The facade of the
Royal Flemish Theater, KVS (Teatro Real de Flandes) has been displaying a huge sign in Spanish since this morning: ‘Culture is safe’, as part of a joint campaign by several European theaters to demand the opening of cultural spaces.
The campaign is led by the KVS itself and the
National Theater of Catalonia. Its artistic directors, Michael de Cock and Carme Portaceli (appointed last July, will take office in September this year), signed a text in the Belgian newspapers De Standaard and Le Soir (in January they sent an open letter to the European Parliament with the same content spilled in the article) in which they expressed their hope that theater companies from all over Europe can return to work soon. The protocols and expertise to do it safely are already in place.
Along with them, the heads of Belgian theaters sign the campaign Fabrice Murgia (National Theater); Peter De Caluwe (La Monnaie); Milo Rau (NTGent); Serge Rangoni (Théàtre de Liège, Prospero, European Theater Convention); Guy Cassiers / Maud Van de Velde (Theater house), Franceses: Chloe dabert (Comédie de Reims); Wajdi Mouawad (Théâtre National de la Colline, Paris); the Italian Giuliano Barbolini (Emilia Romagne Theater Foundation); el portugués Tiago Rodrigues (National Theater D. Maria II of Lisbon); and spanish Alfredo Sanzol (National Dramatic Center).
“At this point,” says the article by the two directors, “all of us in Europe and the rest of the world are aware of the terrible impact of Covid-19 on our society. We understand the need to protect vulnerable people in our society, and therefore we do everything possible to interact safely. No one in their right mind doubts the measures taken to do so. Let it be clear that this allegation is not at all a request for relaxation of the rules in a way that endangers the health of some of us.
It is a “plea in favor of culture”, they say, and they add that the human being needs “psychological well-being, comfort, connection and beauty”, and they put for example the motto “Culture is safe», Popularized by the sector in Spain, where theaters – significantly especially in Madrid – recovered their activity after the summer and maintained it.
“They are already underway,” says the article. efforts to ensure teams can work and rehearse safely, to guide the flow of visitors and to maintain a safe distance in theaters. The same is true of plans to facilitate safe attendance at cultural performances. We strictly follow all the rules. Meanwhile, we see a huge disparity on the cultural map of Europe. In some countries and cities the theaters are open, in others they are closed, with no prospect. This is quite peculiar. Modern theaters in Brussels are as airy as those in Porto. Crowd management in Paris or Amsterdam is as good as in Barcelona, Madrid or Lisbon.
“Let us never reach a point where the closing of the theaters is ‘normal’,” the two directors demand. No matter how difficult the situation is, we are ready to work. Because the theater is very important. Let’s get back to action. We will take care of the public, as we have always done.