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Meanwhile | Why Royal HaskoningDHV has become a partner of Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018

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Meanwhile | Why Royal HaskoningDHV has become a partner of Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018

LEEUWARDEN - Wilko Huyink is the Business Development Director of Royal HaskoningDHV in the Northern part of the Netherlands. The blog below, written by Huyink, was initially published on the blog-page of Royal HaskoningDHV.

WILKO HUYINK - “Why does an engineer-bureau sponsor a cultural festival like Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018?” I receive that question from colleagues and clients on a regular basis, when I tell them that we are a strategic partner of the Foundation for Leeuwarden-Fryslân European Capital of Culture 2018. Time to set the record straight and appeal to other firms to consider the idea as well.

Iepen mienskip
No Term has more content than ‘iepen mienskip’. For Frisians and Leeuwarders it means working together, discovering, hospitality and sustainability. For the thousands of visitors expected to arrive in Leeuwarden-Fryslân Capital of Culture 2018, the event will take form via countless cultural-, historic- and social events. In 2013, the Frisian Capital won the nomination for an honor title previously awarded to metropoles like Athens, Istanbul, Amsterdam and Madrid. From that moment on, political powers, cultural connoisseurs and business owners shifted into high gear. Royal HaskoningDHV was there as a strategic partner from the very beginning. That means that we can use our knowledge, expertise and contacts as an advisor and executor. We help the organization, we’re reimbursed for part of the costs, but we also invest a lot ourselves. What we receive in return are valuable experiences, acknowledgement, an image boost for our company but also simply a lot of work satisfaction.

Balance in the triangle government-business industry-cultural sector
In the current conditions, no large-scale social project within The Netherlands can blossom in full autonomy. Local governments appeal to the business world for financial and practical support and on the other hand, businesses rely on the expertise and ‘broker powers’ of local and provincial governments. Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018 has an extra dimension; the cultural aspect. This is a fascinating sector, where flexibility and improvisation are as much part of the gene pool as strict project plans and procedures are for Royal HaskoningDHV. Or, as a cultural entrepreneur expresses it: ‘we don’t stop working until the curtain rises and a wonderful performance ensues’. Royal HaskoningDHV contributes to the cause from their social vantage point of ‘enhancing society together’. We deliver benefits through our expertise and knowledge about management of large projects: how do you control such a huge project and how do you set a framework in an early stage, to achieve the desire results. By collaboration with the cultural sector, which is relatively new to us, we receive at least the same amount of knowledge that we invested in return and that is probably one of the most exciting experiences about this project.

Butting heads creatively
The tasks are multi-facetted, from appointing a project leader ‘Ecology’ who has to monitor the sustainability factor, to ‘stakeholder engagement’ and establishing cross-connections between various organizations. The challenge is to make hearts beat faster and have people pitch in to help. The entire province is along for the ride and that is the natural habitat of an organization like ours. We will be helping the eleven Frisian towns to realize a fountain in each one of them. As an organization, we can invent such plans, but before things enter into the implementation phase, inhabitants have to be motivated and planning- and financial barriers have to be conquered. Another issue is accessibility. In the major part of our province, the water in and surrounding salt marshes, lakes and dikes plays a role. Many of the plans for 2018 are still lying on the drawing board, while their effects should last much longer than the year of the Cultural Capital. That calls for a long-term vision, but on the other hand a direct and pragmatic approach and implementation is needed. In this regard, engineer and cultural entrepreneurs but heads in a creative and inspiring way. The tempo can only be influenced to a certain extent; ‘grass doesn’t grow any faster when you pull on it’, as the saying goes.

A chance that comes along once in 17 years
The essence of our goal ‘Enhancing society together’ is doing–it-better-together. That ambition is fully alive with the initiators of Leeuwarden-Fryslân Capital of Culture 2018. This became evident once again during the recent diner for founding fathers, where, amongst others, Euro-commissioner Frans Timmermans appealed to firms to participate either financially or in-kind. And Claire McColgan, who at the time was executive producer of Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008, added: “For the Netherlands, a chance like this comes along once every 17 years.” A number of firms, amongst them Royal HaskoningDHV, stood up and offered their support. The organization has announced that half of the necessary support has already been promised.

Opportunities: you see them once you get involved
Business owners think in opportunities and progressive steps when confronted with a positive ‘business case’. In the case of Leeuwarden Capital of Culture 2018, the ‘pros’ are not completely evident from the get-go, because things develop in an organic and sometimes excitingly unpredictable manner. Entrepreneurs who have their doubts, should contact the organization, discuss their potential role and experience the dynamics that now, three years before the start of this huge event, are already palpable. The more you get involved, the more opportunities arise and the more contacts, knowledge and work you receive in return: that’s “iepen mienskip”.