Brussels artists build ‘cultural mausoleum’ for 2020 cultural season
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    Brussels artists build ‘cultural mausoleum’ for 2020 cultural season

    © Milena Desse

    A “cultural mausoleum” for Belgium’s arts and culture sector popped up in Brussels on Friday, as citizens responded to an anonymous call to mark the end of a cultural season unlike any other.

    © Milena Desse

    Roses, theatre props, music sheets and placards were strewn across Brussels’ Mont des Arts on Friday in a collective show of support to a sector left badly battered by the crisis.

    Organised in secret and anonymously, the symbolic action called on artists, creators and sympathisers to dress in black and march in the direction of the central Brussels square between 10:00 AM and noon.

    © Milena Desse

    To avoid gatherings, participants were asked to only pass briefly by the site to drop off their contribution to what they dubbed a “cultural mausoleum” and then go on their way.

    One attendant said there was a brief moment of clapping and said passing by to drop off a rose was like a sort of “ritual” to wrap up the 2020 cultural season that never was.

    © Milena Desse

    Attendants were also asked to take part in the symbolic action individually but were encouraged to form a socially-distanced procession in the direction of the square if some crossed paths with one another.

    Hordes of people responded to the call, shared through social media, and laid placards, books, musical partitions or theatre programmes at the summit of the square, which offers a birdseye view of the normally bustling city centre.

    © BELGA/PAUL-HENRI VERLOOY

    The words “cancelled” were written across many of the documents spread across the ground, with some theatre fans also bringing a rose and symbolic tomatoes.

    The action coincides with an afternoon of hearings at the federal parliament during which MPs are set to hear from representatives of the arts and culture sector, who will make their case for wider support from the state.

    © Milena Desse

    Organisers said the impromptu memorial aimed to highlight the hope the sector had that leaders would roll out concrete measures capable of seeing artists and creators through the public health crisis.

    Regional and local authorities have already announced a series of grants and aides to help pull the sector, left in an economic freefall as the pandemic led to a string of event and performance cancellations.

    Alongside the hospitality and catering industry, arts and culture representatives are hoping that a National Security Council next week will provide answers regarding the reopening of their respective sectors.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times