Open Monument Day invites you to Flanders’ dance halls and theatres, past and present
On Friday night I am invited for the reception of the opening of the Open Monument Day in Dilbeek, and on Saturday I shall be an invited guest at the opening of the new building of the Academy of Performing Arts, for which we had several meetings and talks for many years. Now after more than twenty years we have reasons to celebrate, that at last the performing arts training shall have it proper place and should have enough classes to meet the demand of pupils. For years we had a shortage of classrooms.
Better late than never, the academy of the performing arts in Dilbeek can say thanks to the Cultural Centre of Dilbeek, where they could happily use the class rooms and theatre for many years. The theatre building shows signs of concrete-rot. for years it has been the guest-house for the theatre (750 seats), the art rental service that rents out to individuals and companies, the Municipal Academy of Music, Drama and Dance Dilbeek, the community library, an exhibition space, a class kitchen and the Praet Cafe (Chatpub), were people can choose a snack or drink and talk a lot.
On Sunday, September 9, 2012 the people can enjoy already the 24th edition of Flanders Heritage Days. This time is devoted to music, words and images. Artistry in all its forms is central. Places where art and culture were made and were culture was experienced by both high society and the man in the street, will be put in the picture. Though Flanders does not really show any interest in the arts and the government has only eyes for those things which bring in enough money, it is good that people can see that many places worked against that stubbornness government that not wanted to invest more in the arts. Many private initiatives and local community efforts tired to give the arts a platform.
Dilbeek and Strombeek-Bever (Grimbergen) are such places in the ‘Rand van Brussel’ (at the Outskirts of Brussels) which offer already for many years very interesting theatre, non-commercial and artistic films and exhibitions.
The Cultural Centre of Strombeek features a functional accommodation for a professionally equipped small theatre (404 seats), a multi-purpose hall with fixed stage (400 persons), a class-kitchen, a dance and ballet hall, two exhibition rooms (700 m2), a lobby with bar (independent dealers), and offers also youth and toddler workshops (50 people), workshops Visual Arts, housed in an other building: the Piereman, plus offers administrative and technical workshop and seven meeting rooms (400 people) and for studio operation. This property is used for activities in-house, but can also be hired by associations or organizations.
Westrand and Academy in Dilbeek
I would recommend to visit those two theatres and the adjacent academies for the performing arts.
In Dilbeek you can visit two remarkable buildings.
The Spanish architect Carlos Arroyo Zapatero was inspired to design the new Academy of Music, Drama and Dance Dilbeek on the work of Alfons Hoppenbrouwers, architect of the building Westrand.
I did not go to have a peep when it was in construction, but what I saw before from the plans, it can be quite interesting. The colourful façade on the invitation card got me a sense of inviting music-notes. (Saturday night I do hope to take some pictures with my small camera)
A whole day people can take a look at the brand new building of the Academy. In Westrand you can find an exhibition about the building of the Academy and the link with Hoppenbrouwers.
During the Heritage Day there are also several tours organized in Westrand Building . The tours last approximately 60 minutes and start at 11h, 14h, 15h and 16h.
Looking behind many scenes
For this 24th celebration of immovable heritage in Flanders, on 9 September, visitors can look behind the scenes of sites where culture is – or once was – conceived.
The locks will be removed from the doors of cultural heritage sites, those meant for both the elite and the common man. The elite circles mostly looked for their diversions in a world of mirrored halls, music parlours, private libraries, opera buildings and art rooms. Commoners, on the other hand, tended to come into contact with culture in churches, schools and cafés. In the streets, people encountered cultural activities during local festivals and via the music of brass bands or the carillon.
Catholics and arts
Music, words and images were often used in buildings to instil a message in the minds of visitors; they were, for example, essential to the experience of the Catholic faith in churches. Moreover, for a long time the Catholic Church was the most important client for visual artists, composers, architects and craftsmen. Because of this, churches are now often veritable treasure troves of art and heritage.
