‘Many young people don’t know that Production and Stage Management exists'

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OPP recruits new generation with TikTok campaign 'Hello maker!’

Cock-a-doodle-do! Do you wake up with TikTok and go to bed with it? Then you are definitely under 25. ‘TikTok is the perfect place to get a new, diverse group of students excited about Opleiding Productie Podiumkunsten,' says Eva Banning, project manager of the TikTok campaign 'Hello maker!' How did this inclusive recruitment campaign made by students come about?

In January 2021, TikTok passed the use of Facebook among young people in the Netherlands. In total there are about 1.7 million users. As of 1 November, the Academy for Dance and Theatre is also on this popular social media channel. ‘I am not on TikTok myself,' admits Eva Banning (26), laughing, 'so I am from an older generation. Yet she is the great initiator and project leader of the recruitment campaign launched by Production and Stage Management (OPP) via ATD's new TikTok channel. How did this come about?

Homogeneous group of students
Eva: 'In my final year of study, corona-year 2020, we started a working group on diversity and inclusion with eight students, with whom we met every month. I myself am very enthusiastic about my study and felt strongly: this study is interesting for a lot of young people, but they don't know that the study exists.'

When she started the programme in 2016, she already noticed. 'The group of students was very homogeneous. We were similar in terms of background, having been nurtured with performing arts in our youth or having been in youth theatre, for example.' While Opleiding Productie Podiumkunsten is also a great study if you have not previously come into contact with the performing arts, Eva emphasises. ‘You can end up at festivals, with musicals, as long as it has a stage.’

Room for everyone
How can we ensure that OPP recruits a more diverse group of students? That was the question that Eva and her workgroup members set to work on. A more inclusive cultural sector is very important to Eva, she says. ‘And education is the start. If you want to make the entire cultural sector more inclusive, you have to start at the beginning.’ Starting point of the study group: 'We want to show that our study is a place for everyone. That you do not have to come from a particular region, background or socio-economic background. And that you don't have to have any knowledge of the cultural sector before you start this programme.’

Loose with Kapooow!
Former artistic director Saundra Williams pointed them to Kapooow, an Amsterdam-based advertising agency that specialises in inclusivity and interactivity. Eva: 'They say: a lot of commercials are made by a homogeneous group of people. This has to change. If you bring in different perspectives, you increase the group you connect with as a brand. That is their main motivation in their work. And they make campaigns together. Not "You're the client, this is the assignment", but creating together with the target group.’

Inclusive slogan
This is exactly how it went with the campaign that Eva and her working group developed with the agency. ‘We quickly came up with TikTok,’ explains Kapooow's creative director Daniël van Breda: ‘TikTok has a target group of 16 to 24 year olds. It is a platform where makers upload their own, often creative, video’s. Hence the idea for the campaign: "Hello maker!" An inclusive slogan, every maker can feel addressed by. The core message to the target group is that they can turn their hobby into their job. We want to trigger them: did you know you can also do this professionally?’

Eva: 'We decided to film interviews with alumni. Because that is always an important question when you start a study: where will I end up later?’

Magical 1 minute
Another member of the working group, Kaya Wessels, third-year Production of Performing Arts student, interviewed and filmed the various alumni. ‘My approach was honesty. I ask questions like: who are you? How did you get into the programme? Where are you now, what are you doing now?' Like Eva, Kaya feels strongly about the theme: 'I am convinced that it is better to bring more diversity and inclusion into the theatre landscape. I recognise myself, I meet myself, that enriches me. I would like everyone to have that experience.’

Each interview resulted in about 15 minutes of video. The next challenge was for Kaya to edit the raw material into a magical 1 minute. ‘I have always loved making videos and editing them. If I can, I put video in all my school projects,' Kaya laughs.’ So I really enjoy doing this.’ What makes editing TikTok videos different? ‘Kapooow said: really go all out for that TikTok style. So the videos are very fast and rhythmic, I like that. Lots of zooming in and out. With humour and typical TikTok sound effects and texts.’

Naturally diverse
All videos are online now, including an intro 'Hello maker!' and a call-to-action: register for the Open Day, both made by Kapooow. The result is great, Eva and Kaya tell us enthusiastically. Kaya: 'Of course I'm curious how often they are viewed. Meanwhile, the video I made with alumnus Saly Ndoye has more than 300.000 views!’

Eva's task as project leader is almost over. ‘I hope that someone else within ATD will roll out this new way of approaching the target group more broadly. For 16-year olds, long texts with information about a possible future education are boring; they think: I am really not going to read that!’
When is she satisfied? ‘When such a campaign is no longer necessary in a few years' time. Because the study programme has become naturally diverse.’

Watch all videos here:

text and interview: Petra Boers

Eva Banning

Kaya Wessels