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120 cultural venues will defy rules and reopen early

Credit: Belga

Despite the current ban on indoor cultural events in place as a result of the global pandemic, 120 cultural venues in Brussels and Wallonia have said they will resume their programming on Friday after six months of closing their doors.

As part of the fifth action organised by the “Still Standing for Culture” collective – “Let’s deconfine culture”-  will defy the ban on opening by offering a wide range of activities between 30 April and 8 May, while respecting health protocols.

“This action is less about civil disobedience but rather about questioning the principles of non-discrimination, democracy, and proportionality of what is imposed,” the organisers said.

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The health situation does not explain why the fate of cultural venues has been systematically evaded for months, the collective argued, nor why new restrictions and conditions for reopening are “pulled out of the government’s hat” when the reopening of cultural venues is finally discussed.

Cultural venues that do decide to reopen will not be deprived of their subsidies, the French-speaking culture minister Bénédicte Linard said last week Friday.

“It is out of the question to withdraw subsidies from cultural operators. They are right to make themselves heard,” Linard said on Bel-RTL when asked if she would sanction those who plan to rebel against the measures.

Last Friday, before the Consultative Committee, some 80 cultural venues had already announced that they would resume their programming without waiting for a green light, and defy the ban on opening.

The National Theatre, the Théâtre de Poche, Le Public, de l’Ancre, the Galeries, Palace, Vendôme and Quai 10 cinemas, as well as numerous Walloon and Brussels cultural centres, will be taking part in the action.

In light of the actions announced, many local authorities have called the participating institutions to order by insisting on the ban on opening, according to Belga News Agency.

In May and June, Belgium will be organising 30 test events, including in the cultural sector, but also for sport events, to assess the risk and control the spread of the coronavirus in the events sector.