Art and culture were democratised during the 19th and 20th centuries, as more and more people had the time and resources to join a cultural association or to study art. Open Monument Day also offers visitors the rare chance to walk around the spaces where writers, painters, poets and architects were – and sometime still are – inspired to create their art.
These houses and studios often carry the marks of their inhabitants. Numerous landscapes, cities and villages in Flanders have also been a source of inspiration. Cultural heroes are often immortalised by statues, tombs and commemorative plaques that bring these characters back to life.
Shifts in cultural purpose
Finally, Open Monument Day highlights shifts in cultural purpose, from a puppet theatre housed in a former chapel to an Academy for Visual Arts in an old swimming pool.
A masterpiece in each province
“Flanders Today” chose five top sites, a surprise in each province, out of 545 diverse heritage choices in 197 Flemish cities and municipalities. Access to these, as to every Open Monument Day site, is free of charge.
Cinema Walburg in Hamont-Achel, Limburg province
Cinema Walburg was built in 1957 as a modern cinema, but there were already silent movies being shown in the building since 1926. It seats almost 500 and was one of the biggest cinemas in the region at the time. In 2009, it was updated to become a contemporary cinema and theatre, with subtle adjustments that have kept the atmosphere intact.
Today, it is the only cinema from the 1950s that remains in Limburg, and it still plays an important role in the Limburg’s cultural life. Next weekend, you can take a look behind the scenes, visit an expo on the history of film in Hamont-Achel and watch movies old and new.
Atlantikwall Raversijde in Ostend, West Flanders
Among the 60 bunkers and two kilometres of trenches from the two World Wars at the Atlantikwall openair museum, you’ll find bunkers named after composers, such as Mozart, Brahms and Verdi. Discover the history of the “musical bunkers” in this area of Ostend, with the scores of their respective composers as your soundtrack. Atlantikwall Raversijde also pays attention to the poets who visited the site during the Second World War(the “Dichterfahrt”). Furthermore, actors will demonstrate medieval music traditions, of which traces were discovered among archaeological findings in the now-vanished fishing village of Walraversijde.
Nemrod House in Ghent, East Flanders
As an old sugar refinery, built in 1807, the Nemrod House is a legacy of the industrial activity that flourished along the river Leie at the beginning of the 19th century. From 1849, the main building with its pediment front was used by the Nemrod Royal Crossbow Association, which installed a magnificent dance hall on the first floor. This hall, decorated with cherubs, masks and frivolous flower motifs, evokes a unique Renaissance atmosphere.
It now is an ideal practice environment for arts students at the Artevelde University College, who will give a ballet performance, a musical concert for children and a classical concert with their lecturers. There is an exhibition by students of multimedia arts, who will compare their work to that of students from Russia, Finland and Ukraine. Another exhibition tells the story of the Nemrod House’s historical and industrial past.
Troubleyn/ Laboratory in Antwerp, Antwerp province
The studio of visual artist and theatre maker Jan Fabre is the former Ring Theatre, which was destroyed by a fire in 1974. With Flemish architect Jan Dekeyser, Fabre transformed the ruined site in his native Seefhoek quarter into a modern workshop for his theatre company Troubleyn and a laboratory for other artists who need space to experiment. The place is special both for its architecture and for its collection of work by celebrated Flemish artists such as Luc Tuymans, Wim Delvoye and Michaël Borremans.
Heilig Hart Institute in Leuven, Flemish Brabant
The most remarkable part of the Heilig Hart Institute, in a green area at the edge of Leuven, is the modernistic wing with a chapel, built around 1930. Artist Eugeen Yoors created the brilliant cathedral glass windows – a total of 450 square metres – which have recently been renovated. In the chapel hangs a depiction of the Stations of the Cross from 1938, by Flemish expressionist Albert Servaes. The organ has also been renovated recently and will be played on 9 September. You can visit the impressive dance hall as well, designed by Flemish architect Victor Broos in 1946.
