The real role of Dutch dads in focus

It’s Father’s day, and this Dutch professor is exploring the real role of Dutch dads Go to any park in the Netherlands on a sunny Wednesday afternoon and you are sure to find a good sprinkling of dads and their offspring, enjoying what has become known as a papadag. But despite the apparent popularity of daddy day, just one in four new Dutch fathers takes the unpaid paternity leave they are entitled to by law.  In April, Renske Keizer (32), made headlines when she was named the world's first professor of fatherhood or, to be more formal, she was appointed a professor of child development at the University of Amsterdam’s social and behavioural sciences department. Keizer's research focuses on the role fathers play in the early development of their children and how policy towards all parents can be improved. ‘As a professor of fatherhood, I aim to provide insights into the questions of whether, why, and in what ways, fathers influence their children’s development.’ Keizer told Who gets the kids dressed? Earlier research by Keizer highlighted...  More >

Starry Night the wrong way round

What Van Gogh’s Starry Night looks like – the wrong way round For centuries, people have been intrigued by the Mona Lisa’s smile, but Brazilian artist Vik Muniz was more interested in her back. Muniz has just opened a show at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague revealing a side of the world’s most famous paintings that the public rarely sees: the back of the canvas. By Senay Boztas Talking his way into leading international museums, Vik Muniz photographed and then reproduced the flip side of paintings including the Mona Lisa (otherwise known as Leonardo da Vinci’s La Gioconda), Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night (above) and Pablo Picasso’s Woman Ironing. Verso is his first ever museum exhibition of this 15-year project, and also has five works based on the Mauritshuis’s collection, including Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and Johannes Vermeer’s View of Delft. Talking to on the phone from his next stop in Paris, he explained that in a digital world, seeing paintings as actual, physical objects...  More >

'Racism is like being touched up'

Racism, says Sylvana Simons, is like being touched up Television presenter Sylvana Simons caused a media storm when she announced she was getting involved in politics. She talks to Senay Boztas about why people would rather see her dance than hear about the dark side of colonial history, and why she believes the Netherlands is suffering a crisis of racism. ‘Somebody touches you as a woman. You say, “oh, I don’t like that”, and the guy says, “I was just trying to be nice”. People deal with racism in the Netherlands in the same way. Because they say they mean well, you’re not supposed to be offended.’ The 45-year-old television presenter has launched her own offensive now, against xenophobia in the Netherlands. She first announced that she will stand for the new ‘tolerance’ party Denk in the general election next year. Then she went to a police station in The Hague to report the worst of 40,000 instances of racist insults that followed. Simons lives in Amsterdam and was born in ‘one part of Holland’ known...  More >

The Atlas of Amsterdam packs in the facts

From allotments to zoos: The Atlas of Amsterdam is packed with weird facts Discover Amsterdam from the comfort of your armchair with the Atlas of Amsterdam - a new book which contains hundreds of maps, graphs and photographs that bring the city to life. Curious about how many bikes are in the city or the main reasons for murder? Or perhaps you're interested in the city's international make-up or the fact the number of cannabis-selling coffee shops has halved to 176 in 20 years? Here's a selection of random facts There are 6,000 allotments in Amsterdam and its surrounding areas, and 3,000 people are on the waiting list for a space to grow their own veg. There are 3,800 cafes, bars and restaurants in Amsterdam, most of which are in the centre and Zuid. The Vondelpark was created for the Amsterdam elite who lived in the nearby mansions. Today the park is used by 10 million people every year. There are 145 football pitches in and around the city - yet Amsterdam only has one professional football team. Ajax players earn around €400,000 a year on...  More >

Helmut Newton takes over Amsterdam

The work of Helmut Newton takes over Amsterdam’s Foam gallery A major exhibition of the work of photographer Helmut Newton (1920-2004) takes over the entire building of photography museum Foam on Amsterdam’s Keizersgracht from June 17. Helmut Newton: A Retrospective features over 200 photographs, ranging from early prints seldom on display to monumental photographs. Most of them are vintage prints from the collection of the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin. There is also the opportunity to see Helmut by June, the film made by Newton’s wife June in 1995. Newton is famous for introducing eroticism to fashion photography and his output is considered one of the most iconic of the last quarter of the 20th century. To fill in the life of this colourful character, here are ten facts you might like to know. 1. Helmut Newton was born Helmut Neustädter on October 31 1920 in Berlin into a liberal, affluent and Jewish family. His father, Max, owned a button factory. Berlin in the 1920s was at the centre of the hedonistic and decadent Weimar Republic,...  More >

