Saint-Vide-Leegbeek as candidate for BRXL2030?

Hello Edgeryders team,
When i see puzzlepieces that could fit, it aches and so i need to share this stream of thought with you.
Some of you know i did some preparation for the Brussels Cultural field to look into a possible candidacy for Brussels as European Capital Of Culture. Long story short: we aren’t ideal candidate if we create a more classical bit on the contest. So for a long time i was searching that edge for Brussels which could give it something interesting to run against smaller but more fit (based on winning bit books from the past 10 years) cities like Charleroi, Leuven or Ghent.

One of the interesting reveals from the preparation dossier was that the cultural field (from high end culture till the socio-cultural organisation) want more implication by/with the whole buttom up / emerging Brussel centered field mixing culture / urbanism / social implications… The other reveal was the fact they rather want a 10 year route towards a collective goal, then a 1 year event year where lots of money is pumped. Quite logical if you want to create a sustainable cultural field.

A couple of weeks ago i took part in the Saint-Vide-Leegbeek announcement, or the day that was announced there was a 20th commune in the city regrouping all the empty space and asking for a more humaine policy.
Interesting evening regrouping people from CLTB, Toestand, 123, Communa,… (and also in the line of tought of our Cultural Squad event

While sitting at the bar last week, talking about Brussels future with a friend, two puzzle pieces clicked. The edge i was looking for BRXL2030 was the absurdity to announce the candidacy as the 20th commune and start a bit from empty spaces and their challenge / opportunity for the city. From their lots of things started to click with the dossier i’m attaching here Rapport de consultation BRXL 2030.pdf (2.9 MB)

While i was having this idea, life goes through strange turns, because i got a message from my old collegues at RABBKO (who worked with me on BRXL2030) to debrief tonight about what lays ahead after a standstill due elections and politics. I think i’m going to pitch this idea and see how it rolls out, the people behind Saind-Vide are already really into it, and i thought sharing it here could be a good place to create a soundboard and see how it could enroll within the edgeryders ecosystem

Have a nice week!


I love it. Very situationists/surrealists. Very Brussels.

@bob, this is completely crazy, but… does it ring any bells? Any wise advice?

@yannick @alberto . I don’t know if you are aware, but I was the Director (called Indendant) of Bruxelles/Brussel 2000, when the city was last European Capital of Culture. Also as @alberto knows, I have been very involved with the ECoC project since it’s inception. I was the Chair of the ECoC jury for 4 years, and have been the adviser to over a dozen cities who have won the Capital of Culture title. I also did a report for the Commission (2005) evaluating 40 ECoCs (called the Palmer Report
(There are two reports - one general; one of case studies).
I have a lot to say about Brussels and the issues that will arise both at the bidding stage and if Brussels wins, as well as about the competition as a whole - and the politics behind it. @yannick I suggest you try and find a copy of our original concept for Bruxelles/Brussel 2000, and the very honest evaluation report I wrote (never published - too honest!), which are probably buried in the archives of La Ville de Bruxelles. You will be surprised how close some of our ideas and themes were to yours now (almost 20 years later) - and the projects we conceived to help realise them, many sabotaged or only partially successful. It was the politics behind the project that was a complete nightmare!
One initial bit of advice for all aspiring ECoCs - if you don’t have the politicians behind you, and formal backing (including financially) of the ‘city’ (in Brussels complicated with the commune structure), and in the case of Belgium - of the two (three) communities - even more complex - you will be lost in my view. That is why cities like Mons or Liege, or Leuven or Ghent have always had the edge - because of their relative simplicity. It took me about 10 years to get over the Bruxelles/Brussel 2000 experience (I lived in the city 1997-2006)!
I quickly glanced over your Rapport de consultation BXL2030. Brought back memories, I sometimes tried to forget. I certainly applaud the ambition and the creative approach to the 20th commune of Saint-Vide-Leegbeek. Great idea! You now have a 1000 hurdles to jump over if the bid is to be credible and deliverable. So, I’m glad you are in training now.
If you think it would be helpful, I’m happy to talk further - possible with a call. I may be in Brussels in July too - but may not have a lot of free time.


