Can you describe what you do?
I have a daily job in Leuven’s hospital – but in my spare time I’m also active in the local cultural scene. As chairman of local radio station Scorpio and co-founder of Vloer1 – a soon-to-be musical centre for amateur musicians – I often find myself brainstorming, discussing options and working on concepts all in the name of contributing to Leuven’s cultural scene. I would say that music and writing are my main passions, but I guess I have a weak spot for the arts in general.
There’s a lot of talk happening in and around the city; and in my opinion, that’s what happens when changes are occurring. It can only be seen as a positive sign, because progression is key.
How do you perceive Leuven?
Leuven could be perceived as a student city, but honestly I think it’s a lot more than that. If you include its peripheries, where many spend time away from the city-centre, Leuven is a breeding ground for artsy and culturally-minded folks. At the moment, I think Leuven’s going through a transitional phase, with people trying to change things for the better – even if it’s not always appreciated by everyone. There’s a lot of talk happening in and around the city; and in my opinion, that’s what happens when changes are occurring. It can only be seen as a positive sign, because progression is key. The City is investing a lot in its environment and ecology right now, but I also feel a new vibe within the cultural scene. New and enthusiastic organisations are receiving more and more opportunities to leave their marks behind, spread music and art throughout Leuven, and define the (multi-)cultural landscape.
What would you say is Leuven’s main appeal as a city? What gives it its edge?
At the risk of giving a cliché answer: the fact that Leuven is such a small city. Its inhabitants feel as if they know everyone, every place – which can also be a frightening thought – while for tourists it’s so easy to be immersed in everything this city has to offer. From its architecture, to the hipster bars popping up like mushrooms, the city is alive and has a lot to offer for both insiders and outsiders – but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
How has Leuven contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?
I guess it triggered me into trying my hand at entrepreneurship. There are plenty of activities from different organisations on offer throughout the year, which encouraged me to take a more active part in the scene myself. Under the guidance of local experts like mijnLeuven, I was able to sharpen my organisational skills, as well as build a network of driven and inspiring people to help me along the way. It’s not always been easy, though. Sometimes opportunities are scarce, or ideas don’t work out the way you’d hoped. You’ve got to know the right people to really kickstart your career – but once you’re launched, the acceleration is exponential.
A family-friendly city? A student city? A lively community of multicultural people? It would be great to understand what the official vision and understanding for Leuven actually is.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city? What could it do better?
The most discussed issue in Leuven is its empty spaces: many buildings and open spaces are currently unoccupied. I know some steps have already been taken, but I still scratch my head whenever I see the multitude of wasted or ignored possibilities. Perhaps collaborative efforts with the University could offer a solution? I don’t think this is necessarily due to a lack of interest from the City, but rather the lack of a broader vision. A family-friendly city? A student city? A lively community of multicultural people? Granted, I fail to grasp what’s being discussed and agreed upon behind the scenes or what it’s actually like to govern a city, so perhaps I don’t have such a leg to stand on – but still, it would be great to understand what the official vision and understanding for Leuven actually is.
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Leuven?
That’s a pretty unfair question…! Sure, you have your typical hotspots like the Town Hall, St. Peter’s Church and other architectural highlights – but if it were up to me, I’d prefer to look towards more “underground” events like Fabrik in De Smidse, or arts festival Ithaka hosted in the University’s Luxembourg College. For a night out, the only place to be in my humble opinion is STUK!radioscorpio.be vloer1.be