'Kapsalon is the best post exam food'

‘Kapsalon is by far the best post exam food on the planet’ German national Florian Volz is a 22-year-old International Studies student at Leiden University's campus in The Hague. He would like to meet DJ Martin Garrix, has an eye for a bargain night out and has become so keen on cycling, he plans to bike from The Hague to Greece this summer to make a documentary about refugees. How did you end up in the Netherlands? The Dutch university system caught my attention when I was still at school. At the time, Leiden was (and still is, I believe) ranked more highly than all the universities back home. In addition, Germans pay the same tuition fees as Dutch students, so the high quality education that I receive here comes at a very good price! Besides, I am a world traveller at heart. I would not have been able to study for three years in Germany as my travel bug is just too strong. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc ? I'm not an expat or an immigrant because German and Dutch culture is quite close and...  More >

Dutch summer festival overload 2016

Dutch summer festival overload 2016 – 15 of the best Regardless of whether your idea of a good time is listening to pulse pounding beats alongside 50,000 people or savouring an evocative couplet, there’s something for everyone at the Netherlands’ wide array of festivals (and other events) this summer. Here’s fifteen of the best. By Brandon Hartley Rotterdam International Poetry Festival – 7 - 11 June Poets from around the world will gather in Rotterdam for the 47th edition of this festival but this time around the organisers will be shaking things up by adding comic strips to the mix. Yes, you read that right. This year the fest will feature traditional performances, lectures and debates by poets in addition to events that focus on the genre’s crossovers into the worlds of film, music, art, and the funny pages as well. The 2016 programme also includes appearances by the Costa Rican poet Luis Chaves and Ireland’s Sinéad Morrissey in addition to plenty of others. PinkPop – 10 - 12 June This colossal music festival...  More >

Wait and see in earthquake-hit Groningen

Shored-up homes are a common sight in earthquake-hit Groningen Tens of thousands of homes in Groningen province have had to be shored up because of damage caused by earthquakes stemming from gas extraction. Graham Dockery went to the northern province to meet home owners and activists. Cans of spray paint rattle in the back of John Lanting’s van as we drive over roads pockmarked with cracks and fissures. ‘I’m a bit of a bad boy around here,’ he says with a childlike grin. Climbing over fences, obstructing work traffic, graffiti tagging multi-million euro machinery, and slashing tyres are all in a day’s work for the 55-year-old activist. The target of Lanting’s hooliganism is the conglomeration of energy companies exploiting Europe’s largest natural gas field in the province of Groningen. Natural gas drilling in Groningen provides 70% of the Netherlands’ gas supply, but has caused thousands of earthquakes, escalating in intensity over the last few decades. Residents of the area are angry at the structural damage to their...  More >

'I needed to go the Van Gogh museum'

‘As soon as I arrived in the Netherlands I needed to go to the Van Gogh museum’ Denisse Gaudin (46) is a marketing specialist who came to the Netherlands 18 years ago. In those years she has developed a taste for raw herring, and has learned to savour every ray of sun she can. She now lives near Delft in the small town of Den Hoorn where she and her family are ‘the only foreigners on the street.’ How did you end up in the Netherlands? Well, I met my husband in Brazil, and when he wanted to do a Phd. Delft was an option. I thought I might enjoy it here, so I said ‘let’s go.’ I really like it here, and feel really integrated, so we stayed for quite some time. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? I’m international, definitely. I was born in Chile, grew up in Brazil, married a Frenchman and now I’m here in the Netherlands. Although, I must say, I still feel Latina. I’m short, and culturally I think I’m relaxed, open and smile easily. Although Dutch people are not closed, I feel more informal than them. How...  More >

Health warning: Smoking policy kills.

Health warning: the government’s smoking policy kills Smoking kills but vote-hungry politicians are failing to act, write psychology professor emeritus Frits van Dam and lung specialist Wanda de Kanter. May 31 is another World No Tobacco Day, the United Nations’ cri de coeur against smoking. Almost a quarter of people over 15 in the Netherlands smoke. Half their number, over 20,000 people, will die of smoking-related illnesses. Public health director-general Angelique Berg agrees that smoking should be actively discouraged but her plan – scary pictures on packaging and information campaigns in schools – is mere window dressing. It won’t stop young people from taking up smoking nor will it help young smokers to kick the habit. She has failed to mention the most effective strategy for combating tobacco use: a tax hike. In countries which do use fiscal measures to tackle smoking, such as Australia and Sweden, the number of smokers is significantly lower than in the Netherlands. Sales Another obvious measure would be to...  More >

