Jonas Kreveld Era
1972 - 1990
During the first period with Jan Voordijk as president from 1966 – 1972 EF became established and regular speaker presentations and some film screenings were held. By 1972 there were 82 financial members.
Jan Voordijk was succeeded by Jonas Kreveld as president from 1972 to 1990. Although the format of a speaker/ film evening in a city location was initially successful, interest started to wane by 1973. The new committee decided to send out a questionnaire to members amongst concern that there were few members in the 25-35 age group. Also older members tended not to attend the evening functions. These are of course familiar findings that stayed with us throughout our history. Results of the 1973 member survey showed that screening films had the highest approval. Talks on history and art came second. Again we have found that these findings apply throughout our history (see for example a 1991 survey). New developments in science were not part of the survey, but later on there was also a strong interest in that topic.
With Jonas Kreveld as president a start was made to reach out to the wider community. It was decided to award a prize for the annual best essay in Dutch written by a student of Melbourne University. A grant of $1,250 was received from the Prins Bernhard Fund in the Netherlands to fund this prize. The name of the $50 prize was in honour of Jacob Smit who headed the Dutch School of Melbourne University for 25 years. In September 1974 the first Jacob Smit Prize was awarded by B. Donaldson, lecturer in Dutch at Melbourne University.
In 1974 there were 91 members in the society. However, by 1975 attendance became very poor and drastic action was required. It was even considered whether Erasmus could continue. The saving formula turned out to be a combination of socialising and culture, with an evening meal including drinks and a speaker or film afterwards. From 1977 this format became the standard. The Kelvin Club in the city was the initial accommodating venue till 1982. Between October 1982 and July 1985 the “City and Overseas Club” (later the German Club) in Windsor was used until the Danish Club in Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park became the rendez-vous for a long time till June 1999. Dinner started mostly on a Tuesday night at 7pm and the speaker started around 8:15pm. As films could not be done at these venues, the Dutch Club Abel Tasman was mostly used instead, but the showing of films became less frequent in these periods.
It is interesting that some customs came into use by trial and error. It was found that it was too difficult to rely on payments paid on the spot for meals, as keeping track of payments was difficult. Also without a good system of who had paid beforehand problems arose. It was therefore decided that you always had to pay in advance by a certain date and that a nametag would be handed out at arrival to mark that you had indeed paid. Much later on in the Dutch Club Abel Tasman it reverted back to paying on the spot. By then lists of who needed to be paid were ticked off and tables were pre-allocated so that no one could just turn up. The latter did not occur previously and you could sit wherever you liked.
Willem van Otterloo, the Dutch chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and previously of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, died of a traffic accident in July 1978. A request was received from John Hopkins, Dean of the Music Faculty, VCA to help establish a trust to commemorate Willem van Otterloo for an outstanding music student to continue studies in Europe, preferably in the Netherlands. Jonas Kreveld was instrumental in raising at least $30,000 for this trust, to be managed by Melbourne University. The first Willem van Otterloo prize of $2,000 was awarded in 1980 (the prize money was gradually raised to suit needs). Successive Dutch ambassadors were asked to be a patron for the fund.
Well-known speakers during this period included various federal or state ministers and other well-known persons, including Don Chipp, Barry Jones, Lindsay Thompson, Brian Dixon, Ian Spicer (Employers Federation), Grisha Sklovsky (Foundation Chairman SBS), Dr Rodney Wilson (Director NGV), Charles (Bud) Tingwell (actor and director), John Hopkins (Director of Music ABC), and famous Dutch author Harry Mulish. Throughout our history attendance at meetings remained around 40 people. However, well-known speakers always attracted a bigger attendance.
Continue: The Era of Jan Stracke 1990-1997