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Explore the North New élan in Leeuwarden

‘There has been a lack of innovative initiatives in Leeuwarden for some time.’

Mark Hospers, general director

Explore the North is an annual interdisciplinary festival which focuses on literature and the performing arts, and uses Leeuwarden’s city centre as a source of inspiration. The festival offers a platform for a broad mix of genres: from classical musicians to spoken word avant-gardists, and from young, talented writers to international theatre makers. ‘There has been a lack of innovative initiatives in Leeuwarden for some time,’ says general director Mark Hospers. ‘Over the past decade, and partly thanks to Leeuwarden-Fryslân Cultural Capital of Europe, we have witnessed a climate in which art and experimentation increasingly play a role. Explore the North is one of the fruits of this renewed élan.’

Summer Sessions

The festival takes place in November, a month that seems to slowly have become synonymous with lockdowns. ‘We have been forced to cancel the festival twice now, right at the last moment: 2020 and 2021 are the evil twins in that respect.’ However, Explore the North refused to give up. A substantial part of the festival programme for 2020 has been reallocated to the so-called Summer Sessions. ‘Between May and October, we have held about a hundred and fifty to two hundred events in the Westerkerk.’

Vaporwave

A part of the festival programme was held online, including Explore the Vapor via a 24-hour live stream. It is no coincidence that JORNT, the top act of this niche in electronic music, hails from Friesland. As guest curator of the festival, he invited twenty of the biggest Vaporwave artists from around the world and interesting newcomers to participate in Explore the Vapor. Hospers is not sure yet if the Summer Sessions will return in 2022. ‘We even had to cancel our brainstorming session in December. We are currently in the middle of a transformation. We would like to extend the festival and make it a year-round activity, as well as being part of a cultural infrastructure that has its own production house and which focuses on developing talent.’

JORNT2 1

It is no coincidence that JORNT, the top act of this niche in electronic music, hails from Friesland. As guest curator of the festival, he invited twenty of the biggest Vaporwave artists from around the world and interesting newcomers to participate in Explore the Vapor.