*** With courtesy of Jacques Bijnen / Historical Heritage Foundation Veldhoven ***

The very beginning

To describe the history of this ‘temple of culture’ in Veldhoven, we have to go back to end 1950s – beginning of the sixties. Due to the fact that our municipality grew extensively in the years after World War II (Veldhoven was even called the fastest growing municipality of our country at the time), there was an increasing need for an accommodation that had to meet the needs of this developing community in the broadest sense.

Almost all parties in the City Council of Veldhoven brought the matter up at a regular basis and strongly endorsed the construction and exploitation of an adequate facility to allow the citizens of Veldhoven to participate in cultural and recreational activities (the time was right and the demand high).

End 1950s, Veldhoven did not have a centrally located cultural center. In 1956 however, the City Council did commission two architects to design a catholic training center. In addition to a theater and cinema, the center also had to include separate rooms for social and youth work. After the City Council closely studied the design of A.H.J.M. Vermeulen, an architect from Eindhoven, whose design best met all requirements, it turned out that the municipality’s ambitions were too high, especially in terms of finances.

Training center and theater

On 30 July 1959, three years after the above events, a meeting took place between a number of persons, who all – subject to some changes – joined the board of the ‘Community Center Veldhoven Foundation’. This foundation was founded on 10 November 1961 (chairman, town clerk L.M. van de Laar and secretary and principle General Affairs Officer C.M. Vissers). One of the objectives of the foundation was: to promote education, the sense of community and belonging and the recreational options in the municipality of Veldhoven. N.V. Philips granted a subsidy of one hundred thousand guilders to enable the initiative to succeed.  The board of the foundation, which was being set up at the time, had already commissioned architect Vermeulen in February 1960 to create a conceptual design for a cultural center for all communities in Veldhoven. The building would have to be located in the new ‘City Center’ of Veldhoven, north of d’Ekker, which was under development.

In April 1963, the architect used a scale model to present a detailed plan. To prevent Eindhoven from levelling any criticism regarding the potential loss of visitors to the theater in Eindhoven, which was being built at the time, it was established that ‘by building a community center, Veldhoven would under no circumstances attempt to become the next Eindhoven. The target group of the new theater in Eindhoven would include the citizens of Veldhoven, whereas the community center in Veldhoven would have its own distinctive place within Veldhoven.’
It turned out that the plan (budgeted at 1.8 million guilders) was not viable in terms of organization and finances.

Art Circle & Name De Schalm

Art Circle De Schalm

The art lovers in Veldhoven believed it necessary to look at ways to give Veldhoven its ‘own cultural identity’. This group, which consisted of very motivated citizens, the board of the Logo Art Circle De Schalm Foundation and the municipality of Eindhoven all shared the same ambition. On 17 October 1963, this resulted in the establishment of a new section called Art Circle ‘De Schalm’ (chairman H. Gradus and secretary A. Brand), which section was part of the Community Center Veldhoven Foundation. In a newspaper, which was especially issued for the occasion, the citizens of Veldhoven were informed of the plans of the Art Circle: establishing responsible and affordable recreational activities in terms of drama, music, ballet, cabaret, recitals, lectures, films and exhibitions and to provide cultural education to the school kids of Veldhoven.
The board of the Art Circle was assisted by Mr. Ad Willems, who was appointed as director-consultant by the board. People who were interested could join the Art Circle at a fee of 3 guilders per year and a one-of registration fee of 50 cents.  As a member of the Art Circle, you would get a significant discount on entry tickets and be able to reserve seats free of charge. Furthermore, it was possible to sponsor the Art Circle at a minimum amount of
Fl. 7.50. At the beginning, the Art Circle had more than 300 members.

The name ‘De Schalm’

On 17 October 1963, it was decided to call the newly established Art Circle ‘De Schalm’. The name refers to a link that connects all different groups within the Art Circle. The Art Circle became part of the Community Center Foundation and all activities carried out by the Art Circle thus fell under the responsibility of the board of the foundation. This included the hall, which was made available by the board. Upon inauguration of the community center in December 1964, the center was already given the name De Schalm (as was the name of the Art Circle). Soon thereafter, the whole enterprise was given the name De Schalm.

