BeST-NL project proposal

Project proposal for ‘Programmamiddelen Plus’

BeST-NL Logo
Image: ©Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul.

BeST-NL project proposal

Submitted by the embassies of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in China, Japan and South-Korea


We want this one-year program to be a catalyst for long-term cross-sectorial cooperation between creators in the East-Asian region and the Netherlands. The one-year program will result in a new, sustainable network of creators that collaborate in various ways and as such create a strong Dutch cultural sector in Asia (Doelstelling 1) . At the same time, the program will have shown the possibilities of cooperation between embassies in a region.

Executive summary

The embassies of Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo apply for the ‘programmamiddelen plus’ for the BeST-NL (Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo) program. The cultural sections of the three embassies cooperate to successfully implement Goal 1 of the ICP 2017-2020, thus contributing to a strong Dutch cultural sector in Asia.

BeST-NL is a program for innovation in cultural co-creation. BeST-NL will show in what ways young people are changing their methods of connecting and collaborating on an international scale—happening across and between sectors. By using three case-studies (Lokaal Internationaal, The Cool Ceramic Hunt, and Hello Asia), BeST-NL will document these methods and bring local and informal networks into the orbit of the embassies, International Cultural Policy (ICP) partners, and the creative field in NL as a whole. Additionally, this program, and the supported case studies, will introduce the NL creative landscape to the international community, further heightening the possibility, the potential for, and the efficacy of reciprocal cultural exchange. The case studies have been selected to participate in this program because they represent the clear demand from the Dutch cultural sector, and focus on different aspects of and approaches to cultural co-creation between East-Asia and the Netherlands.

The BeST-NL program consists of three mutually reinforcing methods: research, cultural co-creation and documentation. Researching the approaches of the three case studies will unveil innovations in, and methods of co-creation. By facilitating these various approaches to cultural co-creation, BeST-NL activates and stimulates self-sustaining local networks of young creatives to engage in international exchange. In so doing, empowering the existing global creative and cultural network. Documentation, through various mediums, informs and educates governmental and private institutions as well as individual creatives, professionals, and entrepreneurs about the new ways of international co-creation.

The timeframe of this proposal is May 2018 – May 2019, but the BeST-NL program and its case studies are multi-annual in their commitment and timelines. The one-year ‘programmamiddelen plus’ will create a solid basis from which the embassies, the ICP partners, and the creative and cultural sectors in NL and abroad can further innovate their existing approaches. Adapting to the shifting global situation will result in: expanding reciprocal networks of exchange, exemplifying and widely communicating the intrinsic social and economic value of culture, allowing for more strategic and custom-made methods and approaches, and improving international cultural understanding.

The direct results will be:

  • Expert meetings and ’cool hunt’ on Dutch and East-Asian ceramics benefiting the Dutch creative industry and cultural sector;
  • Documented (filmed) encounters with East-Asian socially engaged change makers and artists;
  • Theatre performance based on these encounters;
  • Pilot episode of Hello Asia documentary Creation of a BeST-NL “brand”;
  • Dedicated website for BeST-NL and related activities;
  • A map of cross-disciplinary cultural networks of young creators, including the non-institutionalized ones with the loci where the new generation of cross-discipline creators are mostly active;
  • Wide visibility of BeST-NL and its stakeholders in the Netherlands and East Asia;
  • Mini-festival / conference in Beijing with live-connection to Seoul and Tokyo;
  • Innovative online “workspace” for international co-creation;
  • Special visitors program connecting NL and 6 East Asian creative industry and cultural sector influencers (“hub creators”);
  • A serial publication (magazine, or series of books / catalogues, online videos) representing creatives and activities;
  • Series of expert meetings connecting NL and East Asian creatives and cultural in both NL and East Asia;
  • Two new, long-term international collaborations launched.

Dutch-Asian Cultural co-creation: Relevant and urgent

In the BeST-NL program, the three embassies join forces to build a comprehensive regional narrative that connects the historic tradition of cross-pollination in Dutch culture and arts to the current movement of creators pursuing co-creation in the region. BeST-NL also links the future potential of our typical Dutch design-approach to co-creation in facilitating innovation in the arts and creative industry.

Historically, the Netherlands has strong ties with the countries in this region dating back to the late 16th century when Dutch ships reached the shores of Asian countries for the first time. The VOC linked these countries through their multi-national trade, exchanging not just goods, but also culture, arts and knowledge.

This centuries-old exchange is very much alive today, in particular in the cultural sector. Dutch cultural institutes, artists and creators are active in China, South-Korea and Japan on their own initiative, but also on request of the Asian countries; Dutch (contemporary) culture has a solid reputation.

Now, as Asia rises and global power is drastically shifting, the embassies in China, Japan and Korea see a necessity and opportunity to explore new cultural connections between the Netherlands and the region, which go beyond simple exchange, and are mutually beneficial: cultural co-creation.

According to Richard Florida’s Global Creativity Index (2014), ten European countries rank among the top 15 creative centers in the world with the Netherlands in 10th place. The rise of the Dutch creative class comes from a very strong sense for cultural entrepreneurship with a desire for co-creation in its DNA.

Interestingly, according to UNESCO’s 2015 report The first global map of cultural and creative industries, it is not Europe but Asia who has the largest Cultural Creative Industry (CCI) market. Asia-Pacific (APAC) is the world’s biggest CCI market, generating US$743b of revenues (33% of global CCI sales) and 12.7 million jobs (43% of CCI jobs worldwide).

Furthermore, East-Asia is at the center of the world’s attention. Specifically, in the field of sports, the Olympics will take place in South Korea (2018), Japan (2020) and China (winter 2022). The Olympics and Paralympics are accompanied by elaborate and major cultural programs. These programs offer opportunities for the Dutch cultural sector to get the attention of large audiences beyond the hosting country or the Netherlands. More importantly, perhaps, as echoed in the hope for mutual cultural understanding through sportsmanship, the openness these events embody provides a sincere opportunity to create sustainable and longer term international collaborations.

