Theater Walhalla

Theater Walhalla wants to respond to the changing composition of Rotterdam's population and therefore wants to work seriously on diversity. They went through the Diversity Approach of City Safari and Schaap en Wolf.

Rotterdam is now a city with over a 170 nationalities. Surinamese, Turkish and Moroccan residents form the largest groups. Many may not feel Dutch, but they do feel they are from Rotterdam. A challenge for a cultural institution.

“I see the world around us changing. Rotterdam has become a super diverse city, where more than half of the inhabitants have a non-Dutch background and that will increase further in the coming years. We have to prepare for the future of a theater in that super diverse city, otherwise we may end up with empty halls. ”

Rachèl van Olm, director of Theater Walhalla

the wish of Theater Walhalla

Theater Walhalla wants to respond to those changes, so that in ten years' time the theater will still be the junction between the North and South of the city and that the halls are full of enthusiastic audiences. Because Van Olm is convinced of the power of theater, as a mirror of society, as a stage for refreshing perspectives.

“We want to work with diversity, but how? There are few good examples of successful diversity policies in the cultural sector. We'll try, but it doesn't get anywhere. Take personnel policy, for example. With vacancies we always look for people with a different background, but in the end the new colleague is always a copy of ourselves. We are unable to interest another audience for work in the theater. "


Rachèl has often gone on a City Safari with her partner and was always impressed by the personal stories of the people they visited. In a newsletter she read about the Diversity Approach and asked City Safari to help her develop a diversity policy.

they opted for the diversity approach

Theater Walhalla's employees went through a three-day program in which they worked actively on diversity. During the various brainstorms and group discussions, the team gave extensive answers to the questions of what diversity is, what the opportunities are for Walhalla and what is needed to make it a success. 

“The enthusiasm with which the Walhalla team has worked with diversity is special. Diversity was the subject of discussion not only during the process, but also during the rest of the week. That is encouraging, because the entire organization must want to participate in the change. "

Marjolijn Masselink, City Safari

“The open conversations about diversity and the encounters with unknown people with all kinds of different backgrounds have sparked a lot within the team. This also includes confrontations with ourselves. For example about the way we interact with each other. Sometimes I, without malicious intentions, make loud jokes in the workplace. I can unintentionally hurt or scare people with that. That is not good, especially if we want to be an inclusive organization. So I'm going to pay close attention to that. The management must of course set the example. ”


a widely supported result

City Safari wrote an extensive report about the process with a concrete step-by-step plan to develop, implement and guarantee diversity policy. 

“In addition to clear goals, a safe working environment and a good corporate culture are important for the success of the diversity policy. We have therefore given Walhalla a number of conditions and points for attention that are decisive for its success. ”


“The ball is now with us. The team was inspired by the different sessions and encounters with people from different backgrounds, from a Turkish imam to an artist with Down syndrome. They have indicated that they would like to get started and have provided plenty of concrete ideas. But of course we cannot do everything and certainly not at the same time. They therefore expect a clear choice from us. And that we will find time and money to be able to carry out the plans. ”


more about the diversity approach

The Diversity Approach focuses on the discussion about diversity within and with the organization. Inspiring personal encounters with people from diverse cultural backgrounds are an important part of this. This approach was developed by City Safari in collaboration with Schaap and Wolf.

With City Safari, Marjolijn Masselink has been organizing personal encounters with the unknown other for more than 20 years in order to reduce the distance between groups in society and to remove prejudices. Many ministries, municipalities, companies and organizations successfully went on City Safari. Winfred van den Bor coaches, under the name Schaap en Wolf, entrepreneurs, managers and teams, who want to perform better.


Are you curious about the further steps that Walhalla has taken in the meantime, do you have questions about this case or would you like to exchange ideas about the effect that the Diversity Approach can have on your organization?

Please contact:
Marjolijn Masselink
[email protected]
06 229 016 71

City Safari and Schaap en Wolf previously worked together. Read more here.

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