Press release 25.02.14

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I. INTRODUCTION During the last 6 months, STUK has worked hard to radically rethink its working. From the very start, the city of Leuven and cultural centre 30CC were involved in these new plans, together with the other cultural actors of Leuven. STUK wants to thank all the partners for their constructive attitude during this process. For a full understanding, this text should be read together with 30CC’s press release. During a joint press conference, 30CC’s artistic coordinator Koen Adams announced the cultural centre’s important engagements for word in general and theatre in particular. Denise Vandevoort, Leuven’s Alderman for culture, focuses on rethinking Leuven’s cultural space and illustrates the extensive complementarity of the city’s cultural organizations. At the base of this new artistic direction are three context analyses, summarized here to give the background for STUK’s reformation

II. CONTEXT OF LEUVEN, THE ARTS CENTRES AND THE DANCE FIELD In recent years, Leuven has welcomed a lot of new cultural actors (Museum M, Het Depot, OPEK), all of which do an excellent job in the fields of visual arts, music, performing arts and education. Then there’s cultural centre 30CC, more active and ambitious than ever, especially in the fields of theatre, literature, jazz, classical music and world music. In a couple of years, there will also be a new art house cinema on Vesaliusstraat, exploited by Fonk. STUK’s cinema, now Cinema ZED, will become their third (and only external) screening room. STUK is very happy with the developments, yet they also challenge us to rethink our own role. How does STUK combine its development-oriented function with its role as large-scale venue with a wide reach? If the other actors occupy the more accessible field, should STUK only engage in explicitly experimental work? And will the experiment not become very vulnerable by isolating it from a large inflow of audience? Isn’t it time for a new division of tasks in Leuven? Meanwhile, the art centres’ well-known model is no longer a unique form. Several city theatres, museums and cultural centres co-produce and present art in different disciplines, organize festivals and have a nice café. Furthermore, arts centres often choose explicitly hybrid work that has no direct link with theatre or dance. And good art today is of course hybrid by definition. When hybrid art tends too much to pure theatre or dance, the arts centres often drop out. Next to that, the flow between workspaces, arts centres, cultural centres and sometimes also museums and city theatres has somewhat stalled, turning arts centres into a closed circuit. Therefore, STUK feels the need for a new model. The dance field in Flanders shows a gap between large-scale work of choreographers known around the world and the exciting and electrifying material from workplaces that is not always ready for a large audience yet. For a lot of dance productions that operate between those two poles, there are few possibilities for presentation outside a handful of cultural centres and the odd arts centre. Moreover, the circuits of cultural centres, arts centres and the youth circuit are segregated. And yet there are lots of new impulses, like a renewed attention for pure dance-oriented work and choreography, a clear link between

dance and visual arts, qualitative actors in children and youth dance, and several makers that bridge the gap between cultural centres and arts centres and thereby add to audience development. But the main conclusion remains: dance’s visibility, dispersion and audience development is problematic.

III. A NEW MISSION FOR STUK Starting from this context analysis, STUK defines its new mission with this baseline: House for dance, image and sound. STUK considers the three fields as equivalent and will also focus on the convergence between the three fields.

III.1 A HOUSE FOR DANCE STUK wants to approach the medium of contemporary dance in all its diversity, with a wide definition and no restrictions based on form. The guideline is ‘innovative quality’. The specific implementation has a wide scope: - Household names are shown in a collaborative project with 30CC, with performances both in 30CC/Schouwburg and in our own Soetezaal. - At the other edge of the spectrum, there is a lot of room for the experimental and innovative (unknown) field in the form of residencies, productions and presentations. - STUK also shows names from dance’s ‘midfield’ (cf. small, but structurally subsidized companies) and creators that work in a more accessible way. - STUK will also incorporate children and youth dance, by creating a dance section for Leuven’s family festival Rode Hond (30CC) and setting up a school project on dance. - STUK also wants to create an educational project on dance, together with (among others) Mooss, the Leuven-based organization that specializes in teaching children, youth and their supervisors about and with art. Two special, structural collaborations: - STUK allies with fABULEUS, the Leuven production house for talented youths in theatre and dance. Together with fABULEUS, we will create a Young Audience Program that will include a double collaboration. (1) STUK co-produces fABULEUS’ dance performances, shows their premieres and reruns, possibly as school performances.1 (2) fABULEUS will become a partner in the Young Audience Program, working as an advisor for that part of the dance program. -

STUK and WISPER join forces. WISPER is a specialized training institution that offers art educational workshops, classes and trainings for adults. The contemporary dance classes of WIPSER Leuven will mostly be held at STUK. In that context, we strive for as much exchange as possible: we will invite students for performances, look for links between STUK’s programme and WIPSER’s courses, present showings in well-equipped venues and work together to create a meeting point for dance.

Together with KU Leuven, we are looking at the possibility of creating a training and study centre on ‘dance, image & sound’. There is a mutual interest, and KU Leuven investigates the possibilities. From all these different points of view, STUK wants to (help) fulfil the need for a house of dance on a Flemish level and become the ‘dance hub’ for the wider Leuven area, together with all partners. STUK wants to approach the medium of dance in all its diversity, connecting different generations and adding to audience development. In the long term, STUK wants to position itself in a constructive way in respect to the new Leuven performing arts site. When that big venue arrives, STUK can take on an important role in the field of dance. From the very start, we look for partnerships for dance in Europe. The inspiration and ambition for this model comes from international dance houses like Dansenshus in Stockholm, Tanzhaus NRW in Düsseldorf, Maison de la Danse in Lyon or Tanzquartier in Vienna. STUK wants to gain its position in this circuit and add to the visibility, distribution and audience development of dance in Flanders. 1

fABULEUS’ theatre program stays at OPEK, as well as a part of their dance auditions and rehearsals.