Even though historical and present geo-political issues, on occasion, strain certain types of diplomatic relations between the three countries, the cooperation between the cultural sectors in the region remain strong and cultural cooperations continue to softens the relationships. The natural cultural link between Chinese, Japanese and Korean culture is recognized by their respective governments: promoting regional cultural cooperation through the establishment of the Culture City of East Asia program. In this program, each year one city in each of the three countries is appointed as cultural city. For 2018, the Culture Cities of East Asia are Kanazawa, Harbin, and Busan. Furthermore, representatives from the regions cultural sectors cooperate regularly for large-scale cultural events, such as art biennales, festivals etc.

Though the region has a deep and  clear historical relationship with the Netherlands, it is also important to note that in recent years the Netherlands and the region have developed important collaborations in the art and creative industries sectors. The Creative Residency Arita – funded by the Mondrian Fund and Creative Industries Fund, and with a clear  link to EKWC, a part of this program – is the representative example;  it represents a specific link between what has already been accomplished and what will be accomplished through the BeST-NL program. The Creative Residency Arita not only allows Dutch artists to collaborate with the finest ceramics craftsmen, but has also created the conditions for the Saga Holland House, another residency for which Studio The Future (also part of BeST-NL) selected the participants and is preparing the final exhibition. There is a clear momentum. This is not only true for Saga, or Japan, but can be extended to both China and Korea.

The enormous potential of artistic and cultural co-creation between the Asian region with the Netherlands provides mutually beneficial possibilities in learning from and inspiring each other, creating global common ground and creatively addressing shared social issues. As long as the sense of culture’s intrinsic social value is properly coupled with the motor of economic possibility, the potential for global cultural development and production is limitless. The existing momentum should not be lost.

The above mentioned aspects provide opportunities for the Dutch cultural sector to increase its ties with the region as a whole. Of course, there are also differences in the strategies of the country’s leaders, their political systems, openness and their perception of their own and other countries’ influence. Despite these differences, we can find common ground to cooperate through co-creation. Now is the time to invest in an overarching program exploring cultural co-creation by presenting the Netherlands as a solid cultural partner.

BeST-NL: Selection of Case Studies

Program Case Study Selection

Rather than developing new projects top down, the embassies choose to select case-studies from the cultural field that comply with a strict set of conditions and to build on their expertise, and thus fulfilling the role as stipulated in ICP 2017-2020 (header “rol van de overheid”). The embassies have identified the following conditions:

  • Cultural Co-creation: Projects in the BeST-NL program must be co-creative in content and process.
  • Geographical focus: the BeST-NL program focuses primarily on China, Japan and South Korea, and the Netherlands. Projects should explore co-creation between the Netherlands and preferably all three but at minimum one of these Asian countries.
  • Multi-disciplinary or Connecting disciplines: BeST-NL projects should be cross- or multidisciplinary in design and/or focus on connecting disciplines.
  • Concrete outcomes: Projects should have visible results which are communicated to local, Dutch and international audiences.
  • Sustainability and impact: Project results and outcomes should be sustainable and have a wide impact.
  • Planning: The BeST-NL program will run for one year from May 2018-May 2019.
  • Inclusive and open source: The program offers ample possibilities and means for other, new partners and projects to join and become part of the program. Projects cover several disciplines, but at all times possibilities for new linkages with each other and other disciplines will be taken into account. In addition to an inclusive attitude towards co-creation project partners must also be committed to practice an open source style production.Evaluations, processes, research, learnings and networks must be shared with the stakeholders in the program and be available for any interested parties in the future. 


The embassies have thus far designated three projects as case studies that fit the outlined objectives and meet the desired project profile of the program: The Cool Ceramic Hunt, Lokaal Internationaal, and Hello Asia!. These projects have been identified to be highly probable to succeed and are grounded in existing contacts and networks. Each project is appropriate and relevant in itself and combining the projects regionally they address all aspects of innovation in and through co-creation, add value to the whole program, and increase the local and international audience reach across disciplines.

These projects each have their own approach to co-creation: in The Cool Ceramic Hunt, two well-established Dutch ceramics organizations focus on institutional collaboration with Asian museums and institutions. This collaboration finds its base in MoUs and other formal agreements that have been set up between official partners such as ministries, provincial governments and embassies. This classic way of cooperating contrasts with the grass-roots, informal approach of Studio The Future focusing on collaboration between artists. Through their artist exchange program, they will develop a micro-biotope of Dutch and Asian artists belonging to the avant-garde of their various disciplines. The tight Dutch-Asian relationships that this method will produce, gives Dutch artists access to many valuable networks. Company New Heroes on the other hand focuses on the personal, targeting socially-engaged creative makers from the generation of millennials. Three theatre professionals, from: the Netherlands, South Korea and Taiwan; create and document cross-cultural encounters. We believe the three projects can benefit from each other’s approach to co-creation.

BeST-NL: Theme and Methodology

BeST-NL is a program for innovation in cultural co-creation. It is a complex program, because this central theme is addressed by various actors and from various angles  However, through cohesion in both theme and methodology we ensure a clear outcome, results and impact of the program.

Thematic Cohesion

The general theme permeates through all the activities of BeST-NL, laying a clear foundation and direction to the project. This theme, though it can be summed up as “innovation in cultural co-creation” comes to its full right when worded as the following set of questions:

In what ways do creative millennials innovate their ways of collaboration through their (informal) networks moving towards international cross-sectorial co-creation? In what manner do these ways of collaborating and networking facilitate new types of international co-creation and collaborative projects that go beyond traditional national borders, and what role does and can the Embassy and other ICP partners play in this changing cultural, creative, and industrial landscape?

This theme will be used as the foundation for all activities undertaken by BeST-NL (if it is by the embassies or by the case studies). This theme will be closely safeguarded first and foremost by the embassies, with support from the case studies.

Methodological Cohesion

Whereas the program’s thematic cohesion is clearly demonstrated by said set of central questions, the integral character of the program is also demonstrated on the methodological level. This is best summarized by wording one of the overarching goals of the program: “active impact programming / intervention” — the aspect of the program that focuses on developing and carrying out activities that are designed to engage its focus audiences. As this aspect of the program concerns implementing activities and direct intervention in the cultural field, it will be led by the case studies, with the close support and advice of the embassies and ICP partners (see ICP 2017-2020, under header “rol van de overheid”).

