Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President, Cécile Jodogne, State Secretary responsible for Foreign Trade and Rachid Madrane, Minister for the French-speaking Community responsible for the Promotion of Brussels, participated in these Brussels Days. Some 75 representatives of businesses and organisations in Brussels accompanied them, thereby ensuring the multifaceted promotion of our Region.
The cooperation agreement, signed in 1992, was the first of its kind concluded by the young Brussels Region and, similarly, for the ‘new Berlin’ born from the reunification of East and West. It was therefore in a truly festive ambiance that the Brussels delegation was welcomed on its evening arrival by the management of Tegel airport and by the Ambasssador of Belgium to Berlin, Ghislain D’hoop.
Monday started directly with a breakfast aimed at showcasing Brussels’ appeal to an audience of German investors. The programme continued with a working meeting at the Department of Housing and Urban Development of the City of Berlin. Brussels International had invited Arlette Verkruyssen and Peter Verhaeghe, Director-General and Director of Bruxelles Logement, and also Philippe Piéreuse, Director of Urban Development at Bruxelles Urbanisme et Patrimoine. All three had the opportunity to conduct an expert discussion on various themes with their German counterparts. The plan is to organise a larger-scale conference in Brussels in 2018 for both regions on these crucial themes, with a view to creating a real ‘city-to-city dialogue’. The meeting was opened by Minister-President Rudi Vervoort and the Berlin Senator Katrin Lompscher, who gave their full support to the initiative.
A short walk through the urban renovation project of Humboldt Forum offered an interlude before the bilateral conversation with the Mayor of Berlin, Michaël Mueller. He took a particularly positive stance vis-à-vis this ‘city-to-city dialogue’. He also welcomed initiatives to establish contacts between young people in the two cities, through art and entrepreneurship projects.
A foretaste of these youth-centred projects was offered at a preview evening during the Atrium ‘Taste Brussels’ and MAD Brussels ‘Creativity – Berlin, A Romance’ seminars, and also later at the opening of the Brussels contemporary art exhibition ‘Gemischte Gefühle’ (Mixed Feelings) in the old Tempelhof airport. Six young Brussels artists of diverse origins presented their work here alongside a number of well-known Belgian artists such as James Ensor and Marcel Broodthaers. The exhibition was a great success and was extended until 9 November. Next year, artists from Berlin will in turn be invited to exhibit their works in Brussels.
The third day was spent on various seminars and workshops relating to tourism, virtual reality, cinema and the media, tax shelter (a fiscal support tool for the production of cinema and television) and audio-visual co-productions, alongside a visit to the Berlin gallery Künstlerhaus Bethanien, which welcomes 25 resident artists from all over the world and exhibits their projects. The Brussels political representatives were particularly won over by this initiative, which has been running for 42 years, and will certainly draw inspiration from it for their preparations for the opening of our own contemporary art project, Kanal.
The day ended with the major closing celebration for the Brussels Days, at the Berlin City Hall. The guests enjoyed Brussels specialities while listening to jazz and watched a performance of the Folies bourgeoises show. These festivities made the City Hall unrecognisable for the Berliners present! Minister-President Rudi Vervoort and Mayor Michaël Mueller expressed their admiration for each other’s cities and their hope that the projects already launched would continue.
On the fourth day, political representatives and businesses in the audio-visual sector paid a visit to the Babelsberg studios, the Hollywood of Berlin, to identify possible opportunities for cooperation.