TivoliVredenburg in financial trouble, Utrecht municipality contributes 800,000 euros to increased energy costs

The Muziekgebouw TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht has run into financial difficulties due to the increase in energy costs. With an energy bill that is 800,000 euros higher than budgeted, the music palace may close the year 2022 with a deficit of 1.3 million euros. However, the municipality has decided to pay the bill with a one-off grant of 800,000 euros. Director Jeroen Bartelse says that he is very happy with the money.

TivoliVredenburg had to enter into a new energy contract at the beginning of 2022 and, as is well known, energy prices reached record highs. In a large building like TivoliVredenburg, it immediately makes sense. And then there was the second setback. The music palace was also closed for two months last year due to corona, while many costs continued as normal. Bartelse: “The strange situation is that the public returned en masse to TivoliVredenburg last year – when it was possible again – but due to the two unforeseen circumstances, the shortage could increase so much in 2022.”

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Director Jeroen Bartelse in TivoliVredenburg

Bartelse says that TivoliVredenburg took the necessary measures last year. “We also believe that as an organization we must of course take responsibility ourselves.” For example, all ticket prices have been raised by 50 øre, the price of a beer and other catering products has become more expensive and it also costs more to rent a room in TivoliVredenburg.

We have also looked at how to save on the energy bill. “When it comes to installations, the motto now is: everything is off unless there is a program. It is fundamentally different from before. We also want to be a beacon of light, but we also chose not to illuminate the building this winter.” During the year, TivoliVredenburg managed to save between 15 and 20 percent of energy in this way.

Shouldn’t the tickets just be a little more expensive? Bartelse says they want to remain accessible to everyone. “We are of course looking at how we can find a balance and how we can pass on the increased costs. But we also want to remain accessible to people with a smaller wallet.” According to Bartelse, this also applies to programming. “It is also one of the buttons we are looking at. We think it is very important to also make room for all kinds of music, talent development and artists who have not yet made it through.”

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With the grant of 800,000 euros, the municipality wants to prevent ‘the continuity of TivoliVredenburg from being jeopardized and that cultural programming must be drastically cut’. The municipal council will make a total of three million euros available to institutions in Utrecht that have acute problems in 2023. Another 4.5 million euros will also be earmarked to help with long-term problems due to rising costs.

Susanne Schilderman (Councillor for Finance) says in a press release: “There are institutions in the city that are available every day to many Utrecht residents, and which are now running into financial problems. It is institutions within the care, welfare, sports and culture sectors that expect to run into financial problems in 2023 due to, among other things, increased energy costs. For some, the problems are acute and others expect considerable uncertainty about the course of this. year. The government is working on schemes to cover the shortfalls in the long term. In the meantime, we are taking action now because we cannot wait for these organizations that are in trouble or at risk of trouble and need immediate help.”

The Empire

The municipality therefore also anticipates the money that becomes available from the public sector, something that Bartelse often talks about from the cultural sector in The Hague. The government is introducing a compensation scheme for civil society organisations, including cultural initiatives, to absorb the rising costs. “It is fantastic that the municipality is taking action so quickly and is already helping organizations in Utrecht experiencing acute difficulties.” Because there is support from the government, Bartelse will ensure that the diversity in the cultural program is not compromised. Other ‘draconian measures’ should also be a thing of the past. “But at the end of the day, we also have to make sure we can make ends meet.”

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