JetFrom January 2023, vzw Toestand will also house projects in the Sint-Magdalena Abbey in Jette. For now, the organization is still looking for local temporary-use initiatives that meet the needs of the neighborhood. The nonprofit will actually be able to run the site for two years.
“With Toestand vzw, we mainly focus on vacancies in the city,” explains project coordinator Tine Declerck. “We’re always looking for a meaningful explanation from a social perspective. We’re actually working with reverse logic. Empty spaces usually go to people who can put the most out of it on the table. But we’re looking for people or initiatives that don’t have the resources, but can use the space. They can count on us for venue management and our expertise.”
In this way, Toestand vzw offers owners the opportunity to give a new and meaningful function to their vacant premises. Perhaps the most famous initiative of the non-profit association is the Allee Du Kaai on the Brussels Channel, where about thirty organizations are allowed to organize their projects. A new location has been added since June: Sint Magdalena Abbey in Getty. “It’s in the hands of the diocese,” DeLerc says. They could not find any initiatives that wanted to manage the entire building. This is how they came to us.
The organization is currently looking for new projects for temporary use in the new location. For this we look for people or organizations around the monastery, and so we know what the needs are in the area. We focus on projects targeting people in precarious situations, such as homeless people or runaway people. Therefore, the intention is to mix these projects with other social or cultural initiatives. This social mix is very important to us.”
“We don’t want to be just another ‘artist space’ in the city, there are enough places for that,” DeLerke continues. “We will specifically look for projects that are accessible, inclusive, and that focus on the neighborhood. People who love the monastery for commercial purposes, you haven’t come to the right place. We also want to avoid politics.” Since summer, Toestand vzw has been organizing weekly guided tours of the monastery. “In this way, people or organizations from the neighborhood can come and see the possibilities offered by the spaces. In addition, it is also interesting to visit a building that was not previously free to access. We will continue to do such tours.”
Finding a new use for the building is not easy. “The layout of the building determines a lot for the possible activities. In contrast to the Allee Du Kaai, for example, is the lack of large enclosures. The convent has several small rooms. The neighborhood is also different, and all this together forces us to think of new or different ways to use it.” The first projects will start in January. “There’s no deadline yet, but we’re hopeful we can stick around for at least two years,” Delirc concludes.
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