The applied methodology is threefold:


All three case studies are engaged in long term (multi-annual) practice based research. This research will continue during the BeST-NL program period within the context of the overall program, answering abovementioned set of central questions. Importantly, as the three case studies represent varying aspects and combinations of cultural and creative sectors, their approach, their resulting activities, and their resulting documentation will provide a varied program that will keep the year full of engaging content.

Lokaal Internationaal’s focus is on the development and further linking of informal creative and cultural networks of “hub creators” that have a great potential to operate on a multi-sectoral field. The networks, and the individuals / entities that comprise them are across the board high-potential operators, whose potential is further enlarged when they are linked to their international counterparts. In order for Lokaal Internationaal to succeed in its main goals, as outlined in the case study descriptions below, the team must continuously research — just to name a few things — who these “hub creators” are, what their position is on the cultural, creative and entrepreneurial landscape, who their counterparts are, and some new ways of bringing creatives together. In so doing, they contribute to addressing the central thematic questions with their unique approach, and provide indispensable support to the embassies, and ICP partners in the long run.

To find new ways to revitalize the ceramics industry in Japan, China and Korea, EKWC has set up various research projects and symposia over the years. The central aim of these projects is to define new guidelines that ceramists and the ceramic industry could follow. Based on these projects, EKWC’s Cool Ceramic Hunt, led by the renowned prof. dr. Carl Rohde, is a continuation of this endeavour. Ceramic Cool Hunts research approach is twofold: not only will it conduct several in-depth interviews with leading ceramic experts, it will also build a intricate network of more than sixty millenials from Japan, South Korea, China, The Netherlands and England who will systematically research how to make ceramics ‘cool’.

Hello Asia is currently on its first of two research journeys. After studying topics affecting Asia, such as urgent social issues in (mega)cities, such as social cohesion and civil society, health care and aging populations, environment and energy, social inequality and education, Hello Asia is now seeking out the young creatives and cultural networks that will shape their documentary series. Hello Asia’s research will contribute towards a better understanding of how East-Asian creatives are shaped by societal, economic and environmental issues and how their labour aims to address these issues.

Cultural Co-creation

Based on our respective research material, the BeST-NL case studies apply their newly acquired knowledge to co-create various projects. We expect that the results of each individual case study research will inform and inspire the co-creation of all the BeST-NL cases. For instance, creative influencers discovered by Lokaal Internationaal could feature in Hello Asia’s documentary; interviewees of Hello Asia could be invited to The Netherlands by Lokaal Internationaal; and the program developed by ECKW could provide interesting contacts and context for both.

Lokaal/Internationaal develops and executes new approaches for facilitating international cultural and creative (industry) exchange. A curated group of six ‘hub creators’ from Japan, China, and South Korea is invited to the Netherlands for a 4-5-day pressure cooker visitor’s program. Through a casual, though well-defined and directed, series of encounters with Dutch hub creators (representatives of the creative sector), a bond is created between the international group and their Dutch counterparts. This will lead to long term self-sustaining co-created projects of an international nature.

Together with parties from various sectors such as cultural center Pakhuis de Zwijger, the academic research center Leiden Asia Centre, Het Zuidelijk Toneel and other European and Asian partners, four artists (two actors, a theatre maker and a documentary director) have clasped hands to co-create the Hello Asia documentary series and Theater Lecture Performance. Not only is Hello Asia interested in a wide array of artists, the core of the production team and the contributing institutions are also very diverse.


To educate and inspire others to co-create in the future, BeST-NL will document its work in various ways.

Lokaal Interationaal’s collaborative projects will provide content for a presentation and a book for international distribution. The goal of these publications is to present to a wider audience within the creative sectors the possibilities of the international collaborations, across sectors, through concrete examples. In doing so, the selected project also garners a stronger base from which the collaboration can grow further.

Combining the knowledge of the young and old, the upcoming talents and the experienced and the naive and the knowledgeable, EKWC will create a new platform for co-creation called ‘Workspace’. Workspace is an attempt to extrapolate the shared willpower and knowledge of ceramists, researchers, industry leaders and production companies from different countries and disciplines into a digital platform. This platform is openly accessible and will educate other ceramists, producers from the ceramics industry, researchers and other interested parties about innovations in ceramics and the new ways that will make the East Asia ceramics industry flourish once again.

The Hello Asia documentary is an audiovisual documentation of how East-Asian millennial creatives grapple with societal, economic and environmental problems. Because the documentary series will be translated in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese and because it will be available online strongly increases its educational function: not only will English speaking audiences learn more about East Asian creatives and the issues that inform their ideas and work, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese audiences can also get inspired by the young creatives of their neighbouring countries, who despite their differences, are exposed to many of the same challenges.

BeST-NL in relation to ICP 2017 - 2020 and Multiyear Strategic Goals

The BeST-NL program contributes to the fulfillment of each participating embassy’s objectives as laid down in the framework of the International Cultural Policy and for which they receive funding for regular activities contributing to a ‘strong Dutch cultural sector abroad’ (objective 1 of ICP). It builds on the shared objectives of the embassies to:

  • Increase the Dutch cultural profile and the visibility of Dutch cultural expressions in the region and as such promotes the internationalization of the Dutch cultural sector.
  • Create new opportunities for international cultural cooperation and exchange with of the China, South Korea and Japan with the Netherlands.
  • Increase effectiveness of cultural events by sharing content among the embassies.

BeST-NL will contribute to the specific goals of each embassy as defined in their respective strategic plans:

  • For China, focus disciplines are creative industry and museum collaboration. Creative industry professionals will be part of all three projects, and the ceramics project builds new institutional ties between Dutch and Chinese museums.
  • For Japan, creative industries, visual arts and performing arts are focus disciplines in its ICP, and the activation of young and upcoming galleries and cultural hotspots for makers from the Netherlands; BeST-NL would contribute greatly to this activation.
  • For South Korea, focus disciplines are visual arts, performing arts, and creative industries with which the concerned projects collectively and respectively match well, and cooperation with the embassies in Tokyo and Beijing is mentioned in the plan to be beneficial for a stronger impact of international cultural policy.

