Never Grow Up!: Film, Literature and Performing Arts

Never Grow Up!

Dutch film, literature and performing arts for young audiences


_T_hroughout 2019 and 2020, Never Grow Up! presents an abundance of Dutch film, literature and performing arts for young audiences in the United States. A wide range of work from the Netherlands will be presented and shared at festivals, conferences and other platforms, all representing a respect for young people and dedication to youth culture as an autonomous art form.

Never Grow Up! is a joint effort of Dutch Performing Arts, the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in New York, Eye International, Netherlands Film Fund, Cinekid, Dutch Foundation for Literature, and DutchCulture. The program aims to stimulate the dissemination and visibility of Dutch youth arts as well as cultural exchange and partnerships with renowned US-based presenters and organizations.

What’s on?
Throughout 2019 and 2020, Dutch film, literature, (music) theater and dance that caters to young audiences and families is presented at events and venues such as IPAY Showcase, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Kennedy Center, New York International Children’s Film Festival and Brooklyn Book Festival. Presenters and agencies are invited to attend screenings, readings and performances, meet directors, writers and performers, and engage with representatives of Dutch expert organizations to discuss opportunities for collaboration and exchange.

“Robot XS” by NTjong © Bowie Verschuren – Dutch IPAY Showcase

Uniquely Dutch
Research conducted by the World Health Organization and Unicef shows that Dutch children are among the happiest in the world. What sets Dutch kids apart, is that they have a supportive environment at home, with friends and also at school. Dutch parents give a lot of support and have mild control. There is an egalitarian climate at school, teachers are not authoritarian but accept the feelings of pupils, and pupils trust teachers. This respect for young people and their views on the world is also reflected in the themes, genres and wealth of ideas found in Dutch arts for young audiences.

Dutch youth arts are known for their artistry and high production value while often tackling challenging subjects, ranging from the commercial to the chaotic, the playful to provocative and poetic, the silly to the serious, and everything in between. In the Netherlands, filmmakers, writers and performers take children and their personal experiences seriously. Unafraid to take artistic risks, publicly-funded makers in particular like to go off the beaten path of typical children’s stories and address topical issues head-on. At the same time, Dutch youth arts are characterized by their sense of humor, playfulness and light take on things, and are equally enjoyed by grown-ups.

“We don’t present Hollywood pictures that always end well.” – Anja Krans, Program Manager of Never Grow Up!

Read an interview with her here.


September – November, 2019

NYICFF is crossing the Atlantic to pair up with far-flung Friends & Neighbors this year. Cinekid, the Netherlands’ premiere film festival for children and EYE International come ashore to share their best short films. Featuring a range of different cultures and themes—from Old Amsterdam to New York—and fresh stories that keep history alive. This Friends & Neighbors program is now going on tour through the USA with the Dutch short films. Several theatres in different cities have compiled a programme with the Dutch shorts.

Cleveland Cinematheque in Cleveland, OH: October 13, 2019
Coral Gables Art Cinema in Coral Gables, FL: November 7-8, 2019
Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta, ME: September 27 – October 5, 2019
Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NY: October 20, 2019 (buy tickets with discount code kidflicks20)
Pelham Picture House in Pelham NY: September 6-8, 2019

More info.

October 31 – November 2, 2019

Spin into a universe of orbiting chairs and surprises in the show Balancing Bodies (9+) by Dutch dance/theater company WOEST at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Take a seat in a rolling office chair and observe an ordinary space transform into a universe full of surprises and twists. Dutch dance/theater company WOEST brings this interactive show in which the interplay between performer and spectator is the nucleus around which everything orbits. As a world builds from nothing to something, audience members take part in balancing playfulness and organization, young and old, foolishness and seriousness, and more.

More info.

© Amaury Avermaete

November 1-10, 2019

The Chicago International Children’s Film Festival will be screening 7 Dutch films this year:

#bullyingstory, a documentary short by Eef Hilgers

Fox and Hare: “Birthday”, an animated TV short by Mascha Halberstad

My Extraordinary Summer with Tess, a live-action feature by Steven Wouterlood

Romy’s Salon, a live-action feature by Mischa Kamp

Something About Alex, a live-action short by Reinout Hellenthal

Thibault, a documentary short by Kim Faber

Zara and the Magical Football Boots, a live-action TV short by Barbara Bredero



November 2-3, 2019

Watch a television show go uproariously wrong in Get ‘Em (3+) by theater company Bonte Hond at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Three television hosts prepare to go live in the studio. The problem? There’s only one microphone! Witness the great lengths these so-called “mature” presenters go to hold the attention. Dutch theater company Bonte Hond presents this imaginative production in the spirit of Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes, featuring silly misunderstandings, a fantastic puppet show, and some hilarious hide-n-seek.

More info.

© Kamerich & Budwilowitz

November 9-10, 2019

Maas Theater & Dance presents Egg-tion Hero at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. EGG-tion HERO is theater for toddlers about art. With minimal tools and a lot of garden-variety magic two actors make themselves, each other and the egg vanish into thin air.

Imagine: an action movie, but for real. Starring one of the most booorrring action heroes ever. An egg that no one is allowed to touch. No one! Just a boring egg guarded by two ultra-boring attendants (attendants are boring guards who watch over art objects, and art is…uh…we’ll talk about that another time). And just when it gets so boring that it’s hard to stay awake, we suddenly find ourselves in a chase scene.

A: A chase?
B: Yep.
A: With an egg?
B: Uh huh.
A: That no one is allowed to touch?
B: Right.
A: But how…I mean what…I, uh…hhmmm…and, uh, and?
B: Can’t tell you anything more, I am afraid.