A downy pension pillow

Trust the employers and unions to come up with a complicated and opaque new pension plan, writes economist Mathijs Bouman. The Sociaal Economische Raad (a senior government advisory body made up of unions, employers and lay members) is laying out a soft pillow filled with the downiest of goose down sown up in a sturdy cotton pillow case. It’s  there to cushion the fall for every unfortunate generation whose luck on the stock exchange has run out. Who fills this miraculous pillow? All the generations whose luck held. Excess investment earnings from one generation go to generations whose shares tumbled. Lucky generations compensate unlucky generations. There’s solidarity among the age cohorts: we have a mutual investment return insurance policy. Buffer The buffer for luck and bad luck is an important part of the SER’s recent pension report in which it outlines a new pension system in which workers create their own investment pot. Even considering such an individually tailored...  More >

TNW: An app and a quick buck won't do

The Next Web: making a quick app and a buck are not the answer The Next Web promised to pull out all the stops this year to deliver an event unlike anything else on the European technology or startup scene. Esther O´Toole went down to check out the promised festival vibe and what the movers and shakers of the digital age have in store for us next. Free wifi? A given. Wireless earphones for better audibility, handy. Live streaming, top notch. Mobile charging lockers, genius. Seaweed burgers, stilt walkers, and live music? Awesome. In 2015 The Next Web hit its 10th year, and you might expect an anniversary edition of this sort to be a hard act to follow. But, as if to tangibly demonstrate the exponential growth of technology, this year was more than twice as big - moving from 3,500 visitors to 9,400. Both visitors and speakers descended upon Amsterdam from all over the world to indulge in two days of total tech immersion, from keynote speakers and exhibitor tents, to practical how-to workshops, an early stage startup competition and a hackathon. Starting...  More >

10 great things to do in June

From sailing ships to poetry; here’s 10 great things to do in June From classical music by the sea to roaring motor bikes and from lovely photos of the Dutch royal family to poets reading their own work, here's our pick of the best things to do in June. Hear the slap of canvas in the sea breeze The Round Texel Race is the world’s largest catamaran race with around 500 single and double-handed catamarans taking part. There is also kite surfing and raceboard slalom competitions during the four-day event. Mandy Mulder and Coen de Koning are defending their titles from last year, ahead of competing at the Rio Olympics in August. De Koog, Texel, June 25. Check out the very latest in the performing arts This annual cultural festival offers a broad scope of international performing arts, and features both established names and new talent. It continues to innovate, exploring new forms of theatre and new types of venue, such as staging performances in public spaces. Already scheduled for this edition are The Cure (photo) and The...  More >

'You can’t beat Amsterdam on a sunny day'

‘I love the Amsterdam lifestyle. You can’t beat Amsterdam on a sunny day’ Jessica Lipowski, 28, is an American writer who fell in love with Europe as a child and came to Amsterdam straight after college. Although after five years she considers herself an Amsterdammer, she still gets thrown sometimes by the Dutch ‘three kisses’ greeting. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Thanks to my parents, travel has always been a huge part of my life. When I was 12 years old I travelled to England for the first time and I remember telling my mom ‘I’m going to move here’. Every other European country I visited over the years, I repeated the same thing. She told me ‘if you want it, make it happen’, and that’s what I did. A few months after finishing university I applied for jobs in Amsterdam and London, and after I met my Dutch boyfriend a few months later, the decision was easy. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc? Most of the time I use the term expat. But I’m half German, half Polish, 100% American,...  More >

Seven-year 'inburgering' legal battle ends

Seven-year legal battle over ‘inburgering’ comes to a head in court This Friday, lawyer Jeremy Bierbach will be in court in Utrecht to hear the verdict in his seven year battle against a key component of the compulsory Dutch integration programme, or inburgering. If he wins, it could help fuel a significant change in how the controversial programme is administered. By Brandon Hartley Years ago, an American known as ‘P’ and a New Zealander known as ‘S’ were shocked when they received letters from their local councils informing them that they were required to take exams to prove they were properly integrated into Dutch society. Both had permanent residency permits and assumed they were exempt from the programme. Uncertain of how to handle the situation, they went to a forum on a popular website for expats in search of answers. There the duo, whose full names remain secret due to Dutch legal stipulations, encountered a group of people just as confused as them and grappling with their own inburgering obligations. That’s when attorney...  More >

