Many of Belgium’s cultural institutions have taken part in a comical campaign calling on them to transform into football clubs to escape the tough restrictions placed on them by provincial governor Cathy Berx (CD&V).
In her police ordinance announced last week, Berx not only introduced a night-time curfew and obligatory mask wearing in public, she also ordered the closure of artistic events, even within the guidelines brought in by the national security council, and even those held outdoors to maximise the numbers who could attend.
In the meantime, cinemas remain open to the public – a fact exploited by cinema chain Kinepolis which immediately programmed films of matches to appease football fans.
“The news that football fans were allowed to support live in the cinemas of Kinepolis went down the wrong way with us,” said Frederik Van den Bril of the Antwerp culture house Onder Stroom.
“Our cultural events were perfectly safe in the open air, but were closed down by order. Why is it then possible for others to crowd into a cinema together?”
The justification offered by Berx for the apparent contradiction was unusual.
“Theatre lovers have a tendency to stay together to discuss the show after a performance,” she said. “That creates a higher risk than with cinema visitors.”
Onder Stroom then had a bright idea: they would metamorphose into a football club in order to be allowed to play. A design team came up with a new logo for the group (photo) while other cultural institutions joined in, among them Bozar, Sportpaleis, Forest National and Botanique – some of whom are not directly affected by the order.
“Onder Stroom is dead, long live football club FC Onder Stroom,” the group posted on Facebook, offering some vocabulary suggestions.
“Don’t any longer say bar, say canteen. Don’t say foyer, say lounge. Don’t say seats, say grandstand. And don’t say discuss, say celebrate the victory.”