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Rock the Canal! A history of cultural life in the Canal Area

Couleur Café  - ©Couleur Café - Benjamin Struelens

2014-04-01 – Entitled Rock the Canal! A history of cultural life in the canal area of Brussels, issue 75 of Brussels Studies has just appeared.

Written by Yves Rouyet (ADT-ATO, Faculty of Architecture at the Université Libre de Bruxelles...), it reveals how ‘the canal area in Brussels has been an innovative setting for avant-gardist artistic creation in the area of non-traditional music, contemporary dance, theatre research and multidisciplinary and digital performances’.

The Canal Area’s venues have hosted artists and bands of the calibre of U2, Texas, Oasis, Placebo, Radiohead, Echo & the Bunnymen and Joy Division... to mention just a few of the better-known ones.

This strong cultural presence in this central area of ​​Brussels is due in particular to the fact that ‘Cultural operators have found affordable real estate there due to deindustrialisation and late and relatively slow residential gentrification’.

The study seeks to identify the key stages in the development of alternative culture in the Canal Area within and especially outside recognised and subsidised institutions. Its hypothesis is that ‘the artists and this unique area have had a mutual influence on each other. On the one hand, the area has enhanced artistic creation with its strong characteristics: urbanity, deindustrialisation and cosmopolitanism. On the other hand, the presence of cultural activities has attracted a public which has rarely been there, thus participating in the partial reconstruction of its image.’

The complete study is available free of charge here.