Kinneksbond director Jérôme Konen, pictured, wants to nurture existing audiences, to try out new things and invite new, younger audiences to do the same
Photo: Sven Becker
Kinneksbond director Jérôme Konen explains his attempt to create a space where people can shed tears, laugh and exchange ideas.
When Jérôme Konen took over as director at Kinneksbond Cultural Centre in Mamer in May 2015, the programme up until September 2016 had already been finalised. “When you arrive at a new place, you bring new ideas and views of what’s been done before and what you want to try out,” says Konen, a graduate in performing arts and audiovisual at the Paul Verlaine University in Metz.
His own programme started in earnest a year ago. “I took a radical approach of ‘throw it at a wall and see what sticks’ in my first full year,” he says. The Centre relies on ticket sales for one third of its budget, and pre-sales of tickets are up, suggesting audiences have responded well, although Konen admits that the 2018 programme will take a more nuanced approach.
He is not daunted, because his aim is to nurture existing audiences, to try out new things and invite new, younger audiences to do the same. “We were already running interactive theatre for kids under 12, but there was nothing for teenagers and a limited amount for young adults,” he says.
He firmly believes that schools in Luxembourg should do more to educate teenagers beyond visits to see classical theatre performances. His Centre has been working with Mierscher Kulturhaus on a youth programme. “Young people need a theatrical experience that is different from a typical show, where they sit facing the stage. Teenagers are also very self-aware and don’t want to be asked to get on stage. We try to get them engaged in a way they’re comfortable with,” he says.
Konen also works with schools in the locality. This month’s ground-breaking “Blockbuster”, which syncs real-time acting with famous movie scenes, will also showcase artwork on the same theme from pupils of the Josy Barthel Lycée.
Traditional crowd-pleasers will always be on the agenda, but Konen hopes to entice audiences to discover more. “I want to make audiences curious. Culture and art are not elitist and audiences don’t need prior knowledge to appreciate or relate to what they see or hear on an emotional level,” he argues, adding: “I have tried to create a space where people can shed tears, laugh and exchange ideas.”
The Centre is also home to the Luxembourg Chamber Orchestra and Konen has been hard at work expanding its horizons. In addition to their regular and traditional concerts, a partnership with Opera in Metz gives the orchestra greater visibility and allows the Centre to stage ballet performances with live music.
Funding remains an issue for Kinneksbond. “Other regional structures like ours in Germany and France have a team of 20 people, when we are just six. This limits what we can physically achieve,” he says.
Konen at just 30 years of age is optimistic: “I will keep having faith in what I do, in the artists and the shows, even if the audience is not ready. I am convinced that in the end, quality will succeed.”