The added value of the program is in the regional approach to:

  • Pursue projects reaching beyond exchange and reciprocity, but rather facilitate true co-creation.
  • Creating a new usable regional map and registry of cross disciplinary cultural networks including the non-institutionalized ones as these are the loci where the new generation of cross-discipline creators are mostly active.
  • Creating and communicating a truly contemporary and shared cultural story that reaches, inspires and connects existing and new Dutch,Chinese, Japanese, Korean and international audiences across disciplines and generations.
  • Promote an unique co-creative process between the embassies and cultural partners.


1. The Cool Ceramic Hunt  by Princessehof and EKWC


EKWC and Princessehof, both BIS institutions, cooperating with ceramics specialists, curators, museums in East-Asia


Visual arts, creative industry, (shared cultural) heritage.

Project: The Cool Ceramics Hunt & travelling exhibition

All concerned countries in the program have a strong ceramics tradition, both historically and on-going. These ties between ceramic history, institutions and artists in the Netherlands and the East are a fertile base to continue and strengthen relationships between these countries. For the BeST-NL program, Princessehof and EKWC are investigating co-creative possibilities in existing projects/activities with a focus on the region. These are:

The Cool Ceramics Hunt

The Cool Ceramic Hunt is a project in which Princessehof and EKWC connect professionals from the ceramics industry, designers and museums in a European-Asian context. It will be conducted among creative makers with an average age under 30. It consists of expert meetings followed by trend research in Europe and Asia. The Cool Ceramic Hunt culminates in a symposium that will be held in Leeuwarden in October 2018 during a larger ceramics convention that has already been planned. EKWC is part of the community of the best ceramic residencies in the world, among those in China, South Korea and Japan. Following the first edition in 2016, EKWC and Princessehof will organize an international ceramics conference as part of the Culture capital 2018.  The convention brings international experts and stakeholders together to discuss the future of traditional ceramics producers. For this event they plan to specifically invite traditional Japanese, Korean and Chinese producers to participate.

Travelling Exhibition ‘MADE IN HOLLAND’

The exhibition Migrating Ceramics is part of the 2018 Leeuwarden Cultural Capital Program. It explores the dynamics of exchange in culture on the basis of the development and distribution of ceramic techniques and products, with a central role for the Netherlands. The exhibition presents four chapters in Dutch ceramic history, spanning circa 400 years: Delfts Blauw, Creamware, Art Nouveau and Dutch Design.

Within BeST-NL, Princessehof will further develop the exhibition to make it attractive for museums in Japan, South Korea and China. This version will have an experimental co-creative open set-up. It is based on the in-house collection of Princessehof and invites hosting and partnering museums to complement the Dutch design chapter of the exhibition with local examples of this design esthetic. The results of the ‘cool hunt’ will also be reflected in the exhibition.

Because the ‘programmamiddelen plus’ is restricted to use in one year’s time, the actual touring of the exhibition falls outside the scope of this proposal. Princessehof is in contact with the Kyushu museum of Ceramics for the fall of 2019, and is investigating possibilities to bring the concept to China and Korea in 2020.


Participants Cool Hunt:
Prof dr Carl Rohde (NLD)
Kris Callens, directeur Fries Museum (NLD)

Yvonne Kooi, directeur Royal Goedewagen (NLD)

Thomas Eyck, directeur TE (NLD)

Kevin Oakes, CEO Royal Crown Derby (UK)

David McGravie, Head of School of Arts, University of Derby (UK)

Kiyoshi Soejima, head Design SCRL (JPN)

Takaharu Hamano, design director promoduction (JPN)

Shinji Terra-Uchi, Representative Director Risogama (JPN)

Noriyuki Momota, CEO 1616 Arita (JPN)

Akatsu Takashi, director Saga University (JPN)

Imaemon Imaizuni XIV, living national treasure (JPN)

Hanju Jung, curator Koreaanse Keramiek Biennale (ROK)

Shin Kim, curator Koreaanse Keramiek Biennale (ROK)

Ji Wanwei, directeur Taoxichuan, Jingdezhen (CHN)

Wang Guanli, projectleider JAEA, Jingdezhen (CHN)

Yoriko Ishizawa, coordinator Arita Creative Residency (JPN)


Nationaal Keramiek Museum, Leeuwarden (NLD)

Leeuwarden Culturele Hoofdstad (NLD)

Europees Keramisch Werkcentrum, Oisterwijk NLD)

Saga Prefecture (JPN)

Saga Ceramic Research Laboratory (JPN)

GICB, Incheon (ROK)

Taoxichuan, Jingdezhen (CHN)

Sustainable Results

The Cool Ceramic Hunt is part of a masterprogram (2016-2022) to give new impulse to the ceramic industry by involving artists and designers to create in close relationship with the urban manufacturers other ways of producing, using or marketing to achieve turn-around of the industry. At the symposium in Arita 2016 the main topics and perspectives were discussed, in Leeuwarden 2018 the next step concentrates on future casting and in 2020 in Arita the third symposium will focus on results and impact.


Japan, China and Korea have a very strong ceramic tradition. Having said this the industry in Japan and Korea are suffering from the low wage countries like Vietnam and Indonesia. Even China considers itself as a postindustrial country and is searching for new ways to find a market. Creativity is key. To enhance this, many artists-in-residencies are starting up, often with support of a local government. The Cool Hunt and the symposia are bringing urban manufacturers in Japan, China and Korea in contact with international artists and designers.

2. lokaal/internationaal by studio the future


Lokaal Internationaal is conceived and led by Amsterdam based Studio The Future.


Visual arts, creative industry, film, design, music, event organization, artist in residences.


Studio The Future has been active in Asia, with a special focus on Japan, for over 5 years organizing exhibitions, artist in residence programs, workshops, lectures series, publications, and international exchange / cultural co-creation often in close collaboration with a broad and multi-sectoral network of cultural and creative innovators and “hub-creators” as well as local governments, cultural organizations, creative industry, and companies with an explicit focus on the intrinsic social value of culture.

With Lokaal/Internationaal, Studio The Future is developing a new approach and framework for facilitating international cultural and creative (industry) exchange, with a focus on multidisciplinary creators within the micro and small enterprise segment, who as of now are still underrepresented within cultural policy and cultural exchange programs.