III.2 A HOUSE FOR IMAGE The image program has two main sections: media art (Artefact) and film. (1) STUK very consciously chose a media art program that aims at development and innovation. Art with a deliberate link with science and technology that either refers to social themes or art-related subjects, always keeping the artist and artwork at the core. That way of working is complementary to museum M’s, offering a lot of new perspectives. In order to expand the target audience internationally, STUK wants to launch calls for long-term lab projects and present an award for work that links art, science and technology. We also work on an exhibition that can travel abroad. At the core of this program, Artefact will become even more important, since the festival’s theme will be extended into a year-round cycle. - In spring, we launch the new theme, giving the curator time for extensive research. With a symposium, research presentation or publication, we try to let the artistic peer group and the scientific peer group meet around the festival’s theme. In the 2015 edition, for instance, we work with the NBIC revolution and its impact on mankind. This would mean we invite scientists from nano-, bio- and information technology and cognitive sciences and link them to professionals in the field of media art. - After summer, we deepen the theme with an exhibit for the interested art audience and a series of lectures and debate nights, linked to a publication. - In February, the cycle culminates with a big international festival on (visual) culture, current affairs and science that unfolds the theme with an exhibition for the general public. The completed research trajectory makes the festival more layered and firmly founds it in the theme. After the festival, a magazine/catalogue will be published. At the moment we are discussing a possible link of Artefact with the group Science and Technology (KU Leuven). We want to involve scientists working ‘on topic’, making use of know-how and production support from that field and, ideally, give guided tours to big groups of students. That way, we connect the creativity of scientists and artists. (2) After opening a new cinema in Leuven, Cinema ZED will continue to show films with a wide art house profile. The cinema at STUK will be the ‘third screening room’ of this new initiative. Fonk vzw will run the entire operation and therefore also program STUK’s films. But within the new plans, STUK wants to make an important added contribution to this wide art house programme. Once or twice a month, we will put together a night of very challenging cinematographic work. STUK will program these nights together with Courtisane and KU Leuven (a.o. the Lieven Gevaert Centre and H.I.W.)

III.3 A HOUSE FOR SOUND The sound program will also focus on two main branches: concerts and listening art. (1) We stick to the current concert program in the experimental and innovative pop and rock field, for two reasons. A pragmatic one - our series of concerts is very important for the dynamic working of STUK and is an accessible discipline – and a substantial one – Leuven needs an ‘off ’ venue next to music centre Het Depot where we present the margins of pop and rock. (2) The new branch of listening art2 will aim at sound as a bodily experience, focusing on the reception of the listeners rather than the carrier of the sound. It is precisely this sensory response that created an interesting link with image and dance. For this innovative branch, we think about new formats and settings for listening, room sonorization, sound installations, audio walks, noise, silence projects and Internet applications. This part of the program is not part of our current budget. We will incorporate it in our plans for the new strategy period.


We use the term ‘listening art’ from the inspiring discussions with Aifoon, with their permission.

IV. CONCLUSION AND POINTS OF ATTENTION In the new arts Act, the term ‘arts centre’ is no longer used. The legislator proposes a new division to structure the arts field. STUK makes use of this reform to restructure its own working. We approach the arts field in a different way and make new connections, in a unique combination of wide and cutting-edge. In this process, several points of attention emerge: - We strive for more excellence in the specific domains of dance, image and sound, excellence that we want to expand on an international level. - Working in three non-lingual fields, we will switch to a consequent bilingual communication in Dutch and English. We point at a striking evolution in the KU Leuven: at this time, around 20% of the estimated 70.000 students and members of staff at KU Leuven do not speak Dutch. Several projections say this group will expand very quickly. STUK wants to anticipate this evolution. - We look for cross connections with KU Leuven, in dance, media art and the expansion of the movie program towards the more experimental field. Together with KU Leuven, but also in our own working, we will create more room for discourse and reflection on the three fields. - These plans are beyond STUK as such and redesign the cultural space in the Leuven area. This can only happen in a local environment characterized by collaborations. It is the explicit aim of STUK and its partners to redistribute a number of tasks and at the same time reconnect everyone and join interests. We look for a balance that allows for benefits on both sides, both at STUK and its colleagues. We think this will lead to long-lasting collaborations. - Co-productions can reach a higher level again. - Communication will be less linear: every field will get a quarterly publication tailored to the specific needs of dance, image and sound and its specific discourse.

V. HOW ABOUT THEATRE? A condition sine qua non for the new plans of STUK is 30CC’s ambition to really focus on theatre. All information on those plans can be found in 30CC’s press release.


Hicham Khalidi vzw Fonk Pieter-Paul Mortier (Courtisane, freelance)


Gilke Vanuytsel to be confirmed

TIMING - - -

New dance programmer starts in August 2014 New working starts in the 2015-2016 season (nothing changes in 2014-2015) Realization of the new working coincides with writing the new policy plan (Sep. ’14 – Sep. ’15)