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KANTOR weekend

In a country with an almost saturated festival market, how do you manage to stand out? A brand-new concept in Amsterdam helps combat building vacancy while offering its audience culture, food and music. Last weekend saw the first edition of KANTOR. 

By Cassandra Pizzey / 11-10-2013

From the train station Amsterdam Sloterdijk, the 14-storey office block that houses new creative concept KANTOR is readily visible. This shiny, glass tower doesn’t seem the most likely venue for two afternoons and evenings of cultural entertainment, but that is exactly the idea behind this indoor festival.

Born from an idea to combat building vacancy and bring together various styles of cultural entertainment, two creative agencies came together to create KANTOR. Organizations PUP, known for its support of young artistic talents through collaborations, exhibitions and soon-to-release PUPMAG; and PaardenKracht, a Dutch festival staple that is best known for their wacky ‘Photobooths’ but also organizes club nights and represents artist. 

“PaardenKracht and PUP have been good friends for years,” says Kunna Haan, one half of PaardenKracht which she forms together with Pauline Goedhart. “We always wanted to come up with a new concept and in a country with so many festivals we were missing one with real depth. There are plenty music festivals out there with a small creative side programme, but none hosted by established names such as EYE, IDFA, FOAM and the National Ballet.”

She continues: “We’re also looking at a slightly older demographic (25 and above) as these are the people that work in this kind of office all day. They have busy lives and not much time to visit a museum of exhibition, go out for dinner or go out dancing. We decided to combine all these things under one roof, creating a time saver if you will.”

Spread over five main stories, KANTOR indeed has everything from classical ballet to workshops and seminars. On the very top floor, young talents were represented by Foam Editions and PUP New Talents in a bright, white space. Foam photography museum Amsterdam showed its collection of reasonably-priced works alongside paintings, sculptures and illustrations by artists from the PUP network. Just one floor down, local Dutch DJs catered to a party-minded crowd. 

A few floors down and the National Ballet put on performances adjacent to a pop-up shop and numerous art cabins. One of the projects on show there is the ongoing Red Bull Canvas Cooler, in which street artists translated their ideas onto the brand’s signature coolers. We were able to see the artist at work, the smell of spray paint permeating the air while a few people danced along to a silent disco. Those looking for some sit-down entertainment were treated to films by IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam), or could partake in workshops, watch cabaret or listen to seminars. 

Downstairs visitors were able to taste some great fresh food by The Butcher, accompanied by live jazz. 

Hosting a festival over a total of seven floors can’t have been easy and permits were not easily obtained. “There are a lot of fire restrictions and at the last minute we were told to take two more floors. That meant coming up with content for two floors in five days.” A nightmare for any party planner, but clever programming ensured enough entertainment on each storey. 

So how did the two organizations manage to get so many renowned institutions involved in their new concept? “It’s just a matter of calling, emailing and setting up meetings,” Haan explains. “We really believe in our concept and tried to convey the message through presentations and our enthusiasm. I think that’s what really convinced them of our strengths and our ideas.”

And what of the future plans, can we expect KANTOR at different locations in the future or will it be a one off? 

Haan: “The idea is to turn it into a traveling concept, much like the Parade (a traveling theatre festival that tours the Randstad during summer months). There is building vacancy in Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague, the list goes on. It would be great to roll out the concept in different cities and occupy vacant buildings in a positive way while offering a platform to artists and giving them a chance to work with established parties.”

While it’s evident some visitors of KANTOR came solely for the music, the cultural programming was something they couldn’t miss. Collaborating with establishments as EYE, FOAM and the National Ballet is no small feat and the organized can be proud of what they accomplished. Although the festival attracted a slightly younger audience than aimed for, a new festival concept will always need some adjustment – especially when it’s held in a tall, shiny office block. The future of this type of festival is an exciting one and who knows, maybe we will be visiting KANTOR during Dutch Design Week sometime in the future. 

http://www.kantorweekend.com/
http://pupconcepts.com/
http://www.pkfashion.nl/pages/

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