Temporary community center situated at the O.L.Vrouwedijk

Given that it would probably take some years before permission was granted (to build). And because of the fact that the municipality still had no suitable location for a cultural center, which was perceived as a shortcoming and therefore irresponsible, the board of the Community Center Veldhoven Foundation decided to look for a temporary suitable location to realize the planned activities of the Art Circle. In 1964, an acceptable solution was found: the foundation rented part of the factory hall from Goevaerts, a company in Best, which factory hall was being built at the business park located at the Onze Lieve Vrouwedijk. The location was deemed less suitable, because of its location on the outskirts of the village. However, this was the only possible solution and a temporary one at that, so it was decided to use the factory hall anyhow. A space the size of 1000 m2 was turned into a cinema and a large foyer, with seats for 476 visitors. To improve the acoustics of the building, an inclined wall was cemented in the theater hall with large openings between the bricks. On Friday evening 18 December 1964, the dream finally came true: the opening of the (temporary) theater hall was celebrated.

The official opening was conducted by Mayor G. van de Ven while the male choir and harmonies of Veldhoven livened up the festivities.  Theater group Proloog was the first to perform in the hall, with the Dutch premiere of ‘The Overcoat’, a realistic play written by Gogol. Furthermore, from 19 December until 2 January, a committee of the Art Circle had organized its first exhibition in the foyer, using pieces of art from private collections. On 1 April 1966, the community center (now also called De Schalm) was also officially put into use as cinema with the opening night premiere of Dutch movie ‘Een ochtend van zes weken’ (a morning of six weeks) by director Nicolai van der Heyden. In February 1967, the board of the Community Center Foundation had to dissolve Art Circle De Schalm. The board preferred a small advisory body to be responsible for the coordination of a responsible cultural program (in reality, the decisions regarding the content of the program were mainly taken by director-consultant Willems and after him by manager Wout J. Verhoef.)

Cultural Center De Schalm’s move to Meiveld

In 1971, everyone started to think of a building with one or multiple flexible rooms, to be realized in the new city center of Veldhoven, which was still under development. When the economy was picking up again mid-eighties, the City Council resumed the development. In March 1985, architectural firm De Bever from Eindhoven was commissioned to draw up a design plan regarding the construction of a town hall/community center (the library was also included at a later stage) at short notice. In a relatively short amount of time, the architect designed a building, which included a theater, restaurant, town hall and library, all under one roof, and which soon was given the name Community Center (and which became the centerpiece of the new center of Veldhoven.)
On 26 September 1986, the construction of the new Community Center commenced. The total expenditure for the theater section of the center amounted to approximately 7.6 million guilders. The large hall could accommodate 450 persons; the small hall (for smaller concerts, films and cabaret) 150 visitors.
When the Community Center was officially opened on Thursday 29 September 1988, De Schalm finally had a real theater, which was even part of a new urban center. All important main functions were represented in this urban center.
In these days, the term center was used in all superlatives and therefore the name soon became Cultural Center De Schalm. The opening was celebrated with a cultural week full of festivities, during which the stage of De Schalm was inaugurated by means of activities organized by all cultural clubs in Veldhoven

In 1993, the name of the Community Center Veldhoven Foundation was changed into the Cultural Center De Schalm Foundation by means of a notarial deed, since this name was already generally used. This led to further professionalization of the foundation by officially appointing Mr. Jan W. van Dijk, who had already worked as host for many years, as director.
In 1998, the foundation was renamed Theater De Schalm and in 2000 Jan Wouda was appointed as director.

The 50st anniversary of De Schalm in 2011 coincided with the 90th anniversary of the municipality of Veldhoven (on 1 May 1921, the municipalities of Oerle, Zeelst and Veldhoven-Meerveldhoven were combined into one new municipality named Veldhoven). The cultural legacy of the old village centers, where the villagers had lived their own lives for so long, was still sensed for a long time. A common ‘community and recreational center’ where all citizens of Veldhoven could learn about art and culture (as were the intentions of De Schalm), was an important way to bring people together into one residential and living community. Something the old centers could never accomplish separately. Within halve a century, De Schalm proved to be invaluable for the community of Veldhoven.

In season 2014/2015, Theater De Schalm underwent a major renovation to meet the requirements laid down in the Working Conditions Act. During the renovation, the complete annex of the theater was demolished and rebuilt (3 floors instead of 1) and both theater halls were renovated.