JUNE 30, 2009
By Susan Schaefer
I’ll admit I’m a culture junkie who until June 20, 2009 found the culture seen in Maastricht, well – politely boring, lacking an edge. Plenty of highbrow art and culture but not much of what I call ‘smart brow’ – that place where edgy meets elite.
I have a confession – I am a culture junkie with a string of arts and culture leadership in my pedigree: I am the founding publisher, editor and reporter of the South Street Star, the first arts and culture weekly newspaper to cover the hot and happenin’ SoHo scene in my hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, where I also founded the Club Bay-Root, an original act nightclub, edited of the first ‘What’s Happening’ art and culture listings pages for New York newspaper, the Aquarian Weekly, and founded of the first women’s poetry festival while fronting my own poetry troupe, the Star Bards (we had a fan following well before poetry had ‘slams’!). Later, as the chair of the public policy committee for the Greater Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce in Minnesota, I founded the first ever business task force to study the impact of the creative class on our city.
I’ve lived in Maastricht for the past five years and have been concerned with the strength of the city’s bid for European Capital of Culture city in 2018. Ah, but then a friend took me to a Pecha Kucha night and Maastricht and its surrounding “Euroregion” area shone as a wholly new sphere in my celestial imagination.
It’s not that Maastricht invented this night. Far from it. Pecha Kucha Night was born in Japan 2003 as a place for designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. Pecha Kucha, Japanese for the sound of conversation, is a fast paced, entertaining and informative format now running in 210 cities world wide, allowing each presenter 20 images at 20 seconds each (totaling 6 minutes and 40 seconds) to present original thought, ideas, concepts, and the like. Some presenters are literally ‘pitching’ their wares (rather than finding a gallery or the like to showcase them) while others intend to shock, stimulate or entertain. No matter the goal, the design and pace of this evening truly arouses passion.
The hosts, of Pecha Kucha Maastricht: Pierre Buijs, Martijn Kagenaar and Jean-Paul Toonen have put their individual spin on this international event by filming and streaming the video on their own website. The presence of a multi-media crew adds a dash of panache and credibility to the event. With the brass ring of capturing the honor of hosting Europe’s Capital of Culture in mind, Pecha Kucha Maastricht features the artists, designers, performers, thinkers and tinkers who defy the city’s more staid image. For me, it revealed an intriguing sub-cultural literati from the too often unseen Maastricht cultural scene. Bravo!
To learn more about the Speakers from June 20th simply click onto their website . My personal favorites from June 20th were the soft spoken but deeply sincere Jeroen Vinken, Art upon Fabrics, Lonneke ten Hooven,Food Seduction, a culinary poet, and space cadet, William Willems, whose Flower Bombing stole the show. See for yourself why Maastricht may indeed come up roses for its cultural quest.
Photo: Audience, Pecha Kucha Maastricht (Photo: courtesy of Bert Janssen Photography (Maastricht)