Agnes’ heart beats for De Schalm

General

She is a familiar face to the guests at the Theater de Schalm: Agnes de Graaff has been working at the Veldhoven theater for 25 years. On 1 January 1998, she starts there as a receptionist. Before that, she works at the Frits Philips Music Center in Eindhoven, as it was then called. The position as cashier at the theater in her hometown with working hours during school hours seems ideal to her as a young mother.

VELDHOVEN – “In the beginning I had to get used to everything that was different. I really enjoyed being able to add something here with the knowledge I brought with me from the Muziekgebouw, where they were much further along at the time. Sometimes I wanted to go back to my bare knees! After half a year I felt great. Things changed, we got better printers and I got to know my colleagues better. I have always been involved, so I help marketing to write and translate the texts, and I think together with the director and the presenter about the programme.”

As a result, she also sees performances that she finds interesting, and I visit her in her spare time.

“Mostly musical performances. I like seventies and eighties music, blues and Americana.”

“I look back with great pleasure on the 25 years, when so much has changed. The turn of the millennium and the introduction of the euro were big projects. It was very exciting if the computers continued to work well at midnight.”

Convert

“And the introduction of the euro was in the middle of the theater season, so we all had to recalculate the ticket prices. I remember it exactly: 2.20371. We are now sometimes offered theater vouchers in gold, so we have to convert again. The old paper theater and concert tickets are valid indefinitely, so it is still possible.”

Digital ticket sales

She is also experiencing the digitization of ticket sales.

“Before that, at the start of the theater season, we had to manually enter 1,500 order forms with the four of us. It took many hours. We had to order the payments manually, print and send the tickets and send brochures. The internet has changed that enormously. I can’t imagine that ticket sales will change as much in the next 25 years as they have in the past 25 years. It’s really big.”

build up

This has resulted in her now seeing and speaking to fewer people. “First everyone came to the desk and there were many calls, now it’s on e-mail. We only have two or three guests from our regular guest base who do not have an email address. It also means that you see people less, which is a shame. I know so many people by sight now. There are people I have known for 25 years. I once had a man who came here a lot and came to say goodbye when he knew he was terminal. I also thought it was intense, but you build something with people. People who are new now do everything online. You can have a chat with them once in a while, but they are less well known than they used to be. People with wishes who, for example, find it difficult to walk have contact with us, they often stop by.”

Exciting and intense

She remembers another tense moment.

“By the end of the working day, everything was blue with fire in the copy room. In the evening, Meer Vreugde Kern had a performance. Then we opened everything up and it was still possible to continue.”

The Corona period was also intense, according to Agnes. “It was always: ‘We can go again. Nix.’ Then again so many visitors and then again not for a while. Then you had night duty and you had to have a statement to be allowed to go home under curfew. People also had to wait a long time until they knew what happened with the show. I’m very happy that there is perspective again. Even if you don’t know if all your visitors will come back. It will get better.” Agnes de Graaff hopes to stay with Schalm until she retires. “I feel comfortable with the small and there are still quite a few challenges in the work with, for example, joint ticket sales in the region and the cultural focal point and the collaboration with the museum and library. Who knows, maybe I’ll even help with a shared entrance,” she says.

Bianca Kuipers

“There are still many challenges in my work

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