Brussels group: 'perennial urbanism' and calls for help

Thanks Marina for the photo!

We hosted the 2nd culture Culture event on a Friday afternoon in the park, chilling with lemonade, conversation and extensive notes (duh!) @marina, @Emmanuel, @KatrienR, @manuelpueyo, Camille (from Communa), Sophie (Artist Commons), Alessandra (Chambre AiR), and yours truly. Alessandra was the big surprise, as she had stumbled across us on facebook (!)

Group introductions: some of us are looking to find space, others struggle with the economics of spaces they have, and yet others look at how squatting evolve into temporary occupations ruled by law, and what makes a future of stability. Everyone wants to move from temporary occupation towards ‘perennial urbanism’, in the words of Camille. And like many, people need maps to understand the political access to spaces!

The Case clinic methodology we applied allowed for more in-depth looking at two cases: The Reef 2.0 and Artist Commons future.

Access to spaces: the case of The Reef 2.0 in-the-making. How to go about finding it?

I pitched Edgeryders plans in the near future in Brussels - to scout for a new community co-living and working space for 20 people. The spin is: make it a carbon free space and reinvent urban living. We are preliminary funded to do the preparatory work, and will be announcing it soon.

The advice I got, for which I am very grateful:

  • be prepared to circumvent political stakeholders - as things are in Brussels, the system is very complicated to navigate, and it could take too long; also, it’s unlikely that the city would invest in - it is not a public good, it still belongs to a group of people

  • don’t discount the project as utopian. parts of this idea have been tried before, and chances are you can get a lucky break!

  • talk to churches - they own a bunch of buildings and could be very generous.

  • talk to Le mouvement clanic in Brabant Wallon, founded by a hacker type lawyers (via Sophie); also, Sophie’s sister works with green buildings

Artist Commons - how to build a stronger organisation around 3 community spaces?

They are an alternative to commercial art, residences, institutions. A non-hierarchical, membership based network, with 3 different spaces in Brussels and therefore 3 different models. The main challenges are two:

  1. Make the economics work to be able to cover the monthly rent.Administration and coordination is not the artists’ thing (btw this we also learned in culture Culture Berlin).

  2. Get members to contribute more, make their projects into Artist Commons projects, and viceversa

The main feedback/ advice was:

  • a LOT of work has been done with incredibly little, thanks to a few dedicated people
  • have clear instructions (like a wiki) so that everyone knows exactly what to expect. Offer special memberships etc.
  • you need to decide who wants to build an organisation and make a focused team with a strategic plan and some investment (of time). Partnerships with institutions or longer term funders are not necessarily compromising your ethics.

What happens next and how you can get involved now, if you’re reading this:

  • we are organising culture Culture Brussels #3 in September. Do you wish to help me organise it? Please leave a reply below.

  • Artist Commons would need ideas and support for writing funding proposals. It was recommended to get in touch with Les comptoirs de ressources creatives. Who can help with that?

  • Edgeryders is looking to recruit a local partnership builder for The Reef 2.0. Soon to be announced. Contact if you’re interested or know people who would be keen.


great. i thought maybe Frederik Serroen can be your man to deal with Brussels bureaucratic complexity. i can try to get in touch with him for the next meeting

1 Like

Super, thanks. Can you put me in touch with him, an email intro perhaps?

@Emmanuel @camtesta hope I didn’t left anything out. Do you see any actionable points for you in the near future? Any steps we could be taking together to make them happen?

On my end, I’d like to invite Community Land Trust to tell us more about how we could make the transition from temporary to buying together. Just parking here the idea for now…

So, @camtesta is organizing a visit on the 19th of July of Artist Commons with Communa and Plateu Urbain from Paris. We will be doing a tour of our space in the Center and having a discussion/ exchange regarding problematics like ours in precarious art/culture centered organizations.

I am still trying to figure out what the next step will be since we are still simply discussing our issues. There is some engagement work to do within artist commons, and next week on the 17th I will have my first workshop with artist commons members to put some of their projects on the table and see how they can collaborate with a - C.

For the moment, there are a few action points to do on the back of the house in artist commons. I will bring an update soon, maybe then there will be other things we can work on together to fulfill them. =)

1 Like

It sounds good, and glad you connected further.
Let’s then agree to keep the doors open on all sides, and if and when there’s news we get in touch with each other!

Good summer read: a story by Actors of Urban Change on collaborative spaces for transformation.

1 Like