Art is a product of its time. It reacts to its needs, challenges and requirements.
nuitblanche is carried along by these fluctuations. The full scale event that set a Brussels neighbourhood ablaze until the early hours of the morning felt very unique. But it left its residents with a desire to weave an even greater intimacy. In light of this, it was only fair to reconsider the goal of nuitblanche. So, in 2022, why and for whom should nuitblanche take place?
“We came up with the idea of a more intimate event that would give pride of place to social interaction. A meeting where the citizens of this city could take hold of the creative process, become part of it”, explains the Alderwoman of Culture of the City of Brussels.
It is on this basis that nuitblanche is becoming Art+People. The date will stay the same and City’s skilled departments will still have the same involvement, but the people will play a greater role. All the people. Not just art enthusiasts, but ordinary residents too. It highlights the more marginalised or little-known districts of Brussels City. It showcases the intangible heritage of a capital city where some 180 nationalities live side by side. The event will now be held biennially to allow time for the creations to take shape and for the residents to take ownership of the project.
At the heart of this new concept is the Lab component of the Art+People event, which is traditionally held on the first Saturday in October. The Lab serves as the experimental phase. It began ahead of time and helped establish the projects. Art+People is the result of this participatory artistic project. This new timeline made it possible to show the different stages of creation, to encourage encounters, create solid links, and to address themes near to the hearts of the people of Brussels.
For its first edition, the artists and the organisational team set off in exploration of the Senne district, its inhabitants, its associations, its shops and its emblematic locations: starting with the five blocks (Rempart des Moines), the historic social housing complex built in the 1960s that is currently in the midst of a vast rehabilitation project, to the now peaceful Place de Ninove, recently redeveloped around its linden trees and Magritte fountain; passing by the bucolic Place du Jardin aux Fleurs, the unmissable basketball court at Place du Nouveau Marché, another future subject of urban transformations, up to the Parc Fontainas the district’s only remaining green space, now larger than it used to be, which has always been synonymous with the surrounding football-playing culture. In the midst of an overhaul, this less touristy district of Brussels is as much marked by historical usage as by major upheavals, and this is exactly what we sought to highlight in our programme.
The second edition of Art+People will take place over the first weekend of October 2024 and will now last three days. The team has already started work in Marolles, an emblematic district of Brussels which currently falls under a Sustainable Neighbourhood Contract and whose hidden gems and treasures are to be found further afield than simply at the Place du Jeu de Balle.