Going Dutch: Holland Days come to Latvia

  • 2007-04-18
  • By Talis Saule Archdeacon
RIGA - Windmills, tulips, cheese, bicycles, liberal social policies and little wooden shoes 's Holland days are here! From April 20 to 30, Latvia will hold the first ever "Holland Days" in the Baltic states.

Robert Schuddeboom, Dutch ambassador to Latvia, told journalists that the purpose of the days is to improve bilateral relations. He said that while the two countries have a "rich history" together, the cultures don't really know very much about each other. "Our aim is to bring together, on a small scale, individual persons and organizations and through that build bilateral relations," he explained.

Unlike the massive, highly organized, three-month French Spring, the Dutch embassy is trying to keep their events on a more manageable scale. "We think it is important that these are small-scale events but involving many people. That is the essence of our relationship. That is how small countries build relations, step-by-step, stone-by-stone," Schuddeboom said.
A variety of cultural and economic events are planned for the days, including a number of concerts featuring Dutch composers, art exhibitions focusing on Rembrandt and other Dutch artists, a seminar on foreign investment in the Netherlands, a film festival and other more practical social events such as seminars on childcare and police work.

One of the prominent musical events planned is an April 24 concert by Latvian musicians presenting the works of famous Dutch composers such as J.P. Sweelinck and Rudolf Escher. The next day, the award winning Lendvai String Trio will give a concert at Riga's shipping museum, where talented young Latvian musicians will receive grants to further their education.
One of the major economic events planned is a meeting with two Dutch trade delegations. The trade delegations will meet on April 25 - 28, and are composed of 28 people representing companies in the ICT, metal and timber industries. The delegation will focus on investment, outsourcing and strengthening cooperation with Latvian companies.
The Holland days culminate with a "Dutch Film Day" lasting until midnight on April 30. The film day 's which takes place during Riga's Fantasy Film Festival 's will feature three classic Dutch films: "Ober" (Waiter), by famous screenwriter/director/actor Alex van Warmerdam, a mystery film entitled "Het Zwijgen" (Silence), and a compilation of scenes from silent films from 1905 - 1915 entitled "Lyrisch Nitraat."

The embassy envisions making Holland Days an annual event. Even though this year's inaugural events are just getting underway, organizers already have big plans for coming years. They expect two to three times as many people to participate in 2008, and have even started considering art exhibitions for 2009.
These estimates are more than just idle speculation, as similar "Holland Days" events have already met with success in a number of other countries, including Russia, Slovenia, the U.S.A and Indonesia.

More information about Holland Days is available at the Netherlands embassy website, www.netherlandsembassy.lv