It is the year 1818 and poverty looms over the Netherlands. General Johannes van den Bosch wants to turn the tide with so-called agriculture trial colonies. During Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018, the bicentennial of his Society of Humanitarianism is celebrated. This includes, among others, visual arts manifestation 'IntoNature' and music theatre 'Welstaat'.

General Van Den Bosch believed in the Verlichtingsideaal: that man can elevate himself by making the most out of the nature and world that surround him. He wanted to give poor families a better chance at life and had them move to Drenthe, where with others they formed a colony and cultivated the harsh lands.

Border region
Four of the seven Colonies of Humanitarianism emerged in the border region of Friesland and Drenthe, in the neighbourhood of Frederiksoord. The monumental buildings of the Colonies and the surrounding nature of the Drents-Friese Wold set the stage for the cultural programmes of 2018.

Musical theatre Welstaat
In the musical theatre 'Welstaat', the connection is established between two hundred years ago and now. Between the utopian idea of eradicating poverty through colonies and the unruly reality of today, in which poverty still exists. Visual theatre and various musical styles take the audience through the different Colonies, towards a grand finale. ‘Welstaat’ will be performed in September by the Kameroperahuis.

International exhibition IntoNature
In addition, the Colonial areas will be home to the 'IntoNature' exhibition. Visitors follow a route with captivating works by international artists like Katie Paterson, Edward Clysdale Thomson, Herve Youmbi, Susan Philipsz, Heather en Ivan Morison, Sarah van Sonsbeeck, Anne Geene and Roderick Hietbrink.

The exhibition is spread over three locations: the Holtingerveld, one of the darkest places of the Netherlands, the colony in Frederiksoord, and the former School of Horticulture, one of the first places in the world to show ‘indoor nature’. Together, these locations depict the tension between nature and culture, dark and light, control and freedom.

UNESCO World Heritage site
2018 looks to cater to another highlight: the definite granting of the Colonies of Humanitarianism as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The final decision will be announced in July. The programme will be made public once the accreditation has been made final.

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