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‘We don’t create culture for the people, but with the people’

A British dance show, Albanian rappers, and a famous Danish comedian – Baltoppen LIVE’s programme is an unambiguous manifestation of cultural diversity.

Located 15 kilometres from central Copenhagen, the music and theatre venue boasts a decisively inclusive profile,

which has helped it stand out from the capital’s many offers.

Music and theatre director Ib Jensen tells Scan Magazine why he does not want to create culture for the people, but with them.

Having worked at a number of Copenhagen’s leading cultural institutions,

you might expect Jensen to be on a mission to culturally educate the suburbians of Ballerup.

However, it is in fact the other way round. When the now 53-year-old commenced his new position in 2012,

he began by asking the locals what they wanted from their local theatre and music venue.

“Instead of just making a programme based on what I considered valuable,

I threw a bunch of our people into the local community and gave them as their assignment to find out

what people would actually like us to present for them,” he says.

“Of course you can act like some kind of omniscient power and base all decisions on your own preferences,

but you’re going to have an uphill struggle.

It’s about involving peo- ple so that, instead of making culture for the people, we make culture with the people.”

The approach has resulted in a distinctly inclusive programme We don’t create culture for the people

with unique performers and performances from all over Europe as well as a number of big Danish names.

‘We don’t know everything’ While some cultural institutions

focus predominantly on the existing culturally active audience, We don’t create culture for the people

Baltoppen LIVE focuses just as much on those who would not traditionally visit cultural venues, and that makes competition hard, says Jensen.

Admitting that he himself is a Netflix fan, he says: “The fact is that the competition for people’s spare time is absolutely crazy.

With services like Netflix, you can sit at home on your sofa and be very well entertained without having to relate to anyone but yourself;

it’s a very easy way to spend your time, and it can be quite a challenge for people to get out of their home,

pay for the ticket and take part in the kind of intense interaction that a live theatrical performance is.”

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