Oerol founder Joop Mulder unexpectedly died

In Leeuwarden, Joop Mulder (67), the founder of the Oerol festival on Terschelling, died. He probably died of cardiac arrest. According to the organization of Oerol, he had been struggling with health problems for some time, but his death was unexpected.

In the 1970s Mulder had moved from Bolsward to Terschelling as a 27-year-old to become the owner of Cafรฉ De Stoep in Midsland. In 1982 he started with Oerol, which was organized in the first years from the living room above his cafรฉ.

The Oerol festival began small with theatre performances on the sidewalk in front of its cafรฉ and in small sheds and grew into one of the largest open-air theatre festivals on location in Europe. Artists and theatre groups from all over the world come to the festival and shows are held throughout the island in summer during the festival. Completely in the spirit of the name of the festival, because primeval means everywhere.

Look here for an impression of the Oerol Festival of 2016.

Mulder had never thought before that the festival would be this big. โ€œAbsolutely not. When it started, we had the goal to last for five years,โ€ he said to Broadcasting Fryslan in 2017. โ€œThat things would get so out of hand, in a positive sense, that no one expected. But it is very nice that Oerol has developed so much.โ€ The festival attracts around 50,000 visitors every year.

In 2017, he farewell as director of Oerol and founded the landscape project Sense of Place, which was part of Leeuwarden Cultural Capital 2018, succeeded in bringing The Giants of Royal de Luxe to Leeuwarden in 2018, and that was a dream come true for him. For years he had tried to get De Giants to Oerol, but he did not succeed because the festival was too small for them.

With Sense of Place, Mulder wanted to use his vast wealth of experience with location art to get the Wadden Coast better on the map by starting a number of art and culture projects there.

Examples of this are the panoramic model Dijk of a woman on the embankment of Holwerd on Ameland, a photo and story route along the Wadden coast with the name Bildtstars and Eigenheimers and photo artwork de Dobbepaarden behind the seafront in Marrum. And there are still a lot of projects in the pipeline.

โ€œ Joop Mulder leaves an indelible impression both within the cultural world and among culture loversโ€, writes Oerols organisation on his website. โ€œWe will miss his spirit, ideas and inexhaustible energy.โ€