Brussels shuts down all cultural events for 3 weeks

Brussels shuts down all cultural events for 3 weeks


norman lebrecht

October 25, 2020

The Brussels region, where Covid is ‘galloping’ once more according to the authorities, has ordered the cessation of all cultural events from October 26 to November 19 and a ban on gatherings of more than 4 people.

The prohibition includes all cultural centres, theatres, cinemas, museums and galleries.

The head of La Monnaie, Peter De Caluwe, has issued a furious response:

Brussels Region announces total closure of cultural events as part of their emergency measures. Where I can understand the measures taken on the federal level (severe reduction of audiences but allowance to continue our work) who at least have done their homework, these new regulations imposed on our sector are made by the Brussels ‘government’, which has during the whole COVID period proven to be totally incompetent in crisis management. With a proven trackrecord of ’non’ decision or at best ‘too late’ decision, they have acted in a cavalier and amateur way over the last months, have never taken the logical and necessary action and have always been running behind the facts. Now they flex their muscles by overreacting. It is scandalous that this decision was made without ANY concertation or knowledge of the severe measures taken already by the sector which was done so well on the level of the Flemish and francophone communities as well as on federal level or by the prevoyant Mayor of Brussels who has been totally communicative and committed. This decision is no less than strangulation, without us being able to make the regional ‘government ‘ accountable as they have no jurisdiction over us. Please do not hesitate to share your feelings about such incompetence, amateurism and lack of leadership.



  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Great response. Be prepared to see it nowhere in the mainstream media.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The picture shows why social distancing is such a burning problem in Brussels.

  • JR says:

    The nail’s head hit with precision.

  • fred says:

    In general I’m not a fan at all of his artistic choices etc but he is right is his assesment of the incompetent Brussels government and local authority

  • jan neckers says:

    On Flemish public radio the head of De Munt was even more outspoken. According to him Brussels authorities (mostly French speaking) initially enjoyed the problems in Antwerp and the struggles of the city and the Flemish government and thought Brussels less vulnerable. (A lot of problems were caused by the big muslim population in Antwerp which initially refused to comply with measures). Brussels region consists of 19 independent townships (each of them with mayor and aldermen; 19 police departments; 19 whatever you can imagine so that clientelism can play its full role). The regions’ government is often powerless confronted with local barons and as the muslim population is even bigger than in Antwerp, Brussels authorities refused to make life difficult for their muslim voters. The results of “laissez-faire” ended in disaster and led to an overreaction. According to De Caluwé (granted he is a Dutch speaking Fleming) this wouldn’t have happened if Brussels had imediately followed the Flemish example of a less strict lockdown.

    • Madeleine Richardson says:

      Yes and Liege is even in a worse condition with hospitals asking German hospitals to take patients.

      The Antwerp restrictions actually ended sooner than I would have expected.

    • Maria says:

      Yes, and it is the capital city as well. But the population of the whole of Belgium at about 11 million and is only about 1.5 million more than the population of city of London. The virus in Belgium is very bad and, yes, asking Germany to take very sick patients. Brussels is not a big city.

  • Justin Hoplite says:

    This image is from a long neglected ballet by Rhadames Picolina, titled “In case of a pandemic, take off your mask and get in a puppy pile.” The instrumentation is panpipe, viola da gamba and Wagner tuba.

  • Madeleine Richardson says:

    Tell me about it – my ticket for Die Tote Stadt fell into the water.

    Ah well museums in Antwerp are still open – up to now and I did see a fabulous virtual exhibition on Van Gogh last Sunday.

  • papageno says:

    I’m confident Brussels will sprout again.

  • yujafan says:

    Oh Belgium, how I feel for you – Brussels, Liege, et al – in time you will recover I hope and trust.