I replied to this email as a post. BRXL 2030 - Hmmmmm

Concerning the Creative Bureaucracy Festival and the involvement of ER and UNDP - I give up! I pinged Millie and Mao, and sent each of them, separate emails. Nothing back (predictable)! Don’t know if ER really wants to invest time in positioning itself as a consultant/provocateur in the public service by curating a strand at the festival in Berlin next September. Won’t be paid for this. @noemi had a few good ideas - but seemed to suggest that this would be your call (with our without UNDP). Charles Landry and the sponsor Der Tagesspele wanted confirmation by end of this month - at the latest. Should I just say - not interested? Seems to be more of a strategic decision for you to take.

Thanks Bob for all this information. In the beginning of my research I got my hands on a copy of the rapport through An (directrice of RITCS) it was really insightfull. I also heard about all the internal struggles and problems that occured and was also surprised that ideas and issues from 2000 where still hot topic with the research for 2030.

At the end of my research I’m also dubitatif of the chances of Brussels as an ECoC within the rules that apply now. But what I saw was an urge towards a new city story that started to emerge out of Brussels 2000. The ECoC candidacy could be a lever towards that. But yes the politics make it all really difficult to create a common goal.

Would like if you have time at any moment to discuss this further. Thanks for the information and exchange

Heavens, no! You don’t get into this race to win, we know where that goes. But maybe you get in this race to push some other urban agenda. And Leegbeek’s is a fantastic story. We do need to strategize around it, and consider carefully whether to make the investment.

Disagree. To push an alternative urban agenda that is more than fantasy, taking the opportunity of bidding seriously to develop proposals is an option - and to win. If not, this may certainly be the wrong race.


Sure. Just let me know.

Winning is an option: we both have won before. But keeping a steady course after winning, you taught me, is extremely difficult. Therefore, I would only get behind a bid like that is there was a gain to make which is independent of winning. For example, in Timisoara @noemi has built a stable relationship with the people who stepped away from the ECOC process.

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Yes that’s also a bit of the conclusion I had after doing a tour of other winning cities.
What’s on the négociation table (with the region) at the moment is to create a 10 year program around the position of culture inside the changing city that is Brussels and its challenges that are coming from external forces (like climate change)
But one of the problems (to bit ,but also on an organsational lvl) is the scale of Brussels when compared with middle sized cities that can show a more unison program.

That is where for me extrapolating the challenge toward one form (temporary space) could bring the participation towards an ECoC much more interesting.
You have the possibility to scale back and to tackle the challenges from a specific viewpoint where within the city of Brussels lots of energy is going toward and could create testcase for other similar European cities with vacancy challenges.


Re: Timisoara. @Val.Muresan and have aa lot to say about how you win and end up losing, and what political support can make or break.

While there, the failing of the bidbook is still in progress and entire collectives are trying to cope, I have a feeling there is life after that process. In fact, Val says it great: it is such an opportunity for the community! If only one can calibrate expectations well… For example join the bid, but stay away from the politics and ensure the strategy and contents can somehow exist beyond the political makeover?

For Edgeryders, if I may speak overall since we’ve been working with other cities, a winning strategy could be an alternative grassroots network that is highly agile and international. More resilient? More able to bypass city level dealings should those go wrong? More able to fund city initiatives and international partnerships?


Yes. This is a worthy idea. If only we had someone willing to lead it! :wink:

Yes that’s the direction it “wants” to take for the moment, or maybe better say, the direction i think we should push it. The cultural sector is ready to open it’s arms towards grassroots and buttom up initiatives. creating a meeting point outside of the confort zone could be a more interesting approach then having the grasroots gather at BOZAR for exemple :wink:

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The thing when you’re doing network building with an open ended goal (‘more collaboration, more openness, more sharing etc’) is that it needs enough time to be able to build alignment across different groups, and only then have them move in the same direction together. A lot of the network effects and spillover pay off over time, there is no cookie cutter really. The alternative could be more dissapointment, and filling un underdeveloped approach under failure. So i guess a decision to make would be: how much the City or these cultural development agencies would be willing to invest - politically and financially - over the next 10 years…?

Agreeing on the bigger story is just the first step it seems.