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HELLO MIXITY: Celebrating diversity in Brussels – welcome to a taster event on 30 September
The outdoor musical party on Mont des Arts provides a sneak preview of next year’s Mixity.brussels 2017 – a programme of events by visit.brussels. In flying the diversity banner, the tourism office honours Brussels’ unique blend of cultures.
Counting 183 nationalities among its growing 1.2m population, Brussels is the second most cosmopolitan city in the world. After Dubai, Brussels is the city with the highest percentage of residents born abroad. More than six in ten were not born in Belgium, according to the World Migration Report 2015. Published by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the report describes Brussels as a city with a highly mobile and international population.
Brussels’ changing multicultural identity is outlined by VUB cultural philosopher Eric Corijn, who says the number of “new Belgians” and foreigners was continuing to rise due to immigration and the influx of international workers to the capital of Europe. Corijn likened Brussels to a Tower of Babel with statistics showing that almost two thirds of the region’s population actively speak more than one language. “Nationality mix characterises the city,” he says. “The major stake is to bring communities together in a new idea of citizenship that puts the city before nationality, uniting in diversity.”
He says expats and immigration have changed Belgium, and what Brussels could become. “Brussels went from being Belgian to an international society.” One in three residents isn’t Belgian. “It’s a small world city: 61% of households are multilingual, 5% Dutch-speaking only and 33% French-speaking only.” So the Flemish and French-speaking communities are minorities in their own capital.
Multiculturalism has long been part of its DNA with residents self-styling themselves Zinnekes, a dialect name for a mongrel dog and reference to the Senne/Zenne canal that flows through the city. HELLO MIXITY , the event taking place on 30 September, reflects this cultural mix with 120 artists representing 20 nationalities and speaking ten languages. Performing on two stages, the musical line-up features Karavan, Marie Warnant, Marka, Ajisai, Boris Motte, Voxtra and Zap Mama, among other artists. A flashmob dance will involve more than 400 children as well as people with disabilities.
Mixity.brussels 2017 reaches out to all communities and generations, promoting religious and sexual freedom and accessibility for people with disabilities. The programme focuses on two types of events, regular features on the cultural calendar such as Couleur Café music festival and Belgian Pride, plus events that have an international appeal, including the opening of the House of European History next to the European Parliament and the re-opening of the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren. Then there are a range of new events created by visit.brussels. These include a project with transport network STIB/MIVB which will see the launch of a MIXITY tram.
For HELLO MIXITY, visit.brussels invites people of all backgrounds and all ages to come together for a party that celebrates multicultural identity. In addition to the music and dance performances, there will be a MIXITY themed cocktail and trucks selling home-made food from around the world.