The new seating arrangements at the Korzo in The Hague

Finally, after more than three months of lockdown, performance spaces, galleries and museums open their doors to the public – with very tight restrictions and controls.

For museums, especially the big ones in Amsterdam like the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh, it will mean one is able to look at the pictures in a calm and leisurely fashion without staring at the backs of heads and back-packs of hordes of mindless tourists who are not really interested in art at all, taking up the space, ticking off places on their Amsterdam must-see list.

How much control will be imposed, we will see. Will your route be fixed, will it be like IKEA where you are obliged to walk past every single item on display? Or will you be able to mix and match, skipping rooms you are not so interested in and will you be able to go back the way you came to look at something again? Whatever happens, it will still be better than before.

The only drawback is that you can’t just turn up, you will have to book a ticket for an allocated time slot – how long will you be able to stay, once you are in?  I imagine the demand will be high, especially from locals who have been unable to visit their own museums in peace and quiet in many years. So, a bit of planning will be involved, but I’m looking forward to it.

Theatres and concert halls are another matter. With, for the moment at least, audiences of only 100 allowed I can’t see it working. Even for a smallish venue like the Korzo in The Hague, which has a capacity of about 220, it will still look depressingly empty – see picture above. For large venues with capacities of over 1000 it becomes silly and impractical.

Audiences are vital to any live performance and, ask any performer, contribute an incalculable amount to any event. With a handful of people spread over a large area it will be impossible to generate any sort of atmosphere and feel like a glorified rehearsal. And the practicalities of course – will it be worthwhile for venues to re-open if staff and performers out-number the audience and will the costs involved make it viable, especially as all venues have lost a fortune already. I think for June, at least, all performances will be an important step forward but are really no more than defiant tokens. Better than nothing?  We will see.

Many of the venues will continue to stream performances online and, although not ideal, this gives many of us the opportunity to see shows that otherwise would have been inaccessible for one reason or another. Let’s hope that continues in one form or another.

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