01 Feb '18

The story of Europe is more relevant than ever

door Ines Minten
After 20 years in the media and nine in the world of publishing, Koen Clement was appointed Director-General of the biennial cultural festival Europalia. The one focused on Indonesia is pretty much over.

‘Fascinating. The main lesson I drew from the festival was how little we really know about a country.’ With Romania set to be the Europalia guest country in 2019, this signals a return to the basic concept: art and culture acting as common bond to allow Europe to become more unified. Once again this will be an enormous challenge but also a fascinating experience.

‘In the late 1990s hordes of wild dogs were reported to be roaming around the streets of Bucharest. It has now become a vibrant city boasting an exciting and dynamic art scene. Sibiu, too, is an example of a city that had managed to reinvent itself through culture.’

After nine years in Amsterdam being immersed once again in the cultural life of Brussels turned out to be a pleasant surprise. ‘We in Brussels do not always realise how blessed we are to have such a wealth of cultural opportunities. Brussels is disorganised and poorly managed but it has an amazingly wide range of cultural activities.’