De Republiek: the roundabout in the creative and cultural heart of Bruges
By spring 2018 De Republiek will have resurrected into the perfect place for creativity and cultural gatherings in the center of Bruges. Coordinator Bart Geernaert convinced me of that speaking a clear vision. He started by telling me about the history of this place and how De Republiek was built in 1580 and how it was initially used as a butter house.
Since 1830, the property has had a cultural function and over the years, it was converted into all sorts of things by almost everyone at their own discretion and ability, never changing the cultural meaning of the place however.
Since 1830, De Republiek has been a concert hall, a theater, a music club (Cactus), a movie theatre (Cinema Lumiere) and a cultural center. It has always been present in the heart of this amazing town.
Nowadays it is a cultural house harboring organizations and co-workingspaces covering aspects such as heritage, film, entrepreneurism, public debate, … with a bar and restaurant in the center of the building. Working closely with 'Cinema Lumiere' De Republiek wants to become the perfect place for gatherings of innovative minds transforming this part of Bruges in to one big creative neighborhood. What are the first steps to create that goal?
Turbo is a project with European support, stimulating entrepreneurship among young creative people. Based on the idea of inspiring people to develop their own ideas, Turbo organises inspirational talks and network events and provides opportunities and spaces for young starters to grow. One of these spaces is named 'The Box', which is a building trade, a place where business ideas can be put to the test with low risk of losing money. 'Handmade in Bruges' is another entrepreneurial input that resolutely chooses to support innovation within the crafts and stimulates co-creation to position Bruges makers creating a creative and friendly environment for craft entrepreneurs. Turbo, The Box and Handmade in Brugge are part of the 'De Makers Republiek'. What is not to love about this project?
City Cinema Lumière is the cinephile engine of De Republiek and has been a valuable partner in the building for over 20 years. Lumière operates four cinema halls programming film for visitors in Bruges as well as hosting the educational offer of fellow movie organizations and several film festivals.
Bart concludes by saying that the café itself can also transform in different spatial possibilities for all kinds of meetings and presentations. That is why they will also continue to work on the presentation and consumption of cultural debates, as well as book presentations, film reviews, concerts, and exhibitions, in cooperation with other partners in the creative quarter. De Republiek will function as a hub, as a crossroad, the roundabout in the creative and cultural heart of Bruges.