Can larger cultural spaces help to save “homeless” artists?

As the Covid-19 pandemic has drastically altered our ordinary way of life, a proliferation of wartime metaphors have poured forth from politicians and the media alike.


We must stand strong with the front-line heroes fighting the enemy, etc. etc. BOZAR CEO and Artistic Director Paul Dujardin hopes that the European culture sector may draw upon this notion of solidarity to help artists suffering due to quarantine measures imposed to slow the pandemic. 


Dujardin makes reference to a Decree-Law passed in Belgium on December 21, 1945, authorising the government to force landlords to provide shelter for those made homeless during the Second World War. With cultural institutions looking like they may be able to start reopening in a few months’ time, could a voluntary scheme similar to the Belgian law allow larger performing arts institutions to share their auditoriums with colleagues who cannot yet reopen their smaller venues due to social distancing restrictions? BOZAR’s Henry Le Boeuf Hall, for example, could still safely accommodate 1,000 at half-capacity, representing an enormous audience for performing artists to play to, far larger than most theatre companies could fit into their own halls.


“But the idea is not meant for the big cultural institutions to benefit financially,” explains Dujardin. “Our colleagues who receive structural subsidies, who are managing to hang on, and who have furloughed their staff, still have more funds than the smaller players in the cultural sector, who are facing a critical situation”.


Beyond providing a temporary space for “homeless” artists, the BOZAR CEO stresses  the need for governmental measures. EU Commissioners Mariya Gabriel and Thierry Breton have already stated an EU culture support plan is in the works, whilst the European Parliament’s Chair of the Culture and Education Committee Sabine Verheyen said, “Europe must not allow the very things that define it – namely, the rich, lively and productive cultural and creative scene – to disappear,”.


To protect Europe’s culture, media and tourism, something must be done.


Read Paul Dujardin’s full article here.