This project is a natural development, rooted in the deep demand and need of the international cultural and creative fields that exist outside of formal and institutional frameworks to work closer, for the long term, through sustainable collaborations. Rather than emphasise the difference between sectors and networks, this project brings the various networks (across sectors and between formal / institutional and informal / underground actors) together to show the mutual benefits and inherent possibilities.

The goals of Lokaal Internationaal are achieved through:

  • intensive field research,
  • curation of high potential creative (informal) networks which are activated for the purpose of introducing various as of yet unconnected networks to each other through a intensive visitation program,
  • series of expert meetings, which result in high visibility, long-term and sustainable international collaborations,
  • which are launched with an exhibition or showcase in the associated countries,
  • accompanied by dedicated publications,
  • online media coverage
  • and distributed through diverse owned, partner, third-party media outletsto achieve the greatest impact possible.

These international collaborations, after being launched, feed back into the growing Lokaal Internationaal network, providing further access for new projects, mentorship and engagement. Each launch is not the end, but the beginning of a self-sustaining collaboration beyond borders and across sectors.

The goal is not to only create economic or finance-focused collaborations, but more importantly to create collaborations that are based upon mutual responsibility, trust,  and a deep understanding of the intrinsic social and cultural value of creating together.


Goals of the project are:

  • creating a new opportunity for members of the creative and cultural fields in the Netherlands to reach and collaborate with their international counterparts in a more flexible and reciprocal manner;
  • providing better access for the Dutch embassies and institutions to a broad and highly active group of international ‘hub creators’;
  • increasing the variety of collaborations and their embeddedness in international cultural and creative scenes.


Building upon several years of intensive creative and cultural investment, Studio The Future has decided to open up its expansive network in East Asia to develop long term and self-sustaining international collaborations between NL and the world. The focus has been on Japan for the last few years, but from 2017 the focus has started to shift to include East Asia as a whole.

Lokaal Internationaal ran a successful pilot in 2017, by applying its methodology to the developing project Tokyayo, initiated by Steven van Lummel and Pepijn Lanen. This resulted in a wide range of collaborations with local artists, from fine arts to music, which was presented through an exhibition and a book launched in Tokyo in December 2017. As of now, this project is being developed further, together with Fuji Instax.

Also as part of the 2017 pilot, three key figures from the Japanese creative/cultural field, were introduced to the Amsterdam creative scene. This resulted in an intensive expert meeting / brainstorm with Dutch and Japanese participants in Tokyo in December 2017, on how the Japanese and Dutch nightculture can collaborate in the coming years. As an additional result, a Japanese publication, Quotation Magazine, featured an extensive 60 page introduction to the creative scene in Amsterdam titled ‘Amsterdam New Wave’. The issue was launched in Tokyo in March 2018 with an exhibition in collaboration with Beams Japan — Japan’s largest and most respected high-end fashion retailer and cultural tastemaker.

The pilot in 2017 clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of Lokaal Internationaal’s methodology and approach. The medium-term impact is that a follow-up exhibition of the Amsterdam New Wave will be held in Kyushu with a further focus on two or three featured creatives. Direct long-term impact of the pilot is that Beams has agreed to continue to work together, providing resources for Lokaal Internationaal as a whole.

Based on the aforementioned research and the success of the 2017 pilot in Japan, Lokaal Internationaal will further embed itself within the Japanese cultural scene, using its existing network and methodology to expand its field of operation into Korea and China. With the support of BeST-NL, Lokaal Internationaal will undertake the following activities:

— A curated group of six ‘hub creators’ from Japan, China, and South Korea will be invited to the Netherlands for a 4-5-day pressure cooker visitor’s program. Through a casual, though well-defined and directed, series of encounters with Dutch hub creators, a bond is created between the international group and their Dutch counterparts. This bond is developed further by meeting again, throughout the 4 days in the Netherlands. (See appendix 3 for a detailed example of a visitor’s program.) For the selection of Dutch participants, focus will be placed on a specific group, the Dutch New Wave - as introduced in 2017. This group consists almost completely of artists that work cross-disciplinary and can be identified as high-potential cultural influencers.

— Following this initial program, Dutch hub creators who have shown a clear link and mutual intent to collaborate with their international counterpart are invited to take part in a second three-day program in the respective country (China, Japan, or South Korea). This will include a showcase of sorts, a social moment such as a reception, and an expert meeting / brainstorm with a broader selection of participants. The focus of the conversation is collaboration, and how the groups can strengthen each other. This expert/brainstorm meeting may be recorded to be placed online to communicate the development of the cycle.

— Based on the links that are created during the two visitor’s programs, the Lokaal Internationaal team mediates and facilitates possible longer-term collaborations. Over the course of a few months, plans are made to launch the collaborations (the specific location varying based on the needs of the project). The Lokaal International team follows up with both the Dutch as well as the International participants, and where necessary moderates the development of concrete collaborative plans. Based on the plans and the schedule, Lokaal Internationaal will provide nominal financial support to be used for production and execution of the public launch of the collaborative project.

— Collaborative projects will provide contents for a presentation and a book for international distribution. The goal of this book is to present to a wider audience within the creative sectors the possibilities of  international collaborations, across sectors, through a concrete example. In so doing, the selected project also garners a stronger base from which the collaboration can grow further. (See appendix 3 for a possible time-line for the project.)

