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That’s the ticket! Check out culture in Brussels with agenda.brussels
In search of something to do and see in Brussels? It’s now easier and cheaper to find out what’s happening in the city thanks to the launch of Visitbrussels’ revamped website agenda.brussels. It also links to last-minute ticketing system Arsène 50 to quickly access cheap seats for plays and shows.
The new modifications are aimed at encouraging people to go out as well as making it easier to book same-day tickets, says Guy de Bellefroid, Visitbrussels’ Deputy Director Agenda, Arts & Creativity.
Designed to be user-friendly - especially for browsing on mobile phones – almost 25,000 cultural activities a year are encoded by agenda.brussels. “It’s important that there are people behind the site who check and validate the information,” adds de Bellefroid. “There is so much going on, we cannot list it all, so we have to do a bit of curating. The challenge is being exhaustive and attractive at the same time.”
A key part of the make-over has been simplifying reservations at Arsène 50. An offshoot of agenda.brussels, it offers last-minute, half-price tickets for performances, concerts, movies and exhibitions for the same day. The focus is on accessibility, choice, price, spontaneity and discovering new things
“Two clicks and tickets are booked,” points out de Bellefroid. “More tickets have been sold since we put the system in place, and as the site was launched around 14 years ago, it’s important to attract a younger audience. It’s working well, we’re really happy.”
With so many more events on, how has the cultural scene changed in Brussels over the years? “We have a global view and what’s quite amusing is that it has become much more difficult to categorise. Is it theatre, dance, performance, contemporary art? There’s a real mix of genres,” says de Bellefroid, who credits the increase of private enterprises like Museum Night Fever for enlivening the city.
Audiences have equally evolved. “Brussels is a cosmopolitan city and we’ve adapted accordingly, targetting more international audiences. It’s sufficient to look at bigger theatres, such as the National and Kaaitheater, who are now much more accessible and are no longer drawing either francophone or Dutch-speaking audiences.”
The rise in subtitling and performances without words means there is less preoccupation about labelling performances according to language, says de Bellefroid. Brussels’ geographic and linguistic position as a cultural crossroads also gives it a unique identity. “What’s interesting is the number of artists who have made Brussels their home. It’s a good place for connecting with people, which is very positive for the city,” he adds.
If de Bellefroid has a message for residents and visitors, it’s to expand cultural horizons beyond comfort zones. “One of the aims of Arsène 50 is to enable people to take risks; tickets are not expensive so it’s an opportunity to try something else and to explore. That’s the message of our slogan: ‘The agenda inspires going out’.”
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