Kumulus – a hill, a cloud? A painting, a dance!
November 3, 2009 1 Comment
Just as the cumulus cloud brings good weather, the name of the Kumulus art centre lightens up many faces in and around Maastricht. Not that it has anything to do with clouds though!
The art centre was established in 1993 when the local music school, dating back from 1883, merged with a creativity centre which focused mainly on classical arts.
As a municipal institution, Kumulus carries out the art and culture policy of the city of Maastricht.
The syllable “Ku” from the Dutch word “Kunst” (art) and the syllable “Mu” from the Dutch word “Muziek” (music) were brought together to form the new name Kumulus.
Director Jan Tuinstra draws a precise picture of the modern dimensions of the organization: “The two buildings, the music school in St. Maartenspoort and the art centre in Herbenusstraat, accommodate courses for about 5000 participants per year. About 2000 of them follow individual or group music lessons. Children can start taking music lessons as of age 4.”
Kumulus director Jan Tuinstra
(background photo: Kumulus pupils playing with the Andre Rieu orchestra)
“We have 80 participants in creative art courses, like painting and drawing or for instance photography and creative writing. The youth theatre school “Partoet”, which joined the organization in the year 2000, works with 350 young actors on various productions. Our ballet school “Impuls” at the location Brusselsestraat educates 1100 dancers of different ages every year.“
“Kumulus is primarily known for its courses, yet we offer a much bigger range of activities“, explains Tuinstra. “One of the pillars of our philosophy is that all children need to be able to get in contact with arts and culture. A project that Kumulus is supporting, the “Kunstketel”, reaches many children in Maastricht’s Wittevrouwenveld neighbourhood.”
“Our teachers also give workshops in various schools and our centre offers about 10.000 children in Maastricht and surroundings the possibility to be active in art themselves. At the Kumulus “children’s academy” children aged 3-4 can paint (together with their mums), when they’re 6-7 they can paint and draw, make jewelry and dance. Many children also celebrate their birthday parties filled with fun activities at Kumulus.”
“For older children (and adults) we have for instance a course in bandcoaching. At the moment there are 18 bands that follow a hands-on training of 16 weeks. The bands are sometimes groups of friends and sometimes just players of different instruments who are matched together according to their age and their instruments. There is a big band and the Vitz kids, a youth big band where talented youngsters perform throughout the Netherlands.
Painting by ©Stuart Woodburn, on the theme “Typically Dutch”
Tuinstra reveals yet another area of interest that his organization focuses on: through the department “Bureau amateurkunsten” (“Office for amateur arts”) amateur artists can receive advice, facilities and support with subsidies to realize their own ideas and projects. A successfull example for this approach is the photo competition in association with Centre Céramique.
For its talent education programme Kumulus works together with the music conservatory in Maastricht. Talented students need to do an audition to be admitted to the programme. The conservatorium teaches masterclasses to these students and prepares them to perform in public.
Kumulus is also open for new ideas for courses. These often come from participants and instructors. Courses can often be set up within a short term when the number of participants is sufficient.
Is there anything that darkens this bright picture? Jan Tuinstra smiles: “Yes! Every April, when our course season finishes after 26 weeks of hard work, our participants complain that their course has ended because they still have plenty of inspiration to go on.”
The course season is always rounded off with a finissage to exhibit the participants’ work. Families and friends join them at Herbenusstraat and the whole building transforms into a giant art gallery.
Although there are no classic art courses that are entirely taught in English many foreigners register to lessons at Kumulus. Painting classes especially are very popular with exchange students and expats.
Graphic designer Sonia Promkova from Bulgaria took the live model painting class because she wanted to learn more about drawing and painting the human body: “I enjoyed the open atmosphere and experienced no problems communicating with the teachers. The lessons are very individual. Even though there are 10-12 participants in the course the teacher instructs every person individually. My teachers spoke English with me and if we could not find the right word she would just show me what she meant in practice.”
Sonia however does admit that she expected the course to be different, more technically oriented, from the anatomical point of view. Her advice to potential participants is to inquire about this in advance or to take a lesson before registering. Nevertheless she is very happy with the affordable prices and the central location and by the comfortable rooms in the beautiful historical building at Herbenusstraat.
Dance enthusiast mothers with small children can take a course in English on Friday mornings: “Dancing with your mommy’ is suited for children between the age of 18 month to 4 years.
Most teachers of other courses speak a good level of English and some of them also speak Spanish (flamenco lessons) or French. It is recommended to inquire up front if the teacher for the course is able to provide English instruction. Theater 8+ is only taught in Dutch.
Although courses start in September it is possible to join in throughout the year. All courses are taught during the day as well as in the evening. Classic arts is also available (in loose modules) on Saturdays.
Course rates depend on age, postcode (due to communal subsidies) and possible discounts (student, senior). For instance: the beginners course “flamenco” for 40 lessons would cost me (38 years, living in Maastricht, no discount) Euro 226,25, which is Euro 5,65 per lesson.
Kumulus also offers activities in Valkenburg (mainly music lessons, painting and drawing, sculpting) and other surrounding municipalities.
When it comes to art education, Kumulus always announces fair weather in Maastricht!
By Antje Ritter
Antje Ritter Woodburn is a German expat in Maastricht
Photographs: ©Stuart Woodburn