Makers and Participants

Hub Creators / Influencers:
ORDER (NLD) - creative industry


Hangfeng Chen (CHN) -

Bonne Reijn (NLD) - fashion, fine art

Aukje Dekker (NLD) - visual artist organizer

Olya Oleinic (NLD) - photography

Koen Tossijn (NLD) - fashion

Duran Lantink (NLD) - fine art, design

Koichi Sei (JPN) - fine art, music

JEMAPUR (JPN) - music, fine art


Tsuubit Ishii (JPN) -

Children of the Light (NLD) - fine art, design

Shady El-Hamus (NLD) - film

Mick Johan (NLD) -

Kim David Bots (NLD) - fine art

Bas Hendrikx (NLD) - curator

Yukihiro Shodo (JPN) - film

Satoshi Takahashi (JPN) - film

Nampei Akaki (JPN) - fine art

Ayumi Suzuki (JPN) - curator

Anne Claire de Breij (NLD) - photography

Chida Yasuhiro (JPN) -

Sawako Fukai (JPN) - publisher

Tamae Hirokawa (JPN) - fashion

Akira Kuroki (JPN) -art

Tsu Zing (CHN) - music

Pan Daijing (CHN) - music

Organizations / Companies:

Beams Japan - creative industry

Wacko Maria (JPN) - creative industry

World Holdings (JPN) - creative industry

Quotation Magazine (JPN) - publishing

Onomichi AIR (JPN) - fine art

Paradise AIR (JPN) - fine art

MAT Nagoya (JPN) - fine art

Gemeente Amsterdam (NLD) - government

Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (JPN) - fine art, government

Utrecht / NOW IdEA (JPN) - creative industry

De School (NLD) - creative industry

Garage Noord (NLD) - music

AAC TOKYO (JPN) - fine art

ZO-NO-HANA (JPN) - creative industry


NOS:BOOKS (CHN) - publishing)

CORNERS (ROK) - design

Unagi no Nedokoro (JPN) - creative industry

Red Light Radio (NLD) - music

Randian (CHN) - online

All (CHN) - music

Elevator (CHN) - music

INTRO Festival (CHN) - music

Sustainable Results / Long-term Impact

Concrete results:

  • A serial publication to be released multiple times through the year;
  • Exhibitions and collaboration launches;
  • Exhibition and collaboration catalogues;
  • Content for the BeST-NL mini-festival / conference.

Though the program focuses on the starting point for international collaborations, each successfully launched long term-collaboration is expected to continue to work with Lokaal Internationaal and to provide support and mentorship for others involved.

An example of this is the work done by Lokaal Internationaal since October last year, where they have reached a very wide ranged audience by working together, and having the resulting projects in turn contribute to companies and media such as Quotation Magazine (JP), Beams (JP), Fuji Film / Instax, Vice Media (NL), Nagasaki Prefecture Museum (JP), Bar Bonobo (JP), Atheneum Bookstore (NL), for which physical objects and products, lectures, exhibitions, editorial, publications, video content, and online content  was created and shared broadening the reach of the collaborative projects. As is clear, through this method it is possible to create a huge impact globally through minimum financial investment.

In the context of the ‘programmamiddelen plus’, the project has been restricted to one year. Originally the plan was to have more cycles and 2019 and 2020 with a grande finale in Asia in 2020. Though ‘programmamiddelen plus’ restricts its support to one year, Lokaal Internationaal will continue until at least the fall of 2020. Lokaal Internationaal will take part in programs leading upto the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

3. Hello asia by company new heroes


Company New Heroes, which receives a ‘meerjarige projectsubsidie’ from Fonds Podiumkunsten, which also covers for the larger Hello Asia project (see a teaser here: ).

Hello Asia is a co-creative production by New Heroes with parties from various cultural disciplines including Copperviews, Het Zuidelijk Toneel, cultural center Pakhuis de Zwijger, academic research Leiden Asia Center, and other European and Asian partners and creative hubs such as: Underdogs (Seoul), Bottle Dream (Shanghai), Loftwork (Tokyo), BudsTheatre (Singapore), Hope Institute (Seoul) Big Footprint Studio(Beijing), Change Makers Network Hong Kong, Impact Hub Taipei, Make a Difference Asia.

The artists co-creating in this project are New Heroes artistic director Lucas De Man (Belgium/Netherlands), choreographer and theatre maker Hyunsin Kim (South Korea/Germany) and documentary director Joep van Osch (NL) in collaboration with many Asian creatives from Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Singapore.


Documentary film, creative industry, performing arts, media arts.


New Heroes has already received a four-year grant from Fonds Podiumkunsten for a proposal that includes ‘Hello Asia’. This is a comprehensive international media art project connecting young innovative creators of Asia and Europe. The project explores how social innovation driven by the creative millennial or the post 80’s and 90’s generation creates new global common ground.  In Hello Asia, New Heroes look beyond the ancient and modern occidental and oriental clichés, to find a new shared cultural story that inspires and connects the upcoming creative generation in Europe and Asia.

In the first phase of the multi-year Hello Asia project New Heroes collaborates with various partners to produce an online documentary series and lecture performances. These productions are developed in such a way that they can be combined into an (international) impact program.

1.Concept Web series,  10 episodes, 22 mins. Please see the teaser here:

Hello Asia is a documentary series meant to inspire European and Asian viewers by showcasing innovative projects and activities being developed by an upcoming creative generation of social change makers in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Singapore. The documentary taps into the up to now underexposed but already existing unique potential in these cities as a force for global social progress. Which provides the common ground for a new/modern shared narrative between East and West.

The series is directed by Joep van Osch and produced by Copperviews. We follow Lucas De Man (Belgium/The Netherlands) and Hyunsin Kim (Germany/South Korea) as curious heroes on their quest to find fellow change makers in Asia who aim for social innovation. Lucas and Hyunsin are friends and share the global generational challenge: how to build a civil, creative, inclusive and sustainable society? They want to meet their peers in Asia, find out who they are and learn about what they’re doing.

The documentary:
1) portrays the upcoming creative generation of Asian change makers (education and information).
2) inspires people globally about social progress (inspiration and motivation).
3) unites and connects people East and West (humanity and common ground).

Every episode centres around one social theme/issue. The leading questions are challenges we find in Asia and Europe. A few examples of stories we’re developing (NB please note these are just working titles):
How to be an (Asian) Change maker? An insight and context into social innovating/ change making in Asia
How to organise our mega-cities? Building a strong civil society
How to live in megacities? Public space, transportation, housing
How to include the Other? Striving for social cohesion and equality
Shaping social structures. Influence of Media & Technology on social relationships
Rethinking work and education in the 4th industrial revolution (AI)

Tackling mental and physical health challenges in Generation “Burnout”
How to live on the environmental edge? Big problems need big ideas.
Ageing and how to take care of all our elderly?

Each episode will present around 2-3 change makers and their project as a sort of inspirational case study. And includes interviews with experts to add necessary context to the theme.
The Change Makers are young people aged between 20 and 40 from any disciplines or creative cross-disciplines. They have a running project that fits in any of the episodes/themes and they speak English.