Open Monument Day
Some sites and activities require a reservation; check the programme www.openmonumenten.be
- Antwerp Central station nominated for prize (flanderstoday.eu)
Antwerp Central station is among five examples of Flemish heritage selected for this year’s Monument Prize, to be announced in September. Each of the shortlisted monuments wins €2,500, with the winner picking up €12,500.
- European arts cuts: Dutch dance loses out as Netherlands slashes funding (guardian.co.uk)
The Internationaal Danstheaterhad been bracing itself for bad news. In the end, its worst fears were realised.On Wednesday, the Netherlands‘ Performing Arts Fund, which administers government funding to the fields of dance, theatre and music, announced its allocations and the Amsterdam-based theatre was left empty-handed.The theatre, which for the past 50 years has specialised in dance productions that focus on different world cultures, had applied for €900,000 (£710,000), far less than the €2.8m budget it was previously allocated. However, on Wednesday it found out that it was getting no public subsidy at all.The drastic cut was part of a Dutch government decision taken last year to slash the culture budget of €800m by 25 %.
As a result, from the start of 2013, countless theatres, museums and orchestras will see their funding either severely curtailed or, like the Internationaal Danstheater, cut off altogether.
- Flanders Ballet appoints new artistic director (expatica.com)
Following the departure of Kathryn Bennetts at the end of June, the Flanders Royal Ballet board of directors launched an extensive search for a replacement, which saw an international jury interview more than fifty candidates. Yesterday it was announced that Assis Carreiro will take over as artistic director in September. The Portuguese-born Carreiro said in a press release that she would “use guest choreographers, new productions and classical ballet performances to take the company to new heights and further develop it as a national crown jewel”.
- The new dancing queen: Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker (standard.co.uk)
From the month-long Pina Bausch marathon that has just drawn to a close to this week’s Big Dance — which hops all over London before leaping into Trafalgar Square on Saturday for Wayne McGregor’s mass dance-in — the discipline has broken free of the arts pages to become a headline act.
De Keersmaeker, a giant in the contemporary dance world, is one of the stars of the 15-week launch festival that Tate is staging in the underground space, situated directly behind the Turbine Hall.The choreographer-performer is looking forward to engaging with the contemporary art audience. “Tate Modern is an exceptional space,” she tells me when we meet in Brussels. “I don’t think there’s any other place in the world where such a large public are invited to have an experience with art. Sometimes you get the feeling that it’s a theme park but in a very challenging way.”
- Flemish days at Floriade(flanderstoday.eu)
Flanders deserves to be considered a world-class player in horticulture, according to Flemish ministerpresident Kris Peeters, speaking at the start of a three-day Flanders focus at the world horticultural exhibition Floriade in Venlo, the Netherlands, last week.
“Nowhere in the world is there such an exchange of know-how,” said Peeters, whose portfolio includes agriculture. “The cooperation between research institutions, scientists and growers works extremely well, and research results find their way quickly into practice.”
Flanders accounts for 95% of Belgium’s horticultural output and counts 1,800 growers, who annually produce €500 million in flowers and plants. In addition, its central position in Europe makes it, Peeters said, “a hub for international trade in horticultural products”. The region exports €656 million in plants every year – more than it produces itself.
- New London theatre and stage openings: September 2012 (telegraph.co.uk)
St. James Theatre, the first newly built theatre complex in central London in 30 years, opens to the public this month. On the site of the former Westminster Theatre at 12 Palace Street in Victoria, the space will include a 312-seat theatre, a studio space, brasserie and bar. David Gilmore, artistic director, and James Albrecht, assistant artistic director, oversee a programme that is set to include musicals, comedies and classic revivals as well as offering a London venue to touring and regional productions. The first show at the theatre will be Sandi Toksvig’s Bully Boy, which runs from September 18 to October 27
- “Flemish ornamental horticulture among the best in the world” (expatica.com)
On Friday Flemish Minister-president Kris Peeters CD&V, also being the minister for Agriculture, put Flemish ornamental horticulture under the spotlight during the decennial Dutch horticultural expo, the Floriade 2012, held in Venlo this year.