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“Welcome Festival” in Bozar brings together Brussels' international community

13:14 12/05/2014

A weekend of celebrating international diversity in the capital

This weekend was full of celebration of Brussels' communities. There was Zinneke Parade, or the carnival-like Brussels parade that aims to build bridges between different cultures, communities and districts within Brussels. Then there was Iris Day, the annual fest of visits, leisure and concerts to celebrate the region’s 25th birthday. Finally, to round up the weekend, The Bulletin kicked off its 10-day Brussels International Days with a “Welcome Festival” on Sunday May 11th.

Organized by the Brussels Region and The Bulletin, the festival offered Brussels’ ever-growing international community the opportunity to participate in a day-long – and free of charge – programme of information, discovery, entertainment and culture in Bozar, the Art Nouveau jewel in the heart of the city. The Bulletin’s publisher, John Stuyck, was very enthusiastic about the event: “some 52 years ago there were less than 10,000 international residents, now this community represents more than 25% of Brussels’ total population,” he explained. “Brussels International Days event is a symbol of this development. Never before has it been possible to bring together a programme of events that represent the broad diversity of this community,” Mr Stuyck added.

Everything you need to know to better understand the city 

The Welcome Festival started with a visit by Jonathan Brenton, the British Ambassador to Belgium. An expat himself, Ambassador Brenton spent the morning touring the stands and learning about the various clubs and associations serving Brussels’ international community. These clubs ranged from the American Theatre Company and British & Commonwealth Women’s Club of Brussels, to the People to People and Brussels Bookswappers associations. Those seeking new spiritual connections with the city could visit the European Jewish Community Centre or All Lutheran Church of Brussels booths.

The morning inauguration was followed by an afternoon programme of free music concerts and artistic Master classes. The angelic yet powerful sounds of the prestigious orchestra and choirs of the International School of Brussels (ISB) and the Brussels International Choir filled Bozar’s Henry Le Boeuf Concert Hall. Meanwhile, the paintings and sculptures of students aged 3 to 18 years were on display in ISB’s Visual Arts exposition. Expressive, thoughtful and beyond their years, one would never guess that these works of art (pictured) were crafted by primary and high school students.

To help engage the international community with these works of art, ISB’s Anthony Gow and Sandra Verkaart also held art Master classes on Sunday afternoon. “Our hope is to immerse the audience with an activity where they can express themselves amongst a representation of ISB artworks and consequently become part of that experience, both visually and pedagogically,” said Anthony. There was a photography workshop, where participants used themselves, minimal props and light to “create engaging compositions that might implicitly tells us something about the artist.”

In the second workshop, participants learned to set artwork in motion by creating stop-motion animations within the ISB exhibition.

Coming up
Missed out on the Welcome Festival Sunday? Lucky for you, the kick-off festivities in Bozar were just the beginning of the 10-day programme. Future Brussels International Days events include the European Business and Association Summits, “The Best Kept Secrets of the City” Brussels walk, the ‘Brussels meets Europe’ lunch on the UK referendum (organised by the British Chamber of Commerce) and, last but not least, the closing @Seven Greek Presidency Party.

To get the full scoop and register for free, click here.


Written by Kelly Hendricks