(Please see appendix for an abbreviated artistic vision of the documentary series)

2.Lecture Performance
The performances are developed by theatre makers Lucas De Man and Hyunsin Kim in collaboration with Het Zuidelijk Toneel. The journeys and meetings with peers and experts and collected footage provide material for 2 lecture performances. In these lectures Lucas and Hyunsin aim to provide more context to the current relation between Europe and Asia from historical and cultural perspective. Does the apparent clash between modern (Western) Enlightenment values and traditional Confucianist ethical traditions still apply? Does the East really  look to the West for inspiration? And what’s Europe’s current diagnosis when it comes to Yellow Fever?

Together with dramaturg Piet Menu (Het Zuidelijk Toneel), Lucas and Hyunsin develop a format in which they’ll develop 2 versions of a lecture performance. One performed by Lucas, the other by Hyunsin. Each solo offers different perspectives on the same story: man/woman, Western/Asian, history/present day. In the performances Lucas and Hyunsin take their audience on the process they experienced on the journey, their personal search, fears, clichés, discoveries and the people they met who inspired them.

The performance lectures will be developed in several languages and are designed to tour internationally. (Please see appendix 4 for more information.)

3. Concept Hello Asia Impact Program
New Heroes aims to present a program of eigth live Hello Asia Sessions in creative hubs in Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore and Amsterdam simultaneously by connecting the hubs through live stream. In these eigth global sessions Lucas and Hyunsin present a new episode of the documentary series live from Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam. Immediately after the viewing we continue discussing the episode and its theme in a live global Meet-Up or talk show setting. This program could include the change makers portrayed in the episode, additional guest-speakers or experts and Q/A with the audience. Local audiences and those present via live stream in the connected hubs can respond directly and ask questions. Viewers following online can also post their responses and questions live via social media. Each session is organized and hosted by a different city, a different hub.

Hello Asia Team

Artistic director Hello Asia; Lucas De Man (Nieuwe Helden)

Business manager Hello Asia; Wouter Goedheer (Nieuwe Helden)

Project coordinator and researcher Hello Asia; Kimberly Major (Nieuwe Helden)

Director documenty series; Joep van Osch

Impact producer and community building; Machteld Vinkenborg

Production company documentary; Ilja Kok (Copper Views)

Line producer documentary; Anjet Blinde (Copper Views)

Camera; Pepijn Robben (Full Frame)

Sound; Kevin Marijnissen

Performer; Lucas De Man

Performer; Hyunsin Kim (ROK)

Dramaturgy performance; Piet Menu

Please see appendix 4 for more information

Mayor Seoul City; Park Won-soon (ROK)

Politician; Shin Ji-Ye (ROK)

Change maker Sodam Cho, founded the online platform DotFace (ROK)

Artist Woops Yang - founder of the Space Out Competition (ROK)

Artist Byeong; Sam Jeon (ROK)

Artist and architect; Soo-In Yang (ROK)

Names of JPN and CHN to be added


In April and June 2018, the Euro-Asian creative team will travel to South East Asia and interview young key figures and change makers active in various fields, showcasing their projects based in several (East) Asian cities, such as Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Singapore, Taipei, Seoul and Tokyo.

The two journeys through Asia will provide research and video material for several audiovisual productions to be developed in 2018 and 2019 for international, European and Asian audiences. Company New Heroes will create a 10-episode online documentary series, subtitled for Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean audiences and two theatre shows (lecture performances) in which Lucas and Hyunsin share their initial insights. The performance will premiere in September 2018 in the Netherlands. The performances will be flexible in that they can be presented in theatres as well as auditoriums or other types of venues, in Asia and Europe. The collaboration between the hubs for the Impact program is coordinated by New Heroes Impact Producer and community manager Machteld Vinkenborg. In the summer of 2018, Machteld will do some preliminary tests with hubs in Japan and China. Representatives from hubs in all the cities will then co-create a format for the Hello Asia Nights in the fall of 2018/spring 2019.

The project also aims to deliver material for an episode of Tegenlicht (in collaboration with VPRO) in October 2018. The second phase of the of the multi-year Hello Asia project is a production for Asian visitors to Amsterdam, made in co-creation with Asian artists encountered on the journeys: a dramatic encounter that goes beyond the traditional Kodak moments and shopping trips, that touches on a personal level and acts as a catalyst for intercultural dialogue. This will be development in 2019 and will premiere in 2020.

Sustainable Results

Within the BeST-NL program, the following activities will be carried out:

  • The two journeys to Asia to do research and film the interviews with Asian change makers;
  • One pilot episode of the documentary;
  • The creation of a theatrical performance based on the encounters in Asia. Premiere in the Netherlands September 2018 followed by a short tour, including audience programs organized in collaboration with Pakhuis de Zwijger and Leiden Asia Centre.

The pilot episode will be used to find and commit Dutch and Asian partners for co-producing and broadcasting the full series. (Vice APEC has already expressed interest amongst others) With these partners they will develop the rest of the documentary series. New Heroes aims to present the results in Asia in 2019 and 2020, by having the theatre production travel to our three countries and by having the documentary (series) screen in festivals. Local interest for this has already been expressed.

BeST-NL: Sustainability & inclusiveness

The starting point of BeST-NL is a multi-annual approach and aims at fostering sustainable and reciprocal exchanges. This proposal is limited to a period of one year due to the conditions of the ‘programmamiddelen plus’, but the objective of all stakeholders is that this program will be a catalyst for long-term regional cooperation, research, building and mapping networks. The embassies have the intention to cooperate in the BeST-NL program until 2020. The owners of the projects also have their eyes on a point further on the horizon as their respective project descriptions show. In short, the ‘programmamiddelen plus’ will function as a kickstart and provide the starting capital to solidify the program and the long-term nature of the projects.

BeST-NL offers ample possibilities and means for other, new partners and projects to join and become part of the program. We would like to make sure that the networks and brand that are created within BeST-NL are also available to other cultural actors and therefore propose to create an entry in the budget as ‘seed money’ for new initiatives. Several initiatives that have already emerged during our research:
- convocation of participants of artist in residencies of IFP (Beijing), MMCA (Seoul), AIT/Arita Creative Residency (Tokyo/Japan) – a suggestion by the Mondrian Fund. This would also be a meaningful follow-up for the ‘programmamiddelen’ NEDxPO2018 of the embassy in Seoul.
- Dutch electronic music label ‘Field Records’ is active in China, Japan and South Korea and will tour in April in Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei.

