More than 130 Belgian venues reopen illegally


May 5, 2021

Some 130 cultural venues in Wallonia and Brusselshave reopened illegally after six months of closure, in protest of governmentrestrictions.

Since 30 April,the venues have been welcoming the general public for a number of culturalactivities including concerts, screenings, shows, debates, performances andpublic rehearsals.

The nine-dayprotest, which is being held by the campaign group ‘Still Standing forCulture’, culminates on 8 May when 50-capacity outdoor events are permitted.

According to thegroup, all activities will be carried in accordance with the health protocol,which includes social distancing, mask-wearing and the separation of householdbubbles.

“We will do this without underestimating thedangerousness of the virus, but we recall that experiments and studies showthat the opening of cultural places has only a minimal impact on thecontamination curves in the face of the effects attributed to the activities.businesses, shops and services,” reads a statement on the Still Standing for Culture website.


“We will do so torefuse that certain sectors of activity and certain categories of thepopulation are the only ones to carry the weight of measures on theirshoulders. And to defend the diversity of places and practices.”

Brussels venue Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg(KVS) wasthe first Belgian venue that pledged to open its doors regardless of any restrictions inplace but ultimately, the government agreed to turn its scheduled performances intotest events.

According to Flemish business newspaper Tidj,the Flemish region is not participating in the demonstration as the regionalgovernment has provided a range of support measures for affected cultureworkers, artists and cultural entrepreneurs – including a €60 million safety net for festival organisers.

However, theFlemish events sector may be inclined to join the demonstrations if theregional government does not provide a reopening plan after the next meeting ofthe Consultation Committee on 11 May.

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