SIVO Festival SIVO Festival
SIVO Festival
3 t/m 7 augustus 2016

De Goorns 28
7873 AM Odoorn

SIVO Festival
Postbus 5
7873 ZG Odoorn

SIVO Festival
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SIVO-festival nu ook wereldberoemd in India
25-07-2014 00:00:00

Interview with Geert Nijhof, Impresario & Former Chairman of SIVO Festival (30 July-4 Aug)

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30th edition of one of the world’s largest Folklore Festival, SIVO, will return to Odoorn in The Netherlands from 30 July to 04 August.


Folkloric dancers and musicians from 15 countries around the globe will bring with them a vibrant aura of their cultures at this festival, which is a member of International Organization of Folk Art (I.O.V) and International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts (CIOFF)


To know more about the history, and the happenings that will enthrall the audiences at SIVO, had a conversation with Geert Nijhof, Impresario & Former Chairman of SIVO Festival from the period 1990-2006 , and he starts the conversation with us by saying,


 “The most important aim of Sivo is to work on a world where we have respect for each other’s culture and to make friendship between people of all countries. Being on the festival one can meet a lot of other people and learn about their way of life. This altogether makes us happy and we think with the festivals we set small steps forward for improving the world for better understanding each other.” 



Image Courtesy: SIVO Festival


Geert Nijhof, Impresario & Former Chairman of SIVO Festival

Geert Nijhof, Impresario & Former Chairman of SIVO Festival


Geert, we would love to hear more about yourself and your professional journey?


I’m working as the voluntary impresario for the festival. In the past I have been the chairman of the festival for a period of 15 years. From the beginning of the festival I have been active with the organization and it’s a part of my life. During all years I have built up a big network of friends from all over the world who are my ambassadors in the world of traditional art. In my past professional journey I was many years active as hydrologic engineer in a water board.


Besides this I always have been active in Folk-Art and worked in many other non-profit organizations. Since about three years I have been elected as the chairman of the National section of I.O.V. Now I’m working for keeping alive the traditional folk-art and cultural heritage in our country and I hope to be able to bring also new elements in our festival.


I’m also working for more festivals in assisting them for selections of ensembles and advices


Tell us more about the Sivo Festival, give us a big picture of the happenings that take place at the fest?


The SIVO-festival is an annual organized folkloristic dance- and music festival that shows the audience the big differences in traditional culture by music, singing and dancing. The festival takes place in the small village of Odoorn (some 2000 inhabitants) in the north of the Netherlands. Some 20 ensembles, coming from countries all over the world are joining together in this event. SIVO can organize this yearly festival due to the dedication and enthusiasm of hundreds of host-families and a few hundred of workers, all volunteers.




For the nearly 500 foreign active participants the event is a big manifestation where they can bring not their traditional music, songs, customs and other traditions, but also can make friendships with all the other invited ensembles and people. The big audience can enjoy the festival during 5 days and admires the special atmosphere of peace and friendship. Yearly some 25000 visitors are coming to the festival and they see with their own eyes the IOV-motto: “We are building bridges from nation to nation, from man to man”.


The festival takes place in the open air on several stages in a special dance-area, immediately behind the houses of the village, and has a décor of century-years old oak trees on the background. The program of the festival is well organized and on each stage is every 20 minutes one other country performing. In this way the audience can walk from stage to stage and makes the own program.


Image Courtesy: SIVO Festival

Image Courtesy: SIVO Festival


Please continue….


On the festival area is a big GALA-tent that has some 2000 seats and where every evening a few groups have a special concert that is accompanied by amplification of the traditional music instruments and light-effects.


During the festival there are further activities for children, workshops for traditional dances, workshops for Cultural heritages and folkloristic market. The festival is held without financial resources of the state or municipality but only with the help of some sponsoring of regional and local companies .The annual budget is about Euro 160.000.


Ensembles from all continents can apply for the festival and the impresario tries to make an attractive selection of cultures around the world. The ensembles have to pay for their own travel-costs to the Netherlands and during the festival they have no costs at all. In the families they receive all meals and the beds and during the free time they can exchange information about culture, and daily life. This makes it for many people very nice to have such experiences and we know that friendships between families and foreign guests are formed for many years.


