‘Good vibes, great connections’: Hands Up Festival brings Brussels artists closer to audiences

‘Good vibes, great connections’: Hands Up Festival brings Brussels artists closer to audiences
Photo by Tarcisio Tourinho.

Community artists and organisers are celebrating the success of a four-day arts festival that brought together audiences and artists from across the Belgian capital.

The multidisciplinary urban festival, called Hands Up, took place over three days in the Beursschouwburg, an arts centre located in the heart of Brussels.

“The idea with Hands Up was to organize an urban event that would foster connections within the community,” Morgand Katako told The Brussels Times.

“We wanted to create a connection with all different artists from the urban culture - to give the public more experiences with the disciplines that we promote.”

The festival came at a time when many Brussels artists were only just beginning to re-enter public spaces after a year of coronavirus restrictions brought their sector to a standstill.

In January, Belgian artists denounced the unequal treatment which they say the culture sector received during the coronavirus crisis by mounting a show outside the closed gates of the Royal Theatre of the Mint in Brussels.

Now, restrictions have been lifted enough to allow for small performances and gatherings in places that had been entirely shut down for in many cases over a year.

The Hands Up festival was a way to celebrate this slow return to normalcy by reintroducing (or in some cases, introducing for the first time) artists and audiences to one another.

“This event featured every kind of discipline that you can see in the urban culture,” Katako explained.

“It was painters, graffiti artists, photo artists, and all kinds of illustrators coming together for the exposition. There was also a film screening, and dance, music, singing and fashion design.”

They came together at the Beursschouwburg arts centre over four days for performances and exhibitions, and artists had a chance to promote and sell their work.

“What I saw at the festival was the creation of connections between artists and audiences. That was the most important thing,” said Katako.

“Some artists saw a new audience for the first time. It was a lot of good vibes and connections.”

They’re on the lookout for more opportunities to foster those sort of moments between artists and audiences this summer.

“It was a great success for the event. A lot of people came, and there were a lot of good vibes.”

The festival was part of Brussels Staycation, or StaycationBXL, a series of initiatives designed to help Brussels residents make the most of their summer in the city.

If you missed the festival but are still looking for a dose of urban art, the Beursschouwburg centre has DJ sets at their rooftop bar all summer long, and the Bledarte Collective is currently holding an exhibition.

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