Dutch Lockdown Protesters Get Creative


January 20, 2022

Venues in the Netherlands temporarily turned themselves into hairdressers and beauty salons in protest at the ongoing shutdown of the sector.

Two barbers set up on the stage of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw concert hall, while a barber and two nail artists tended to visitors at the Van Gogh Museum, reports France24, which says Dutch authorities handed out enforcement notices to a number of venues that took part in the day-long protest.

The stunts came after the country’s live sector’s hopes for a swift reopening were dashed last weekend. While measures were eased for shops and other businesses, the cultural industry remains closed, with a review on reopening venues not now due to take place until 25 January. Music venues have been closed and events banned since a lockdown was imposed on 19 December.


“We do not understand and there is no reasoning for it because we have shown over the last two years that it’s very, very safe to go to a concert or to go to a museum,” said Simon Reinink, director of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw concert hall. “Actually, it’s our profession — crowd management. We know how to deal with large crowds. And we’ve done it in a very, very safe way.”

Culture minister Gunay Uslu tweeted: “The cultural sector draws attention to their situation in a creative way. I understand the cry for help and that artists want to show all the beautiful things they have to offer us. But the opening of society must go step by step. Culture is high on the agenda.”

On 11 September last year, an estimated 150,000 people across 10 cities took part in the second Unmute Us protest on to demand the immediate restart of major events. The march was the largest-ever protest in the Netherlands, more than doubling the attendance of the first demonstration on 21 August which drew 70,000.

Yesterday (19 January), the taskforce for the cultural and creative sector presented its opening and recovery plan to the cabinet and the house of representatives.

The plan outlines six proposals to get out of the crisis in a “flexible and resilient way”, including a roadmap that describes how events can go ahead safely for each risk level of the pandemic. Detailing what the cultural sector needs to recover from the crisis, it calls for emergency support to reach all parts of the cultural chain.

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