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But that’s not the case at Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018, where the empowerment of local grassroots networks is already having a permanent effect on the cultural landscape.

It didn’t make any difference, but there are still people lobbying for the decision to be overturned. Both for your city and for your sense of being European.’ And I hope they’ll come.” When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.“The mayor of Leeuwarden is sending a letter to the UK bid cities to say: ‘You’re still welcome. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts. Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account.Given just 11 months and an ever dwindling pot of funds to prove themselves in the public eye, European Capitals of Culture are entrusted by the European Commission to increase their profile as cultural hubs while also bringing measurable social, economic and urban regeneration benefits to their region.It’s the sort of thing we tend to associate with glitzy, unsustainable projects – opera in the main square, soft rock in the park (or the de rigueur amphitheatre), improbable community/avant-garde theatre in the suburbs.In Global Citizens of the Voorstreek, a theatremaker and journalist collaborate on a multimedia work about a part of Leeuwarden where many different nationalities live.

“As a community, these people are almost hidden within the Capital of Culture,” says Woolgar. If that’s what theatre does, then it works.” “In retrospect we would have put Strangers on Stage as a focused festival rather than spreading it through the year.While cities of culture are often associated with grand international theatre productions, Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018’s programme is championing local artists and attracting audiences to shows in unconventional venues across the region, as its co-artistic leader tells Nick Awde The sleepy polders of Friesland on the edge of the North Sea may seem an unlikely setting for a European Capital of Culture.But, as the centre of this picturesque, somewhat neglected, province in the north of the Netherlands, Leeuwarden is revolutionising the way we look at culture.“It’s built on the process of talking to people and finding out what’s important to them, and the direct translation of that into cultural events.What this means is an enormous commitment from a huge range of people, which proves to be vitally important for legacy.” The bottom-up programming means that events are spread across non-traditional sites throughout Friesland – which lacks an extensive network of conventional venues – using a model that seeks out and seeds local producers and companies who then source alternative ways of funding.That sort of thinking is much more likely to have long-term impact,” says Woolgar.