Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are important. We want to be an open and inclusive festival where creators, attendees and team members from all backgrounds feel welcome. Below, we describe the steps we take to make the festival more inclusive. None of them will get us there overnight. It takes a long-term and patient commitment to become a more inclusive festival.

Have you experienced the CTF as a creator or audience member and have ideas about steps we could/should take regarding diversity and inclusion? Let us know by sending an email to programmering@cafetheaterfestival.nl.

Artist Selection

Open Call and Selection Process

All performers at the CTF responded to our open call. An inclusive open call that is accessible to all creators is therefore crucial. Every year we review all the texts related to the open call. This includes the text on the website, the conditions and the application form. These texts are all available in Dutch and English. We want them to be short and simple.

We realise that not all creators who want to apply to the CTF are equally good at conceiving and writing down a concept for a performance, and we therefore want our application form to be intuitive and easy. In addition, for the past three years we have had the option to apply with a video as well. We hope that this will give creators who do not express themselves easily in writing extra opportunities to present themselves and their concept.

Of the hundred applications a year, we can invite fifty of them for a selection interview of half an hour. During that interview, creators can also present live material. The entire artistic team is present during this interview. We are aware that we have blind spots and unconscious biases that play a role in such an interview, and we actively try to recognise and discuss these internally.


If we don’t have enough diversity of stories, backgrounds, and ideas at the festival then the program is not good enough. This means that the conversation about diversity is not a peripheral issue, but is at the core of the conversation we have about programming.

In addition, we have formulated some concrete programming goals to hold ourselves to. These goals are not a replacement for the substantive conversation, but instead serve as minimum requirements on which we can build.

Non-Dutch and Dialogue-free

Because not everyone speaks Dutch, we want at least half of the performance to be able to be followed by an audience that does not understand Dutch. This may be because no language is used in the performance (dialogue-free) or because the performance is in other languages (e.g. English, German, Arabic or Indonesian).


Utrecht has an active hip-hop community to which we want to provide a place at the festival. That’s why we select at least four hip-hop dance performances every year.

Visible representation

We want more people to be able to identify with the artists who perform at out festival. At the moment, in the theater and dance sector, and therefore also at the CTF, the cultural diversity is lacking. Therefore, we want at least seven (one-third) of the performances to include one or more creator(s) or performer(s) of color.

We realize that not all forms of cultural diversity are visible. In this case, it is not so much about visible representation, but that different stories, styles and practices are represented at the festival. This is accounted for in the selection process and in programming as described above.

Hospitality Establishments

We have been working with a variety of hospitality establishments for years, from hip coffee-places to working class pubs, from a Moroccan coffee house to a hostel, from a gay bar to a museum restaurant. This diversity is crucial to us. If we want to reach groups that do not normally go to the theater, we have to find those groups where they feel at home. Yet not everyone feels comfortable in a traditional pub (café in Dutch).

Sensory-friendly Performances

Traditionally, the CTF is not very accessible to people that cannot handle a lot of external stimuli. This is why we have started offering sensory-friendly performances.

For the CTF 2023, we will program three performances that we designate as “quiet”. These will play in relatively small, uncluttered locations and will be guided on how to be accessible to a broad audience that includes neurodivergent people.

In addition, we are developing a quiet route, by selecting a number of time slots in which we limit access to the different locations. This way we can guarantee that it will be a quieter experience than the rest of the festival. It is also possible to let us know in advance that you want to use the quiet route, so that our volunteers are aware of this and can keep a spot free.