Southwest-Friesland is preparing for the arrival of thousands of European “At the Watergate“ participants

Sneek, April 11th, 2018


In just over one month, hundreds of citizens, companies, and institutions from Southwest-Friesland will be contributing to the “At the Watergate“ festival, part of Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018. Thanks to their efforts, over 6,000 young people from twenty European countries will be able to give over 1,000 performances at a large number of locations in the municipality from May 9th-11th with Sneek as its epicenter. On Tuesday, April 10th, the press was given the current state of affairs regarding the preparations for the music and dance spectacle at Cultuur Kwartier Sneek, initiator, and organizer of “At the Watergate“.



The organization will depend on at least 750 volunteers among the residents of the municipality for support. On Monday, April 10th in a full Zuiderkerk in Sneek, they were updated about the latest developments by Ben van der Knaap, artistic director of “At the Watergate“. Masses of people ranging in age from 16 to 80 have volunteered for set-up and breakdown crews, catering staff, group chaperones, photographers and many more volunteer positions. Many volunteer affairs are also being dealt with by groups and organizations. The performances on stages in outlying villages are made possible thanks to the efforts of various local associations. The organization is as good as complete, according to volunteer coordinator Manon Talman. "We are still looking for thirty group chaperones, preferably available for all three days, to act as a buddy to one or more participating groups. We already have eighty volunteers, but that is not enough, for example, to look after all the orchestras personally. This is very important for us: The personal aspect and a fine introduction to Southwest-Friesland. Everyone should feel welcome at ‘At the Watergate‘ and in our municipality."



The organization assists orchestras when instruments, mostly the larger ones, are missing because transport to Southwest-Friesland is not possible. In this area, almost all problems have been solved so far. However, there are still timpani, drums and double basses being sought after. Other musical wishes are also being dealt with by the organization. Anne Oosterhaven, the face of the famous Bogerman School Music Department, has a lot of experience with music events and he will take care of just such issues. "The groups range from four to ninety members and they must all be assigned to the appropriate stage. It doesn’t stop there. Each group has their own personal wishes. One group may want to play acoustically, while the other has to be amplified right down to the smallest instrument. We also have to take into account the different musical styles; there is a lot of classical music, but pop, jazz, and folk are also well represented."


Meals, bus rides, overnight stays

During the three-day festival 51,000 meals, including vegan and gluten-free meals will be provided. Local 55 from Sneek will play a crucial role in this. The assistance from students from ROC Friese Poort as well as from Stenden University of Applied Sciences is also indispensable. They have already prepared 3,000 liters of pumpkin and tomato soup.


During “At the Watergate“ many groups will perform several times at various locations within the municipality. According to production manager Jelle Snijder, at least 75 bus trips are planned to transport all participants. "Between Schiphol airport and the heart of the festival in Sneek, but also to venues in surrounding cities such as Bolsward, Koudum, and Sandfirden, as well as to various locations of care organization Patyna, for example, Frittemahof (Sneek), Bloemkamp (Bolsward) and Talma State (Heeg). Because it is difficult for the elderly to get to these locations, Patyna approached us with the idea to create a stage directly at their various locations for a number of musical performances, a fantastic offer that we have gratefully made use of. This way, young and old will be connected to each other in a unique way."


Arran Bakker is responsible for hospitality. "In order to offer everyone a place to sleep, 3,100 beds have been rented, with five locations at CSG Bogerman, RSG Magister Alvinus, RSG Malta, De Diken and Fultura being set up as pop-up hostels." The organization will receive help from more than two hundred employees of Empatec. Furthermore, 22 accommodations have been rented at various locations within the province.



And then, of course, it also has to look good. Artistic director Ben van der Knaap showed a 3D visualization of the festival site with stages in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. "All the stages are located on or around the water, at each performance it should be felt that you are in the ‘Waterpoortstad ‘. Also very special is the Ecopodium that is entirely self-sufficient by means of solar panels.“  Van der Knaap also gave a demonstration on a so-called 'metallophone' or sound bell, created by Frans van der Horst from Rotterdam. In the shape of the logo that is based on the Waterpoort, the two-meter-high tubular objects will be located throughout the city. "Nice to look at, but also capable of playing a tune. Keimpe de Jong composed a special nomber for the Tubular Bells. Even the decoration undoubtedly challenges our musical guests to a spontaneous performance."



It is exactly four weeks before the festival gets into full swing and the project team is working overtime. Yet it is more than worth all its efforts according to festival director Lieuwe Toren. "We are all creating something wonderful here, the 'Mienskip' idea is lifted to an even higher level. Our goal is that people will talk about 'At the Watergate' even long after the festival is over."  In order to achieve this, the organization is organizing a conference on Wednesday, May 9th for the art and culture industry within the music community. During this conference, an agreement will be signed by more than 20 countries: the “At the Watergate“ Manifesto. An agreement between educators, politicians and music providers in Friesland within the context of “More Music in the Classroom“.


Ultimately, the entire festival will consist of four parts: the pre-festival or “Open the gate“ beginning Tuesday, May 8th in which 500 German students will play together and perform with young people from the Sneker Arts Center Atrium. Then on Wednesday afternoon, the congress “Music in the Community “ will be held in Theater Sneek. On Wednesday evening the party will break loose with the opening spectacle that takes place on and around the Kolk near the Waterpoort. "All participants will be welcomed by Bart Meijer. The Noorderlijk Orkest Collective conducted by Harmen Cnossen, originally from Sneek, will give a grand opening concert and also young violinist Enzo Kok, DJs, soloists and 'Parademakers' will perform", says Lieuwe Toren. Finally, to the festival days themselves: "It will be a potpourri of all kinds of musical happenings from young talent from all corners of the world."