Updated: Jun 20, 2021
On the 24th of April 2021, it has been decided by the Belgian Federal Government that indoor cultural venues were still not allowed to open to the public. After closing schools (but not shops) for three weeks, the number of COVID cases has slightly decreased but not sufficiently according to the Interior Minister.
The cultural sector and the cultural federations had, however, worked on an unprecedented level of unity to issue a clear and safe reopening plan. We all thought that our voices were heard during the preliminary hearings at the Chamber. The 24th of April’s decision appeared therefore as a hard blow for the sector. We still have no concrete perspective.
From the 8th May on: outdoor events will be allowed for up to 50 people.
In May and June: 30 so-called « test events » will be held to see what the indoor risks would be. (Totally oblivious of the existing studies).
Nothing is said about a future indoor reopening.
The culture just won a legal battle, however. The constitutional court ruled in favour of a guitar player who had given a concert (last March) in a church for 15 people and had been fined by the police. The court judged that the repressive rules regarding COVID were non-constitutional because they were decided upon ministerial decree without the advice of the Parliament. This sets a very important precedent.
Upac-T: action and justice
Upac-T (Union des professionnels des arts et de la création - pôle travellers) which counts the Union des Artistes (UAS) among its sitting members, decided to take legal action against the government.
The main legal angle will be to argue that the cultural lock-down constitutes discrimination between different sectors (FYI Churches, Shops, etc.).
Still standing for Culture
In parallel to the legal action, the collective #STILL STANDING FOR CULTURE launched a huge disobedience action throughout the country. 130 cultural venues will start to reopen despite the government's decision. The police forces reacted differently to these openings. Most of the time they prevented the audience from entering the venue and started fining people. Some events were held without restriction (maybe because they didn’t have enough policemen and women available?). This sends a very strong and invigorating message to the sector but also the public.
Bezet la Monnaie
Another collective is born a few weeks ago: Bezet la Monnaie Occupée
It is a young collective initiated mainly by students. They have been occupying the National Opera House la Money in Brussels for almost a month. Every day at 5 pm they present small artistic performances and political speeches. They try to gather not only the cultural sector but all the public services. As they don’t interact directly with the political world, they can take a more radical position. They debate together as to how to rethink the whole socio-and-political system.