20 June 2013
by Anne van Oorschot
We were very fortunate to be invited to the City Hall in Tilburg for our May meeting, which was also our AGM. The Mayor recognizes the important contributions provided by expats in the companies in and around Tilburg and welcomed us to the VIP lounge on the top floor of the city hall.
Delicious snacks and a variety of drinks were provided and after the Mayor’s warm words of welcome, there was time for visiting together before we had a tour of the City Hall.
Tilburg’s City Hall was a
former royal palace and King William II of the Netherlands commissioned its construction to have a country residence in Tilburg. The King made the first sketches for the palace himself and although he placed the cornerstone of the palace in August 1847, the King never lived in it as he died on 17 March 1849, just 22 days before completion of the palace.
The palace was formerly a school and currently is being used as city hall
of the municipality of Tilburg. The school offered education at the high school level and Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh was the school’s most famous student. Part of the palace is now a museum devoted to van Gogh and his time in Tilburg.In 1931 the palace was donated to the Tilburg municipality by the Dutch royal family. It functioned as the City Hall until 1971 when a much larger and more modern building was completed. This building is connected to the palace through a sky bridge at the north side of the palace. Since then, the Palace has mostly been used as a location for wedding ceremonies, lectures, oath-takings and symposia.
In the guided tour, it was very interesting to see the former banquet room of the Palace, where weddings often take place today, as well as the beautiful old Town Council room. While this last room is now too small for the Council meetings, it still hosts some smaller committee meetings. We also saw the present Town Council meeting room – and a big and impressive room it is – complete with a gallery for any interested citizens who care to come and watch the proceedings.
After the conclusion of our tour, we returned to the VIP lounge upstairs where we had a short business meeting.We have had a good club year and a very busy one!
We presently have 45 members (single/couples/families) from 21 different nationalities, with highs coming from the USA (9 members) and Germany (5 members). With the expiration of the special 4-year membership deal from the University last year, our numbers have dropped (down from 73 last year). This is a concern and there was some discussion as to how we can connect with & attract new members. This resulted in a few good ideas:
- Ask those members employed by companies other than the University to pass information on TIC events on to any expat colleagues they may have. Posters to announce upcoming events could also be posted on company bulletin boards in lunchrooms, etc.
- Give all members business cards from TIC with contact and website information so they have something to pass out to any expats they may meet. This is a great way to utilize word of mouth!
- Make better use of social media to promote the club.
It was also reported that we had a huge number of activities last year – 30 in all – including excursions, social events, borrels, book club, lectures, TICkids events and special interest groups for movies and dinners. While we are trying to have something of interest for everyone, the attendance at events is not high, with the average being 7. While the number and variety of events is admirable, discussion suggested that fewer events would be a good thing: easier for the Board to plan and still plenty to choose from for busy members.
In spite of the fact that our website is still waiting for its “facelift,” it is a very useful and good way to communicate with our members and any searching the web for expat/international activities in Tilburg. In 2012, the website got a total of 3,753 hits, with 313 average hits per month and 10 per day. We also started a Facebook page and a Twitter account this past year and the number of friends and users is slowly growing.
There were several members who volunteered their help in different capacities:
- Farrah Ritter – help with social media
- Andy Ritter – TIC liaison at Bosch
- Yiyi Bai – volunteered to assume position of Treasurer
- Lenka Čίžkova – website help