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‘Fund teaches orchestras and ensembles how to earn money’

Dutch business newspaper the Financiële Dagblad about The Bunschoten Fund
by Bert Koopman

2013

The sixteenth edition of the Grachtenfestival (Amsterdam Canals Festival, starting August 16, not only brings us music, but also a business scoop. The Bunschoten Fund is supporting the concert series Terra Incognita: young musical talents and experienced musicians performing together in the Hotel Krasnapolsky’s Winter Garden. The Fund also offers orchestras, ensembles, festivals and podiums professional help in enhancing their income-generating possibilities now that funding opportunities are drying up.

‘The Bunschoten Fund’ wants to teach musical organizations how to fish for alternative sources of income by themselves,’ says fund chairman Dennis Weewer, who in his daily life leads the Family & Charity Office at Insinger de Beaufort. The Fund introduces them to Van Dooren Advies, an agency specialized in sponsoring and fundraising, whose clients include The Dutch National Opera and the North Sea Jazz Festival.

Weewer emphasizes that applications are selected with caution, both by the Fund’s Board and by Van Dooren Advies. On the basis of ‘quick scans’ two candidates remain in two rounds during the months of March and October. One of them will receive professional support by the agency, the other will receive the results of the scan. An annual sum of € 60,000 is available.

Founder of The Bunschoten Fund is the eccentric music teacher Willem Bunschoten (1932-2011). While listening to the radio on his sickbed, he heard how hundreds of millions of euros were being cut from the podium arts budgets. The severe impact on the entire sector touched him deeply. The withdrawn sufi therefore wanted to support the needy music organizations. Weewer: ‘Up front are self-reliance and permanency.’

Willem Bunschoten is the son of the Fund’s name giver, Etward Bunschoten. The family of Etward’s wife owned a plantation on Java, which formed the basis of the Fund’s capital. The Fund also provides students and ensembles from abroad with The Bunschoten House: temporary accommodation and rehearsal or concert space.

Director Lidy Klein Gunnewiek (51) of the Grachtenfestival (Amsterdam Canals Festival) — the annual festival that offers young classical music talents a monumental stage, partially in the open air — is happy with the one-off € 50,000 that The Bunschoten Fund is contributing to the concert series Terra Incognita. Since a restart in 2010, the classical music festival, which welcomed 53,000 visitors last year, is looking for a sustainable financial basis.

Unlike the Robeco Summer Nights in the Concertgebouw (some 70,000 visitors), the Grachtenfestival does not have one co-financier who has been aboard for a quarter of a century. Director Klein Gunnewiek: ‘Funding remains a considerable challenge.’ With a budget of € 1.2 million the Grachtenfestival organizes more than 170 concerts at 90 locations in Amsterdam. More than two thirds of that amount comes from ticketing, sponsoring, private funding and private donations. Lidy Klein Gunnewiek says she has talking to several ‘parties’ to help realize the intended upscaling by a third to 70,000 visitors in 2016. She wants an audience where more than half of the people are under the age of forty.

The festival wants to develop ‘a more enterprising way of producing’, from a central location of its own, ‘the festival heart’, by only programming productions that generate sufficient and immediate income. Vulnerable parts — talent coaching, owned productions, experimental music — might end up in the danger zone though. According to Klein Gunnewiek there is an ongoing need for support from the public and private sectors.

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