Holland Festival goes to Edges of Europe

This year’s Holland Festival is on the Edges of Europe Tickets are now on sale for the Netherlands’ biggest international theatre festival, featuring 45 productions, including 12 world premiers. Esther O’Toole takes a peek behind the curtain. ‘Urgent and political’ is how artistic director, Ruth MacKenzie, describes the 69th edition of the Holland Festival which opens in Amsterdam on June 4. Taking inspiration from the Netherlands’ leadership of the EU this year, the festival is entitled The Edges of Europe and it aims to be edgy in more ways than one. They are setting the bar high, kicking off with an epic production from Hamburg’s Thalia Theater and Estonian directorial duo Ene-Liis Semper and Tilt Ojasoo. This pair not only hail from the literal edges of Europe but are renowned for their audacious and highly political form of theatre; work that in the past has included setting themselves up as a populist political party. Modern Europe The film of that show, Ash and Money, can be seen at the festival alongside this...  More >

'At times, I realise I am not Dutch'

‘At certain moments in the year you realise you’re totally not Dutch and never will be’ Mike Russell (52) has lived in the Netherlands for 28 years, and manages an apartment rentals company. He feels at home here, but still doesn’t feel entirely Dutch. However, in true Dutch style, he gave this interview while riding his bike through the centre of Amsterdam to work. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I finished my Phd in computer science in Wales, then I registered with an agency in London and said ‘get me a job anywhere but the UK’. They came up with all kinds of options, and I started work as an Apple Mackintosh developer here in 1988. Years later, I had a consultancy company which I sold because I wanted to do something that I had no background, skills or qualifications in. I knew some people in real estate, had a chat with them and though it sounded interesting. So I started that in Amsterdam in 2002. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? I guess I started as a classic expat, and over the years I have become pretty...  More >

The new extremists

Economist Mathijs Bouman charts the journey from being a moderate right-winger to an extremist europhile. You think that free trade is a good starting point for economic diplomacy, preferably via multilateral free trade agreements, or if that can’t be done via bilateral agreements. You think close cooperation with the US is a no-brainer. Naturally, some hard nuts will have to be cracked at the negotiating table but then a mutually advantageous free trade accord should be in the bag. You thought everybody would see the advantages of such an agreement but while your back was turned for five minutes public opinion had shifted dramatically. Free trade is in the interest of multinationals, people say, and they are only interested in poisoning us with chlorine chickens  and hormone beef Freedom and prosperity After a quarter of a century you are cancelling your Milieudefensie membership. Once an organisation for nature lovers you gladly supported, it now has an anti-globalist...  More >

The Next Web: prepare to be disrupted

The Next Web: technology takes centre stage in Amsterdam What started out as a couple of tech entrepreneurs trying to promote their new startup to a gathering of some 220 interested people, has metamorphosed into one of the biggest and most important technology events in the world. Esther O’Toole sat down with Wytze de Haan, the managing director of events for The Next Web, to talk about this year’s offering. Wytze de Haan went to The Hague's Hotel School hospitality industry college; he was no ‘techie’ or ‘geek’ by nature. But then in 2011 he met serial entrepreneurs Patrick de Laive and Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, the founders of The Next Web, and pivoted, as they like to say in Start-up Land. For the last ten years The Next Web has had a conference in Amsterdam and this is its original home: ‘Amsterdam has everything, all the shareholders, creativity and working parts to make it a hub of innovation,' says De Haan. 'There’s great access to resources and with tech giants like Google and Uber having their European...  More >

Amsterdam's EYE celebrates punk

Forty years on, Amsterdam’s EYE film venue celebrates punk It’s 40 years ago that punk first burst upon the public imagination and left its indelible mark on pop culture. The music, artists and, most of all, the attitude are celebrated later this month in a special programme of events at the EYE cinema in Amsterdam. Esther O’Toole finds out more. Lead programmer Ronald Simons freely admits that he didn’t know much about punk until a few months ago when, together with fellow programmer Anna Abrahams, they set out to devise FURY! Punk Culture for the EYE. ‘To begin with we asked ourselves is there a punk film movement?’ said Simons. ‘Our starting point was not the music but the films.’ They soon discovered that, like anything prefaced with ‘hippie’ in the years prior to punk, there were various movements within the movement and many different interpretations of the term. ‘Even today it’s difficult to say what punk is and the EYE doesn’t want to try and define it for audiences, but we will be asking every guest...  More >