Belgian producer, director, presenter and TV pioneer Annie Declerck has passed away, she was 87. She worked for the public broadcasting company from 1952 till 1997, first as an assistant, then as a producer and programmer. The general public got to know her during the television broadcasts from the legendary World Fair in 1958 at the Heysel in Brussels. In the different pavilions she made up to three live interviews a day, six months long. In 1959 she conceived Toneelmagazine, the first Flemish television programme exclusively devoted to theatre and other performing arts.
In the following years Declerck made a long series of programmes that all had the goal to bring art and culture into every living room. She always did so with great integrity towards the artist, but also with a concern to make the work of the artist understandable and interpretable for the general public. Over the years, she made long series of programmes such as Zoeklicht, Binnen en buiten, Horen en zien, Dag aan dag, Kunst-zaken, Het gerucht, Persona, Verwant or Ziggurat. Some were mainly aimed at art news, others offered in-depth portraits of artists. Examples of the latter in the Persona series were broadcasts dedicated to Marguerite Duras, Jerzy Grotowski, Tadeusz Kantor, Giorgio Strehler and the Living Theatre.
For the programme devoted to Susan Sontag, Declerck received the Bert Leysen Prize.
All arts were represented in her work, but the theatre always remained of particular interest to Declerck. For forty years, she followed the developments in theatre in the Dutch-speaking world and beyond. The archive she built up of recordings of (fragments of) performances and conversations with theatre makers (authors, directors, choreographers) is considered unique in the world.
She herself always remained in the shadows in front of the public. Her influence over four decades for the democratisation of art can hardly be overestimated. More than ever, she contributed to the cultural mission of the public broadcaster. (via Rosas)
Annie Declerck interviews Alexander Melik-Pashayev, director of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow (with interpreter in the middle). © VRT