The Beursschouwburg is a multidisciplinary arts centre, situated in the heart of Brussels. It’s the perfect place for theatrical productions, performances, films, concerts, exhibitions, debates, lectures, parties and a drink in the BeursKafee. The Beursschouwburg is recognized as a theatre which provides a platform for young and innovative artistes, thus it’s the place to discover the famous names of tomorrow.
Apart from a pile of attractively stacked bricks in the heart of Brussels, the Beursschouwburg is, for the time being, principally an inspiring platform for between-the-arts. Here, artists reflect, show, scrap and start again in an ongoing dialogue with thinking and creative Brusselèèrs. The Beursschouwburg is a melting-pot and a thorn in the side, where art is served while it’s still hot. Where, now and again, artists rattle the programming. Where there’s more to life than art. Where performance, celebration, encounter and craziness all join in a merry dance.
The Beursschouwburg makes this happen by:
► making an exacting choice for younger artists (active in Brussels and far beyond)
► an integrated multi-disciplinary approach which aims to put the creative rather than only the artistic in the spotlight
► offering a three-speed programme instead of seasons or festivals
► providing an inescapable view of the city
► exploiting its central location as an open meeting-place
► sparking genuine and complementary (international) collaboration
associated artists: Louis Vanhaverbeke, Nastio Mosquito, Christina Stuhlberger & Hana Miletić
Louis Vanhaverbeke (b.1988) graduated from the Mixed Media department of Sint-Lucas in Ghent in 2010, and from the School for New Dance Development or SNDO in Amsterdam in 2014. His practice embraces performances, installations and drawings. We discovered his Kokokito project in 2014 and were immediately sold on his playful exploration of the relationship between language, motion and outright bungling. We were not the only ones: in 2014 Vanhaverbeke won the Krisztina de Châtel Award for the most promising choreography; his 2015 performance at Theater Aan Zee was crowned with the Circuit X prize; and in 2016 he presented his Multiverse project, which was also presented at the Beursschouwburg.
The Angolian artist Nástio Mosquito (b. 1981), who recently settled in Ghent, is a multimedia and performance artist who toys with African stereotypes in Western contexts. He often uses himself as a central figure to place question marks around his own role and the role of the audience. In the visual arts, Nástio Mosquito is no newcomer. His work was presented at the 56th Venice Biennial and the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, UK, in 2015, at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, USA (2013), the Tate Modern in London (2012) and at the 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010). In his five-year association with the Beursschouwburg, he intentionally steps beyond the visual arts in order to further develop his stand-up performances, city projects and concertante interventions.
The German-Filipina filmmaker Christina Stuhlberger (b.1982) lives and works in Brussels, completing a Masters in film at the KASK School of Arts in Ghent in 2016. She is interested in social processes and behaviour patterns which she attempts to unravel by way of documentary film codes. In a previous life, she was an environmental expert for the United Nations, with detachments in the Netherlands, the UK, Peru, Mexico and Switzerland. Since 2012 she has been associated with the artist-run platform, August Orts. In 2014, her undergraduate film, On Difference as such, made in collaboration with Chloë Delanghe, received a VAF Wildcard award. Her films have been shown at international film festivals, including IDFA, Amsterdam (2012), LUFF, Lausanne (2014), Visions du Réel, Nyon (2015). In 2017, she will use her VAF Wildcard to begin a new project and will continue her investigation of the processes of creation and her ‘love of filmmaking’.
Born in Croatia in 1982, Hana Miletić now lives in Brussels. She holds a Masters in Arts and Archeology from the Vrije University in Brussels and in Photography from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp. Miletić charts the traces of political change at the individual and collective levels. She calls herself a street photographer, using photography as a means of orientating herself in a continuous investigation of social realities. Her work consists of performances, installations, workshops and printed matter. In her Beursschouwburg Materials exhibition in the autumn of 2016 – part of the 'Come Together' focus programme – she visualized social fabrics in two ways: in the form of her new, woven works, and by organizing an associated programme of workshops, lectures, performances and screenings.
The Beursschouwburg also wants to be associated with artists in the field of music. Given the unique and ever-changing dynamics of contemporary popular music, we decided to establish diverse associations, each for a period of one year. In 2017, we will be supporting the further development of the Brussels-British multi-talent, Zoë McPherson (b. 1990). She and Falk Schrauwen together form the Empty Taxi duo. Her electronic music can best be described as techno and ethnic ambient, interspersed with song.
L’Amicale de Production
Developed as a cooperative platform for projects, L'Amicale de Production produces cross-cutting genres at the interface of the visual arts and live performance. L’Amicale is engaged in a cooperative experiment in order to respond to aesthetic, technological and economic concerns focused on new writing for performance.
