De Doelen is the city’s main concert hall, located in the heart of Rotterdam Central District, on Schouwburgplein. The historic building is famous for its magnificent open foyers, Main Hall and massive range of concerts, conventions and events. Janneke Staarink is the director of de Doelen, has worked in the cultural sector all her life, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Having stood at the helm of de Doelen for two and half years now, she says there is no end to her ambitions for this building.
Even during these difficult and uncertain times, the team at de Doelen are still hard at work. The premises were given a complete metamorphosis to improve building accessibility, and now they’re working hard to restore the original character, Janneke tells us. “Everything is being upgraded: we have new bars and standing tables, and you have an unimpeded view of the whole space and long open foyers, since we removed everything that was in the way. It has created a vast open space that better reflects the building’s origins.”
From September, de Doelen Studio will be back with another packed schedule of events. The main challenge will be to kick-start the open-doors programming. “I really believe that an institution has to be firmly rooted in its home base first for it to grow nationally or internationally. For us, it starts here in Rotterdam. Everyone will be welcome soon to drop in for a coffee, take a tour to see the artworks in the building or to work here during the day. Evenings will be for organized, ticketed events, concerts and shows.” In addition to music, de Doelen also hosts international conferences and events, exhibitions and other forms of artistic expression. Some of their past highlights are Miles Davis and Bruce Springsteen. This season outstanding names like Roberta Alexander and Chineke! Orchestra are lined up.
The redevelopment of Schouwburgplein is one of the City’s urban projects and an important change for local cultural venues and operators. “Together with Theater Rotterdam and other partners, we co-founded the Schouwburgplein Association to get our voices heard in this redevelopment. In view of all the surrounding cultural institutions and organizations around the city, we’re pushing to make this an end-to-end cultural plaza. And we want this to be a place where the people who live here feel at home.” De Doelen will also be among the first area buildings to get a green roof, as part of the sustainability project 7 Square Endeavour. If all goes to plan, planting and the installation of bee hotels will start this September.