Stavanger’s cultural desert / News / The Foreigner

Stavanger’s cultural desert. Artists and audience to benefit from development project, claims composer. There are two gods in Stavanger; football, and money,” composer and project leader of Tou Vision, Nils Henrik Asheim tells The Foreigner. He claims that before the European Culture of Capital came to town in 2008, many people – not least the politicians – weren’t particularly conscious or aware of culture.

nils, henrik, asheim, composer, organist, stavanger, norway, tou, scene, rogaland, teater, sandnes, kulturhus



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Stavanger’s cultural desert

Published on Thursday, 7th January, 2010 at 23:00 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

Artists and audience to benefit from development project, claims composer.

Nils Henrik Asheim
Nils Henrik Asheim
Photo: Tou Scene


Limited possibilities

There are two gods in Stavanger; football, and money,” composer and project leader of Tou Vision, Nils Henrik Asheim tells The Foreigner.

He claims that before the European Culture of Capital came to town in 2008, many people – not least the politicians – weren’t particularly conscious or aware of culture.

“The city’s artistic milieu isn’t very large. I think Stavanger needs more theatres. There’s also a lack of high-level educational institutions for other arts than music.

“Stavanger would benefit from an alternative space for theatre as there’s only Rogaland teater and Sandnes kulturhus at the moment. It needs a cutting edge venue like Oslo and Bergen have, and another project space that allows visual artists to set up and display their work in a different way to a gallery or museum. We already have those anyway.”

A hard grind

Tou Scene Facade
Tou Scene Facade
Minna Suojoki
Almost nine years after Stavanger’s Tou Scene opened this old brewery has undergone one facelift, and is now bursting at the seams. From humble beginnings as a ramshackle, condemned building in 2001, Tou has developed from having one room measuring 100 square metres to today’s 2,000.

“I started my voyage by organising monthly concerts for Ny Musikk, but it soon became clear that Stavanger needed a cultural space that wasn’t just for a particular type of audience. I wanted a venue for concerts, visual arts, and theatre,” Asheim says, when asked what was so important about Tou for him.

Developing the dereliction

There are plans afoot to increase the available space fivefold; putting in an experimental (black box) theatre with tiered seating, expanding the public areas, adding workspaces for visual artists and rehearsal rooms for musicians, as well as offices and meeting rooms and so on.

“There are other areas of the building that haven’t been used for five or six years. The black box theatre – that will also work for concerts – will be connected to a new lobby, which is a beautiful gem of an industrial room that hasn’t been renovated yet. We’re working very hard to integrate a large show space for visual arts into the rough plans we’re going to present to the council in March as well.”

Work in progress

And in the meantime, he says there’s still more to be done in Stavanger regarding audience numbers and attitudes to the arts.

“Although I pulled out of the daily running of Tou last year, I still divide my time between composing, performing and Tou planning work.This might not be a good idea for my career, but I wish the forthcoming project well. I want to make sure that the place doesn’t lose its independent artistic profile and get turned into just another local cultural centre. Luckily, the council has bought the entire premises with the aim of developing it culturally.”

Composer Nils Henrik Asheim (b.1960 in Oslo) made his début as a composer at the early age of fifteen, and was awarded the EBU Rostrum prize in 1978.

He subsequently went on to study organ and composing at the Norwegian Academy of Music and the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam.

Asheim has written several chamber music pieces, orchestral works, works for theatre etc., and has made his mark as a performer with improvisations on the organ.

Since 1991 Asheim has lived in Stavanger, and was the principal initiator of the founding of Tou Scene – an alternative centre for contemporary arts.

Asheim was leader of the Norwegian Society of Composers between 1988 and 1991.



Published on Thursday, 7th January, 2010 at 23:00 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: nils, henrik, asheim, composer, organist, stavanger, norway, tou, scene, rogaland, teater, sandnes, kulturhus.





  
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