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De Balie is a theatre and a centre for politics, culture and media, with a café-restaurant at Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen 10, at Leidseplein in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. De Balie specialises in a number of territories: politics, art, society, media and cinema, and regularly organises programs. These programs consistently bear the mark of a sharp and deeply analytical character; De Balie leaves no questions of social relevance unasked. Through talk shows, discussions, debates and theatre, De Balie mixes several points of view in a wayward and creative fashion.
De Balie was founded in 1982 and is situated in the previous District Court, built around the end of the nineteenth century, which moved to the Parnassusweg in Amsterdam.
Felix Rottenberg is co-founder of De Balie. Anil Ramdas was director from 2003 to 2005. Writer and journalist Yoeri Albrecht has been director from December 1, 2010, to present. He succeeded Ellen Walraven, who is currently working as a dramaturge at Toneelgroep Amsterdam. The current Managing Director is Jolanda Beyer. Next to the direction, the organisation of De Balie contains multiple departments including programming, communications, finances, technicians, building and system management and the Grandcafé.
For some programs, De Balie cooperates with a number of set partners. For instance, the programmes in the series Mind the Gap and Justice for All are produced in cooperation with Oxfam Novib, while the Volkskrant, KNAW and NEMO have teamed up for years on the monthly program Kenniscafé, in which journalist-presenter Martijn van Calmthout discusses science in relation to current and controversial topics. Also, De Balie is part of the Cineville partnership and often collaborates with the SLAA.
Programming and archive
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The most current and up to date agenda is available on the website of De Balie. The programs produced in De Balie are regularly broadcast live on the Internet, under the title De Balie TV. This stream is available on the website of De Balie. This website also hosts an extensive video-archive of controversial programs throughout the years, with guests as Pussy Riot, Marlene Dumas, Seymour Hersh and Tomáš Sedlácek. Moderators of the programs have included among others: Bahram Sadeghi, Isolde Hallensleben, Pieter Hilhorst and Martijn de Greve.
Over the years De Balie has created an extensive archive that hosts dossiers, articles and videos of previous programmes and topics. In the past some quite divergent programmes have been shown in De Balie. Some examples:
- Pussy Riot: an interview with members of Pussy Riot and a screening of the documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.
- Marlene Dumas: a conversation about her work and a screening of Miss Interpreted (Marlene Dumas).
- And Justice for ALL: a series on the international rule of law, in which diverging topics like the Sharia, censorship in China, justice and injustice have been discussed.
- Not in my backyard: an international current affairs show of De Balie, which dealt with opics like the situation at the Western Bank, Mexico and the drugs cartels and modern piracy.
- Kenniscafé: a program that puts science (and scientists) on the spot. Current theme’s like nuclear energy, obesity, lab-rats and robots have been debated by experts and commentators.
- India Express: a program that shows India through the eyes of Indian intellectuals and artists.
- Crash Course Congo: The current, past and future of Congo have been investigated in a series of 6 episodes. Among other things, the focus was on religious soaps, modern art and culture and soap in emergency help-packages.
A lot of De Balie programmes are broadcast live on their website.
Next to the theatre- and debate centre, the Grandcafé is also a valuable asset to De Balie. The Grandcafé offers room for food and drinks, but also for meetings. The café is open seven days a week and serves good coffee, lunch, a quick bite to eat, drinks or a full-blown dinner. Free Wi-Fi is available and plugs can be found.