BeST-NL: Communication Strategy

For the BeST-NL program, we focus on these target groups:

  • Asian and European millennials with a cosmopolitan outlook on life (high-potentials);
  • Asian and European social innovators and artists;
  • Asian and European influencers and selectors;
  • Global citizens;
  • Culture lovers;
  • Creative Industry Focused Enterprises;

The BeST-NL program will provide visibility to the three case studies, provide the overarching narrative and act as a brand that all projects use in their communications at home and abroad. For this general brand, we will have a unifying logo created that will be used for all BeST-NL activities, a communication toolkit with images and short texts, and online platforms such as a dedicated webpage in the postenweb for reference and shared Instagram page.

Existing Owned Outlets

The three embassies all have dedicated public diplomacy and/or communication professionals who are experienced in showcasing Dutch cultural activities in their respective countries. They will take care of press notifications to media networks in their regions. Communication will be mostly done through existing channels (embassy Twitter, Blog, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook accounts), that have already gained large numbers of followers. For China, also Weibo and WeChat will be used. A webpage with basic information about the program (which projects are involved, who should you contact if you want to join) will be placed on the embassies’ website, so that there is a place to refer people to. The embassies will also create about 4 newsletters to inform their own (cultural) networks. The three case studies will use their own communication channels/professionals who will make use of the BeST-NL brand.

Specifically for BeST-NL each of the case studies will explore various media to communicate the activities as well as to disseminate their results. This will include online platforms (unified through the BeST-NL brand), printed matter, online newsletters, extensive use of social media, and public activities.

Third-party Owned Outlets

However, the best strategy is to have others tell your story for you. That is why the case studies all focus on strong local partners who have their own communication channels to reach their specific target audiences. The BeST-NL communication toolkit will be given to these local partners (e.g. venues, local operators, the artists who will be interviewed) so that they can easily use them in their own communication channels. A clear example of what this means is, as mentioned in the case study description of Lokaal Internationaal, since October last year, where Lokaal Internationaal has been able to reach a very wide ranged audience by working together, and having the resulting projects in turn contribute to companies and media such as Quotation Magazine (JP), Beams (JP), Fuji Film / Instax, Vice Media (NL), Nagasaki Prefecture Museum (JP), Bar Bonobo (JP), Atheneum Bookstore (NL), for which physical objects and products, lectures, exhibitions, editorial, publications, video content, and online content  was created and shared broadening the reach of the collaborative projects. As is clear, through this method it is possible to create a huge impact globally through minimum financial investment.

As there exist many different possibilities for communication along various channels, and although more is always better, priority will be placed on quality content focused communication. This will ensure that the audience will stay engaged and interested in not only activities and results within this one year, but also for the coming years.

In the Netherlands, we request the help of the ICP-partners (especially Mondriaan Fonds, Fonds Podiumkunsten, Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie and The New Institute) and DutchCulture to give attention to the program in their newsletters.

Organizational structure

The three embassies establish and develop  the BeST-NL program in which they support the operators of the case studies by providing financial support, giving access to their network and providing visibility and coordinate the different activities and the overall communication strategy.

The funds and institutes (ICB-uitvoerders)  will be called upon for advice on the contents and feasibility of the projects and for support in creating visibility for BeST-NL. We also hope that the funds will come up with initiatives that will provide new content for BeST-NL.

DutchCulture (Campaign and Production) (will be asked to) provide support to draw attention to the program in the Netherlands. Furthermore, as DutchCulture governs the ‘programmamiddelen plus’ the actual financial structure and proceedings should be dealt with by DutchCulture.






Overall communication / branding


Programmamiddelen plus


Case Study 1: Lokaal/Internationaal


Contribution NL embassy Beijing


Case Study 2:Hello Asia


Contribution NL embassy Seoul


Case Study 3: The Cool Ceramics Hunt


Contribution NL embassy Tokyo


BeST-NL Mini-festival/Conference 2019





Appendix 1 Activities Timeline

21 September, soft launch of BeST-NL in the framework of the premiere of ‘De Man in Azie’ @ Pakhuis de Zwijger
26 October, International Ceramics Convention, Cool Ceramic Hunt presentation @ Leeuwarden, Innovative online “workspace” for international co-creation launched
Mid-October — International guests program for ‘hub-creators’ to The Netherlands.
End October / beginning November release of Annual Lokaal Internationaal Magazine — covering the activities of 2017 as well as communicating the plans for Winter / Spring 2018 / 2019.
End November/December — Dutch Hub creators visitor’s program to BeST

December - February — Based on visitor’s programs, development of collaborative projects.
March - May — Launch of international collaborative projects that result from cycle 1.
April/May - Mini-festival / conference in Beijing with live-connection to Seoul and Tokyo; presentation of map of cross-disciplinary cultural networks of young creators, including the non-institutionalized ones with the loci where the new generation of cross-discipline creators are mostly active;
May - June — Publication of dedicated project publication and international distribution.

Throughout program
Serial publication (magazine, or series of books / catalogues, online videos) representing creatives and activities;
Program of eigth live Hello Asia Sessions in creative hubs in Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore and Amsterdam simultaneously

Documented (filmed) encounters with East-Asian socially engaged change makers and artists;

Date TBC

Theatre performance based on the encounters of Hello Asia;

Pilot episode of Hello Asia documentary

Series of expert meetings connecting NL and East Asian creatives and cultural in both NL and East Asia.

Follow-up after end of programmamiddelen plus
Follow-up on two new, long-term international collaborations launched during program period
Autumn 2019 Made in Holland exhibition in Saga Ceramics Museum followed by Korea and China
Autumn 2020 International Ceramics Convention in Arita

* cover image: the so-called ensou, a hand-drawin circle, is a Buddhist practice in the Ch’an (CH), Seon (ROK), Zen (JP) school to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create. The symbol is also recognized in the West to represent human creativity and unity.