. "Obviously, we offer them a fee."
The first guest on Wednesday is Mohamedou Ould Slahi. The Mauritanian was imprisoned for 14 years without being officially charged in the American prison in Cuba, where he was tortured and humiliated. He was supposed to give a lecture in De Balie at the end of October but had to cancel because his work and residence permit application did not come through. That was arranged in November by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND).
Albrecht announced his plans this past weekend. "I don't understand why you can gather in the Veluwe to discuss a 2000-year-old-book but not get together in the heart of Amsterdam to discuss a book from a month ago," he said in the television program WNL Op Zondag.
Visitors' coronavirus access passes will be checked on arrival, and social distancing will be enforced.
The municipality of Amsterdam is investigating whether this construction is legally permitted, a spokesperson for mayor Halsema said when asked.
Reporting by ANP