PICNIC – SHARING PUBLIC SPACE
A concept of AUB.SVP and Beursschouwburg
“Everywhere, we read that the new car-free zone in downtown Brussels is having an adverse effect on trade. Nobody seems to consider the benefits of such a measure for the public space. About time to change that!" Said Joris Lens, architect and manager of restaurant AUB.SVP. "We do this by creating a 'picnic hotspot’ in Beursschouwburg."From 8 June to the end of September, AUB SVP and Beursschouwburg provide the Brussels residents with of an ecological and culinary picnic bag. "We encourage people to get out there and claim parks, squares, benches and streets!”
Joris Lens continues: "Since the 18th century, after the French Revolution, Royal parks have been opened to the public. Having picnics suddenly became a popular pastime among city dwellers "A similar phenomenon is now occurring in the centre of Brussels. City space that was previously occupied by traffic, is now suddenly available to the public thanks to pedestrianized zones. Tom Bonte, Director of Beursschouwburg, adds: "It is unfortunate that the pedestrianized area is currently being put in a bad light. Surely each modern city is entitled to breathing space. Previously, the Brussels Grand Place used to be one large parking lot. Making it car free was a very positive development."
The story is not limited to the pedestrianized zone. The initiative aims to promote Brussels and its public areas. "The many roadworks and terrorist attacks have not done the image of Brussels any good. But we cannot let anxiety prevail," says Joris Lens. "We hope that people will flock to Brussels in silent protest against the terrorist attacks. There are many gems in the centre of Brussels which we would like to introduce to residents, commuters and tourists alike. We want to invite people to come out of their shells and discover Brussels. We do this by printing a map of Brussels on our picnic napkins that are full of special insider locations."
One of those special insider locations will be the roof terrace of the Beursschouwburg. Tom Bonte, Director of Beursschouwburg, commented: "With the festival Out Loud! (8 June to 10 July), Beursschouwburg traditionally celebrates the end of a very busy season. We invite everyone out on the roof terrace with adjacent bar and silver room for a whole month. In the evenings, we screen music films (theme this year: the 90s) and we dance to live music - a mix of big names, local talent and young wolves. In the afternoons, we open our doors for picnic lunches. It is an annual event which a lot of locals await with eager anticipation. This year, we are very pleased with additional initiatives in the context of Out Loud! We will be screening the football matches of the European Championship and there is the collaboration with AUB SVP to look forward to.
Chef Mathias Dircx further explains the Picnic concept: "At AUB SVP, we constantly look into responsible, sustainable food options. We experiment with seasonal, local and organic produce and by-catch. Food surpluses are creatively incorporated and we respond to the increasing demand for vegetarian/vegan meals. We will apply the same philosophy to our Picnic pop-up". Joris Lens adds "Moreover, we want to use this pop-up to raise awareness around waste. Our packaging will be biodegradable and we encourage people to recycle their waste. In fact, those who bring along their own (empty) lunch boxes or picnic baskets will get a discount from us!
From June 8, AUB-SVP will be joining forces with Beursschouwburg to create a picnic hotspot called 'Picnic. Sharing public space’. Until the end of September, AUB-SVP will move into the Great Hall on the ground floor of Beursschouwburg. Tom Bonte: "Where traditionally, Beursschouwburg closes its doors during the summer months, this year, we are pleased that we can open the doors for the picnic of AUB-SVP, who will be helping out during the opening weekend of the new programme focus 'Come Together' on 16, 17 and 18th September. "Come Together" will be an artistic programme about bringing people together, collaboration and collective art experience. Bringing people together is in the heart of the operation of an establishment like Beursschouwburg. Eating together in a shared public space (with the pedestrianized zone right in front of us as the most obvious option) is a natural extension. We at Beursschouwburg have always been happy to work with partners outside the cultural and social sphere. The choice in favour of a private partner such as AUB SVP, with its focus on sustainability, ecology, use of food surpluses ... is ideologically in line with our way of working. Although we operate in two different worlds, Beursschouwburg in the artistic and AUB-SVP in the culinary, we feel very related in terms of approach and philosophy.”