Paul Dujardin, director of the Brussels Centre for Fine Arts Bozar, has been removed his position and given other responsibilities, De Tijd reports.
Dujardin has been director of Bozar for 18 years, being first appointed in 2002. The law was changed to allow him a third term in 2014, and that term should have ended in 2019.
However there was only a caretaker government in 2019, and he remained in place until a government with full powers could take office, which only happened in November last year.
But Dujardin’s record at the head of the centre has been less than stellar. Staff did not appreciate a management style they described as ‘autocratic,’ and they passed a motion of no confidence in their boss on two separate occasions.
Finally, he lost even the begrudging support of Sophie Wilmès, who besides being Belgium’s foreign minister also has the portfolio of the national cultural institutions, which include Bozar, the Monnaie and the National Orchestra.
Yesterday, the Bozar board of directors agreed he would no longer carry out the duties of director while a new applicant is found. He will however remain in the institution, in charge of relations with other European arts institutions, which was an area in which he did admittedly record progress. He will also coordinate preparations for the Bozar centenary in 2022.
Wilmès, in the meantime, will start a new search for a replacement for the contested CEO, but she needs a government agreement to do so. The question was on the agenda for the government’s meeting yesterday, but failed to make it to the table because of the Consultative Committee deliberations.
Where she will start to look is anyone’s guess. There was already a procedure under way, that had attracted three interested parties.
One was Dujardin himself; another was Amsterdam Concertgebouw administrator Jan Raes, who pulled out when offered a post as director of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen.
The other applicant and favourite of Wilmès, Christian Longchamps, was opposed by the socialist union active in Bozar, and Wilmès decided to start the whole procedure over.