How can we ensure that the POW! WOW! Rotterdam festival will be attractive to young people?


Being researched during the Creative Future course


Dave Vanderheijden / Students Creative Future/ Marieke van Meurs

What is POW! WOW! Rotterdam?

‘POW! WOW! Rotterdam is a worldwide street art festival that originated in Hawaii. The first Rotterdam edition took place in the Merwe-Vierhaven area in 2018, and the Afrikaanderplein in Rotterdam-South was the site of the event for the next two years. Artists craft large wall paintings throughout the festival, and there are pop-up exhibitions, sports events and musical performances’.

What issue did you submit to Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab Rotterdam?

‘As a festival, we want to serve a broad target group, so the event must be interesting for an 8-year-old child but also for a youngster of 18 or a 65 year-old. We don’t want to exclude anyone. Admittedly, that is a challenge, but we believe that it is possible. We feel that we have made fair progress, but we are aware that we need to appeal to all ages and we are asking the lab to explore ways of attracting more young people to our event. We have some ideas ourselves, but we hope to be surprised by the plans proposed by students’.

How did your issue originate in the first place?

‘We have succeeded in attracting a younger audience to our festival in the past with our music programme, but due to the corona virus, musical performances were not allowed in the 2020 edition. POW! WOW! is scheduled to take place again in September, and it is possible that music events may not be possible again by then. If this is the case, we are concerned that many young people will not attend. We are wondering how we can position ourselves to remain attractive to a young target group, even without live music’.

  • POW! WOW! Festival 2020. Photo: Martine Kiers
  • POW! WOW! Festival 2020. Photo: Martine Kiers

How did the idea occur to you to submit this issue to Hogeschool Inholland?

‘We are eager to collaborate with educational institutions. I was myself a student at Inholland, and the school is also situated near the Afrikaanderwijk, which was the festival venue for two editions, so this feels like a logical collaboration. We also think that the students are bound to have a different perspective on the issue than we have ourselves’.

What are you hoping for?

‘What I am truly hoping for is that the students are going to take this assignment seriously. After all, we definitely want to realise the best ideas. I like it when students come up with genuine solutions for this kind of assignment – or during traineeships – rather than treating it as just another assignment and not really bothering to think of real plans. And their plans will need to be very concrete; we are not looking for vague analyses, we want to get down to business with a concept that can be practically applied’.

Is the issue affected by the corona virus?

‘Not as far as we are concerned; corona virus or not, the issue remains relevant. It is especially important to keep up motivation, although that may be hard for students, what with remote learning and working from home. It can sometimes be awkward for us, too. For example, normally, somebody would simply pop round and meet up at the venue when scouting a location for the 2021 edition. However, we are managing to stay positive, and we are convinced that POW! WOW! is going to happen this year! We have mapped out a number of scenarios and there is bound to be a version that can go ahead, no matter what’.

POW! WOW! Rotterdam 2018. Foto: Fleur Beerthuis