Brussels has a strong and extensive cultural life, supported by a solid network. The cultural sector plays a crucial role in promoting multilingualism. Cultural exchanges, for example, make Brussels liveable as a multicultural and multilingual city. That is why the theme of culture and multilingualism was chosen for this year's Multilingualism Day.
The programme, presented by actress and writer Eva Kamanda, included first of all two fascinating panel discussions, on the organisation of the candidacy of Brussels-Molenbeek as European Capital of Culture, 'Brussels 2030', and a debate with several artists, organised in collaboration with BKO-RAB (Brussels Kunstenoverleg-Réseau des Arts à Bruxelles), on bringing art and culture into a multilingual environment.
Public Poet Brussels
During the fourth edition of Multilingualism Day, the 'Public Poet Brussels' project was also launched. This poetry competition is open to all, individuals as well as collectives. By January 2024, the winner would be announced and the Public Poet can take office on 21 March 2024, on World Poetry Day. The logo and a promo clip made by the 'Brussels 2030' organisation (available on the Brussels 2030 website) were unveiled, along with the charter for 'Public Poet Brussels' which was introduced by the co-chairs of the jury, Brigitte Dreyfuss and Hassan Al Hilou.
Minister Sven Gatz, responsible for the Promotion of Multilingualism in Brussels, said: "The project 'Public Poet Brussels' creates the opportunity to share poetry with a wider audience. The main task of the public poet is to present poetry that reflects the city's identity and connects its inhabitants. This can be done through poems inspired by the city's history, culture, nature, architecture or current events. The public poet can also perform at, for example, event openings, commemorations or other special occasions."
Afterwards, attendees were treated to a performance of 'Qui cherche, die vindt' by theatre company Ras El Hanout. On 7 and 8 November, the youngsters of Ras EL Hanout will still perform this play at the KVS, and on 14 November at the community center De Kriekelaar in Schaarbeek.
During this day also, the winners of the Betalky.brussels project call were announced. Prompted by Minister Sven Gatz, the Brussels government approved 12 projects this year as part of the BeTalky.brussels 2023 CULTURE project call. The call for projects was a success: no fewer than 134 files were submitted, 12 of which qualified for a grant.
Memorandum Council for Multilingualism
At the end of the day, Minister Sven Gatz and Philippe Van Parijs, the president of the Council for Multilingualism, looked back on the day's proceedings and but also looked towards the future. Philippe Van Parijs elaborated on the Council's initiative to publish a 'Memorandum' next year in the run-up to the regional, federal and municipal elections, containing some recommendations for future policy on the promotion of multilingualism.
Philippe Van Parijs, President of the Council for Multilingualism, said: "With this Memorandum, the Council for Multilingualism wishes to continue to fully carry its mission: to help shape the policy for the Promotion of Multilingualism, and to do so together with future policymakers by sharing existing expertise and new insights. In doing so, the Council also hopes to put the issue of multilingualism on the agenda in a sustainable way."
At the end of the day's event, Philippe Van Parijs received a gift from Minister Sven Gatz, a cartoon by artist Philippe Geluck, for his work and support regarding the promotion of multilingualism in Brussels.
This year, Multilingualism Day was promoted and preceded by two interesting podcasts. In the first podcast, Eva Kamanda talked to KVS artistic director Michael De Cock and minister Sven Gatz. In the second podcast, the minister talked to theatre maker Salim Haouach (Ras El Hanout).