Netherlands

KVS civil disobedience is not imitated, but approval is given: ‘We are more than a public toilet’

“We claim the right to do this.” With those words, KVS director Michael De Cock announced on Thursday evening that the Brussels municipal theater is programming the performance Jonathan on April 26, for an audience of fifty people – whether it is allowed by the government or not. “We want to show that it is perfectly possible to play safely”, De Cock argues, and he immediately received support from musician Frederik Sioen and actor-director Stany Crets, two important tenors of Crisis Cell Culture. “We need a crowbar”, it sounds.

Other large cultural institutions in Brussels and Flanders also understand the KVS approach. However, nobody seems to be interested in following De Cock’s example and ignoring the rules of the government, which still prohibit the organization of performances. “I understand what Michael De Cock wants to do, and I am convinced that we can work safely,” says Steven Vandervelden of the Leuven arts center STUK. “But at STUK it is important to function in a larger whole and to speak with the government. I note that the momentum to relax is not there at the moment, but we will not take the step towards civil disobedience. ”

For Guy Cassiers, director of the Antwerp Toneelhuis, the announcement of the KVS came as a complete surprise, he explains. “I think we should make sure that the civil disobedience of the KVS does not stand in the way of discussions with the government. But I understand the frustration. The cultural sector has not been a topic of conversation at all in recent months, and that lack of perspective is very demotivating. I am glad that at least it is now being discussed again. ”

Franky Devos, director of the Voo Arts Center, explains: ‘Musicians have the need and desire to play.’Image Damon De Backer

The same sound can be heard at the Brussels concert hall Ancienne Belgique. “This is not our strategy, but I do understand the purpose of the KVS. We have been without perspective for a long time, while we have the capacity to organize events in a perfectly safe manner, ”says AB director Tom Bonte. “It is a credit to the KVS that culture will in all probability be on the agenda of the government again, because many organizations, artists and employees have been on the dry floor for months.”

Economically not feasible

Now it is up to the government to offer perspective: most houses seem to want to wait for that perspective before resuming their programming. “If that perspective turns into mid-May, then it will be mid-May. Each house will have to decide for itself whether it is possible to start up again with the conditions that then apply ”, says Bonte. This will take a while for the AB. “We are an organization that obtains a lot of resources from ticket sales, and less from subsidies.”

An event for fifty, as the KVS is planning, is therefore not economically feasible – the doors of the Ancienne Belgique will not open for less than two hundred visitors. “We assume that we will no longer schedule live concerts this spring. We are focusing on the organization of Boterhammen in het Park and the Feeërieën at the end of August ”, Bonte explains.

Other houses still have plans in the coming months. “We have been doing what is possible under the conditions and circumstances since June, and that is quite a lot,” says Vandervelden. “There is now an exhibition that we can receive quite a lot of people.” STUK does not want to pin itself down on a date for relaxation. “That date has often been postponed, but we very carefully hope that more can be done from May. We have moved our Artefact festival to June, with a large expo part. We will not be able to receive 18,000 people, but we will be able to receive 4000 or 5000. ”

Guy Cassiers, director of the Antwerp Toneelhuis: 'I think we should be careful that the civil disobedience of the KVS does not stand in the way of discussions with the government.' Image Lara Gasparotto
Guy Cassiers, director of the Antwerp Toneelhuis: ‘I think we should be careful that the civil disobedience of the KVS does not stand in the way of discussions with the government.’Image Lara Gasparotto

The Ghent Voo? Uit also has plans. “It looked as if we could organize open-air concerts for fifty people on our terrace from April,” says director Franky Devos, “but in the end it was decided not to allow that. I understand that, but it is a shame. ” Devos hopes that such plans can still go ahead. “Musicians have the need and desire to play”, he says, and so does the audience – the April joke La Boum in the Bois de la Cambre, which got out of hand, two weeks ago, shows that people need an outlet. “The culture sector can safely open the valve again.”

Cassiers also sees that people are coming together more and more. “The streets here in Antwerp are overcrowded. And then the people who go shopping or go to the market come here to the toilet. For months now, we have actually mainly functioned as a public toilet, but we are more than that. If there is one place where people can gather safely, it is here. We have three different entrances and different stairs here, we can keep the spectators perfectly separated. I don’t see why a theater would be more unsafe than Zaventem or Ikea. ”

If it depends on Cassiers, the doors of his Bourla theater will open again on 1 May. “We want to follow the rules, but we assume that there will be more flexibility from 1 May. For the time being, we have not been told that this is not possible. We can receive our audience in good conditions, which have long been discussed with the government and the city council. ”

KVS civil disobedience is not imitated, but approval is given: ‘We are more than a public toilet’
Source link KVS civil disobedience is not imitated, but approval is given: ‘We are more than a public toilet’

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