Despite a deep-rooted collective conviction that Charleroi is one of the world’s ugliest cities, its inhabitants and their many entrepreneurial initiatives attest to the contrary. From creative space to live music venue, we drop in on four venues that are strenghtening the city’s cultural landscape and shaping its future.
All photography by Thomas Ost (c).
6001 is the new 1060
With a nod to Charleroi’s cultural renaissance and the city’s prolific designer scene, 6001 is the new 1060 (1060 being the artist-heavy Brussels district of Saint-Gilles / Sint-Gillis’ area code) offers a platform to young artists and craftsmen who can either exhibit or sell their work at one of two biannual markets, usually hosted at Chez Raoul, a stone’s throw from the lively downtown centre, in an eye-catching, green-painted former car wash. Every market-cum-exhibition edition includes a series of workshops that go from silk-screening to fabric customising, and take in a myriad of stands by local and international designers, publishers, illustrators and jewellers.6001isthenew1060.be
Nestled in the former modernist National Bank building on the Quai de Brabant along the Sambre river, Quai 10 offers a creative space dedicated to visual culture. Boasting four cinema rooms, Quai 10 hosts year-round screenings of independent cinema and documentaries as well as a wide range of workshops, conferences and movie clubs. Alongside cinema, Quai 10 also aims to educate the public about video-games by striving to show ways to integrate these in a pedagogical way into children’s, as well as adult’s, lives. Having recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund its inauguration, Quai 10 is the latest addition to the city’s burgeoning creative scene.
Non-profit cultural space Rockerill set up shop in the abandoned building of Les Forges de la Providence, founded by steel pioneer John Cockerill in 1836, the oldest steel forgery in the city. Unconventional and going somewhat against the grain, Rockerill offers advice as well as a platform to young, local artists, while also organising regular concerts, parties, exhibitions and film screenings, as well as releasing albums of lesser-known, underground musical talents under its own label, Rockerill Records. And, since its opening, the venue has made a name for itself, both in Belgium and abroad, for its steadfast commitment to the underground and its tireless promotion of cutting-edge names of all genres, from garage rock to electro. An essential artery to the city’s cultural heartbeat.
On Charleroi’s left bank, in a former printing house, a brand new cultural brewery is being born. Set to open in February 2017, the ambitious new concept, with a five million euro price tag, has local entrepreneurship and culture running through its veins. Taking the city as a historical example of neo-industrial revelution, the transformed factory building is set to include a micro-brewery, a bakery workshop, a coffee roastery as well as a place where art, music and innovation all mingle. Established abiding to the principles of the sharing economy and local, short-cycle production, Manufacture Urbaine sees itself as a strong symbol of post-carbon industry, reducing its own ecological footprint. Something of a blueprint for the future.