Image Courtesy: SIVO Festival

Image Courtesy: SIVO Festival


Please take us down the memory lane by sharing the history of SIVO?


I came across SIVO in 1985. Back then it was started by someone who had the idea for bringing more tourists to the small village of Odoorn.  He told us to have ideas for bringing people from several countries together in the village, where on several places between the houses was a place for playing music and do the traditional dances in original costumes on acoustic music.


This idea was received in the beginning very skeptic by all people in the village, but after some time more people shared the idea. The first edition was a great success and old people in the village still are talking about it. Immediately all skeptics were disappeared and many people of the village seemed to have great interest for new editions.


The second edition of the festival was then organized by a new created organization and I was one of them who with great enthusiasm started to work out new plans for improving the organization. Due to the great enthusiasm of many volunteers, host families included we can go on with the annual festival that always is held in the first week of August. (Week number 31)


Image Courtesy: SIVO Festival

Image Courtesy: SIVO Festival


What is the vision and focus, theme for this edition?


In the coming edition we celebrate the 30th edition as a lustrum edition and are focusing on new talents of young people in the surrounding of the festival who can bring music, songs and dances of a new generation.


It’s important to for us to keep all folkloristic traditions alive but we also have to join the youth with new ideas in our organization. Further we will try to make the festival attractive for workers in cultural heritage jobs, who can show the audience in workshops their knowledge about their heritage.


From 15 foreign countries we have made a selection of high level amateur ensembles and they will have the opportunity to show us their traditions in singing, dancing and music from the past.


Image Courtesy: SIVO Festival

Image Courtesy: SIVO Festival


Do you make it a point to update your festival program with new trends?


We have to make the festivals more attractive for the youth in our country and therefore we need to make some movements from traditional folk-art to more nowadays forms of dancing and music that may have the interest of the younger ones.


World-wide we have in our world-organization to work on better understanding of differences between nations and collaborate for attractive folk-art festivals through the whole world.


Exchanging experiences about ‘How to organize a non-profit festival’ can help us to better the organizations.


Image Courtesy: SIVO Festival

Image Courtesy: SIVO Festival



What are the aspects, events that make this edition of your festival an interesting one?


We want try to form a special world-orchestra with musicians and singers of all 15 invited countries. I believe it must be possible to get in a few days with some rehearsals, but with great enthusiasm, a big orchestra that shows the audience that without speaking each other’s language it’s possible to feel by playing the music and singing a few songs, that we all wants to have peaceful world with understanding the differences in the world of all days.


Which countries are participating?


The cultures of this year will come from several regions of the following countries; Argentina, Armenia, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Croatia, Germany, Israël, Italy, Paraguay, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Taiwan, Ukraine and Netherlands.


Image Courtesy: SIVO Festival

Image Courtesy: SIVO Festival


Would you like to discuss the challenges faced in putting together this edition?


The challenge of this edition was not different from many other ones. We always try to find new cultures that never have been in our festival. We always try to invite ensembles from all continents, but due to the political situation in many countries it’s sometimes nearly impossible to get ensembles with a visa to our country.


Especially from African countries we would like to have more opportunities for groups to bring their culture in our festival. It’s for these groups nearly impossible to gather enough money for the travel to our country but also the issue of visa is a big problem.


For me it’s a pity that also this year I have not been successful to welcome an ensemble from an African country in the Netherlands .Further I want to show the audience this year that ensembles from Ukraine and Russia can perform on the same stage as friends.



Which event from the festival do you love the most and why?


For me the organization of all preparation for the ‘world-orchestra’ is an apogee of the festival.
Seeing so many musicians and singers who don’t know each other before and then within a few days bringing a high level performance brings me Goosebumps. I really hope for a good result, but I’m sure of it it will give much satisfaction and for members a memory they never will forget.



Dit intervieuw werd overgenomen van de website:

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SIVO Festival

SIVO Festival