“We are carrying out an investigation into the production of hybrid formats, trying to remain as close as possible to the projects as part of a constant effort to treat their authors with the fairness they deserve.”
Launched in 2010, L’Amicale has offices located at the Malterie, in Lille, and at the Beursschouwburg, in Brussels, with which the company has formed a new partnership for four years.
Miet Warlop (Torhout, 1978) is a Belgian visual artist and theatre producer based in Brussels. After her Master’s degree in Visual Arts at KASK in Ghent, where she majored in Three-Dimensional Art, she won the KASK Franciscus Pycke Jury Award (2004) and the Young Theatre Prize of Theater aan Zee in Ostend with her graduation performance Huilend Hert, Aangeschoten Wild. A whole raft of performances, actions, interventions and scenographies followed. Under the banner Grote Hoop/Berg (2006-2008), she developed a number of visual performances, including Proposition 1: Reanimation; Proposition 2: Reconstruction and Proposition 3: Play the Life. Next, she created Springville (Buda & CAMPO, 2009), a fifty-minute-long movement of chaos, expectation and surprise, which was nominated for the Theater Festival 2010. In the same year, she also introduced Talk Show, a lecture-performance in collaboration with Hilde D'haeyere, about the impact of slapstick stunts on a verbal performance.
After a two-year stint in Berlin, where she focused on visual work and developed a new series of dynamic actions, she created Mystery Magnet (CAMPO, 2012): a performance in which six performers build an oversized installation and ends with a spectacular final image. The performance is still touring the world to this day.
Since September 2012, she has been hired by Beursschouwburg as an artist. She has organised the Alligator project, among others, a project and collective she developed with Reggie Watts, Michael Portnoy and Ieva Miseviciuté, in search for opportunities without compromise. Meanwhile, she explored the scope of her visual work and Nervous Picture performances, with projects and invitations from both the visual and theatre world. In 2013, she showed the creations at the Baltic Triennal, International Art in Vilnius, Lisson Gallery in London, and at the Blue Project Foundation in Barcelona.
In late 2014, Miet Warlop presented DRAGGING THE BONE, a performance which premiered here on 3 October.
Gerard-Jan Claes & Olivia Rochette
From 2013 until 2016 the Brussels-based directors Olivia Rochette (1987) and Gerard-Jan (1987) Claes are the Beursschouwburg’s artists in residence. They graduated in 2010 from the School of Arts - KASK with Because We Are Visual. This documentary allows the viewer to discover the world of public video journals.
In 2012 they made the poetic documentary Rain about the transmission of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s contemporary choreography Rain to the Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris. Besides Zéro de Conduite, they also co-founded Sabzian. This website is a collection of online reflections on cinema and maps, cinephile events in Belgium and surroundings. In 2014 they started shooting their second documentary with Savage Film: Grands travaux.
50 years of history
The premises where the present Beursschouwburg is housed has gone through a whole series of transformations. In 1885 the ‘Brasserie Flamande’ was built by an unknown architect in the Auguste Ortsstraat. A shop, a party venue and a café were housed in the building. The Brasserie was extended in 1922 and in 1946 converted to the Théatre de la Bourse, a theatre used by all kinds of organizations.
The party venue on the first floor was converted to a ‘salle à l’italienne’ by architect Jacques Cuisinier, who in 1958 also designed the Martinitore.
In 1997 the then Minister of Culture organized an architectural competition for the (meanwhile much-needed) renovation of the Beursschouwburg building. The competition was won by DHP-architects and B-architects.
The renovations took from 2001 until 2004. On 5th February 2004 the renovated Beursschouwburg opened its doors with ten days of festivities.
Evolution of the organization / operation
► The 60s
During the 60s there was an increasing need for a specific Flemish cultural network in Brussels. On 5th February 1965 the kick-off was given to the Beursschouwburg as a Flemish platform in the heart of Brussels. Dries Wieme, the director at that time, gradually developed the Beursschouwburg’s own theatre company. De Werkgemeenschap was born, a company with a distinct political hue. However, this company was swiftly quashed by the government, who had earmarked the Beursschouwburg to take the role of an open-minded cultural centre in Brussels.
► The 70s
In 1970 Frans Van Langendonck takes over the control from Dries Wieme. In 1972 the Beursschouwburg is taken under the wing of the CCC (Contact- en Culuurcentrum vzw) with Jari Demeulemeester, who later became artistic manager of the Ancienne Belgique. From 1974 it becomes a separate organization, vzw Cultureel Animatiecentrum Beursschouwburg. During that period the first editions of what has meanwhile become the legendary urban festival Mallemunt is organized, an annual open-air festival on the Muntplein which would continue until 1987.
Raymond van het Groenewoud and Willem Vermandere take the first steps in their career there, alongside young international talent such as Tom Waits and Dire Straits. In ‘78 the first Rockrally was organized, in collaboration with Humo.
Children’s theatre is also given a place in the Beursschouwburg thanks to the programme director Oda Van Neygen (who later, in 1991 would set up the BRONKS children’s theatre). At the end of the 70s the emphasis is on ‘experiment’, which includes organizing the Performance Art Festival. The Beursschouwburg takes a defining role in spearheading art and social debate. It develops into a free port for new theatre, modern dance, video art and performance.
In 1977 Jari Demeulemeester is succeeded by Lieven Van den Broeck. In that same year the Beursschouwburg sets the pace with ‘Brusselement’ and the first Kaaitheaterfestival. Hugo De Greef is engaged for the coordination of the Kaaitheaterfestival. In 1979 Dirk Vercruysse becomes responsible for the Beursschouwburg’s programme and Hugo Vanden Driessche is business manager.
► The 80s
In the 80s the Beursschouwburg is the place to be. Jan Decore, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Ivo van Hove, Marc Didden, Jan Fabre, Jan Lauwers, ...all present their own work. We talk about the birth of the Flemish Wave. In 1984 Johan Wambacq is appointed as performing arts programmer and is responsible for the communication.
In terms of business and finance, however, things do not look quite so rosy. Gradually the rented building lacks vibrancy, following which in 1983 it is purchased by the ministry of the Vlaamse Gemeenschap (Flemish Communmity). At the end of the eighties the glory years are clearly over. Financial problems, the dreadful state of the building and the lack of clear focus in the programme result in a serious crisis.
► The 90s
Headed by Paul Corthout and then Marijke Vandebuerie, from 1991 the Beursschouwburg resolutely changes direction: the focus is on all Brussels residents, not only on the Flemish in Brussels. The new team – which includes Dirk Seghers, Dirk Verstockt and Patrick Moyersoen as artistic personnel and Carine Meulders as artistic coordinator - opts for a thematic style of operation and for a large number of links with youth clubs, community centres, … thereby involving the multi-cultural society around the arts centre in its operation.
This social commitment is also expressed in the ten-day occupation of the Hôtel Central, the apartment building opposite the theatre, as a protest against the building of a modern luxury hotel on the spot. Once again the Beursschouwburg forms a forum for experiment in all kinds of genres, with a mix of mature and young creative people like Pieter De Buysser and Benjamin Verdonck.
► From 2000: the nillies
2001 marks the start of vital renovation works to the theatre, causing the operation to move for three years to an empty garage/shop in the Kazernestraat under the name BSBis. The artistic team of Dirk Seghers and Carine Meulders together with B-architecten set up the premises in a most inventive way with sandbags for hall walls and prefab greenhouses for offices. During that period the Beursschouwburg banks on new artistes, making it authoritative in the artistic debate.
A number of leaders follow in quick succession: Marijke Vandebuerie being followed by Carine Meulders, Guido Minne and Marie Droogmans as general manager. From 2002 the position of business manager is taken up by Frederik Verrote. From 5th February 2004 the operation returns to the renovated premises with ten days of festivities. However, following the return the operation once again finds itself back in the doldrums due to various financial and organizational problems, resulting in a lengthy crisis.
Cis Bierinckx takes the helm in 2006 and re-establishes the relevance of the Beursschouwburg with performances including Mil Rau and Meg Stuart. From 2008 he is assisted by Koen De Visschier as general manager. However, the hoped-for large public influx remains a trickle, prolonging the financial problems.
► The here and now
In 2012 Tom Bonte takes on the leadership, filling the position or general and artistic director, together with Helena Kritis as film and visual arts programmer and Vincent Tetaert as music programmer. Tom Bonte opens up the programme to attract a wide-ranging audience with a strong link to the surrounding city. Young talent, cross-fertilization and an opportunity to experiment are pivotal in the diverse programme of stage arts, film, music and visual art. The Beursschouwburg avoids monotone character and instead embraces a polymorphic identity which seamlessly coalesces with generation 2.0.
sponsors and partners
with the support of:
Vlaamse Gemeenschap: Administratie Cultuur
Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie van het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest
Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest
Sabam for Culture
board of directors
Agna Smisdom (president)
Pieter T'Jonck (secretaris)
Jan Bulkmans (penningmeester)
Anna Van der Wee
Herman Van Laar
Frank Van Massenhove
Anna Van der Wee
Herman Van Laar
Frank Van Massenhove
Koen De Visscher
Godfried Van de Perre
Graphic design: Atelier Brenda
Website: Joel Galvez
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