Two boring mimes watch over EGG-tion HERO. With minimal tools and a lot of garden-variety magic they make themselves, each other and the egg vanish into thin air. Definitely dangerous, so don’t try this at home.

© Pepijn Lutgerink

January 11-12, 2020

Dutch music theatre company Oorkaan will perform their award-winning toddler production Glimpse at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

More info.

Oorkaan – Glimpse © Ronald Knapp

April 24-26, 2020

Dance company De Dansers presents Pokon (4+) at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Three performers storm the stage whirling, twirling, hiccupping, tumbling, and singing. Dutch dance company De Dansers presents this mesmerizing performance full of movement, rhythm, fantasy, and friendship for children and grown-ups who can’t keep still. As the performers give themselves permission to run, climb, and get dirty, anything—from a ladder to a guitar to plants—becomes something to joyfully play on.

More info.

© Thomas Geurts

May 9 – 17, 2020

Bon bon mornay! What happens when birds of different feathers flock together? And if they don’t sing the same language, will they understand each other? In this sweet story about four birds and one nest, Theatergroep Kwatta uses a mix of languages to share a universal message about belonging. Allonzy tutti to JABBERBABBLE, where every day is wonderfeej!

Theatergroep Kwatta
From Nijmegen, The Netherlands


Past Events

January 15 – 19, 2019

IPAY Showcase 2019, Philadelphia
The year-long celebration of Dutch artistry kicks off with the presence of eight Dutch theatre and dance companies at international conference IPAY Showcase, that takes place from January 16-19, 2019 in Philadelphia. The eight companies will present their productions for young audiences to 500 US-based theatre professionals, including full-length performances, pitches, and excerpts from Theatergroep Kwatta, Theater Terra, Meneer Monster/NORPA, Het Nationale Theater/NTjong, Simone de Jong Company, Maas Theater & Dance, plan d-/Andreas Denk, and De Dansers. Presenting energetic dance performances with live music to moving visual performances for ages 2-6+.
More info

February 11 – 14, 2019

Kidscreen Summit Miami
During Kidscreen Summit in Miami, Cinekid is the host of a networking moment together with NTR and Ketnet. Cinekid’s general director Floor van Spaendonck will be present to talk with American and international producers, buyers, programmers and agencies about possible partnerships and collaborations. Contact Cinekid here to set up a meeting!

February 22 – March 17, 2019

New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYCIFF)
NYICFF presents its third edition of Friends & Neighbors, a program spotlighting the distinctive artistry of a country of focus and partner festival. Following Canada’s TIFF Kids and Mexico’s Morelia International Film Festival, NYICFF is collaborating with the Netherlands Consulate General in New York, the Netherlands’ premiere children’s film festival Cinekid and EYE International to present a series of shorts by the Netherlands’ most accomplished live action, animation, and documentary filmmakers for young audiences, as well as highlight new Dutch feature filmmaking for youth.
More info

[Schedule continues below]


March 9 – April 5, 2019

Chicago European Union Film Festival
Screening of You Are My Friend, directed by Petra Lataster-Czisch & Peter Lataster

Fri, Mar 15th 4:15pm

more info 

Wed, Mar 20th 6:00pm

more info

March 31, 2019, 2pm

Bam Kids screening of Miffy the Movie (Dutch: Nijntje)
Miffy the Movie is a 2013 Dutch stop motion animated family film (directed by Hans Perk), based on the Miffy character created by Dick Bruna.  Join Miffy—the little rabbit with a big personality—for a fun-filled day at the zoo as she and her friends solve a series of riddles; learn about sound, shape, color, and movement; and discover the value of teamwork. Based on the beloved series of Dutch children’s books, this colorful stop motion delight not only captivates young viewers, it invites them to participate in the action.

Miffy will be present before and after the screening.

More info and tickets.

Read more about Miffy on the Miffy website and follow Miffy on Instagram.

Check out Miffy books on Amazon.

May 3 – 19, 2019

Panorama Europe Film Festival at the Museum of the Moving Image (New York)
Participants to be announced.

May 4 – 5, 2019

San Francisco Bay Book Festival
Children’s book authors Mylo Freeman and Benny Lindelauf will be present at the Bay Area Book Festival.

More info.

May 4 – 12, 2019 

Oorkaan’s Glimpse at BAM Fisher, New York
Dutch music theatre company Oorkaan will perform their award-winning toddler production Glimpse, in a series of 12 concerts for families and schools at BAM, the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

4-5 May and 11-12 May at 10:30am and 3:30pm (for families)
More info

7-11 May at 11:00am (for schools)
More info

May 6 – 11, 2019

Dance company Arch8 performs Tetris (6+) at the Miami Theater Center.


May 16 – 18, 2019

Dance company Arch8 performs Murikamification (7+) at the Pittsburgh Children’s Theater Festival.


May 18, 2019

The Museum of the Moving Image in New York will screen Light as Feathers (14+) by Rosanne Pel at Panorama Europe 2019, the eleventh edition of the essential festival of new European cinema, co-presented by Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI)and the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC). Read more about the film here.

September 21
Everyone knows Miffy, and countless children have read the Diary of Anne Frank. The Netherlands has a rich history of children’s book authors and illustrators. During the Brooklyn Book Festival, Dutch author and artist Mylo Freeman participated in Children’s Day. She readd from her Princess Arabella series and demonstrated painting in color.

Find a recap of the event here!

This calendar and the blog will be updated frequently.


Never Grow Up! is a joint effort with: