As the Consultative Committee convenes yet again this Friday morning to discuss further coronavirus restrictions, the cultural institutions have issued a passionate appeal to ministers not to close the entire sector completely.
A joint communication signed by (among others) the Royal Theatre of La Monnaie, Bozar fine art gallery, the Belgian national orchestra, and the National Theatre expresses concern not simply for the fate of these cultural establishments themselves, but that their importance is overlooked as the government introduces sweeping measures.
‘We find the closure of theatres is inconceivable and have an uneasy sensation of “déjà-vu”. It would be completely arbitrary to refuse the public access to culture when everyone can see that the most dangerous sources of contamination are elsewhere,’ the communication read. It continued by highlighting the ‘strict protocols’ put in place to limit the chance of the virus spreading among visitors or employees.
To this end, those working in the sector have called for measures that allow cultural institutions to remain open and fulfil their purpose, namely ‘to give meaning to life, to stir deep emotions, to provoke, to soothe, and to offer comfort’. Managers acknowledge the immense difficulties posed by the pandemic but use these challenges to justify their continuation.
Support announced for Brussels nightclubs
Whilst galleries and theatres may be able to implement measures that prevent the propagation of the virus – such as enforcing strict social distancing and the mandatory wearing of masks – these constraints are practically impossible in the hospitality sector, which has led to the closure of nightclubs and could lead authorities to bring forward the closing hour of bars.
To assist the nightlife industry, the Brussels Government announced on Thursday a €1 million support package for nightclubs, which were closed on 27 November for at least three weeks. Individual venues are set to receive between €14,000 and €54,000 depending on the number of employees, Belga News Agency reports.
Secretary of State of the Brussels-Capital Region Barbara Trachte said in the announcement that “Even without forcible closure, many sectors are seeing a significant drop in activity or orders: tourist venues, the events sector, bars and restaurants, and the sports sector.” She added that individual sectors will be considered independently in the coming days in order that the Government can decide on the best measures specific to individual industries.