Production company De Chinezen, creator of programs such as Ten Oorlog, De Noodcentrale and Radio Gaga, returns to Leuven. This is just one of many concrete changes which show that Leuven is stepping up its game as a city of innovation and creativity.
"Creatives are quite the kind: they don't thrive just about anywhere, especially not in a gray business park surrounded by whole sellers in tiles and mattresses", Elke Neuville of De Chinezen (picture: left) mentions. "That's why we were so picky when it came to finding a definitive spot for De Chinezen. It had to be a place that looks like the Vaartkom in Leuven so the best idea was to go back there."
"Now we're already putting foot in water (pun intended) through our boat 'De Spits' and hopefully soon on land. Not in a shiny office building, but in a rustic silo. One that's large enough to house one or more creative friends to turn it into a place where good ideas are bred, across all sectors."
Leuven is teeming with creative and artistic activities in the most various ways: from PR and communication to performed arts and from architectural design to film. This mix of creative economy, art and culture provides Leuven with its unique and fresh dynamics. "In Leuven, the number of people working in the creative sector is three times higher than the Flemish average", council member for Economy and Real Estate Mohamed Ridouani mentions. "No matter how varied the group is, there's always one question that pops up: the need for affordable physical space. Projects such as Hal 5 or the purchase of the Molens van Orshoven tackle that need."
The city also wants to establish a strong network between the creative sector and other sectors such ad high-tech and health. In that perspective, textile designer Lotte Martens builds out a project concerning the healing power of beauty. "Talent multiplies where people come together. This means that an attractive climate also implies the creation of environments where the chances of spontaneous encounters is big", Ridouani continues.
Leuven MindGate helps to make this happen. "We're organizing SPACE together with Leuven MindGate for the second year in a row. Here, the entire creative sector - from new talent to established names - can meet each other in a unique location", council member for Culture Denise Vandevoort mentions. "This year, the Comenius building will be the backdrop for SPACE, where the International House will soon open."
Next to encounters, SPACE also offers the chance to be discovered. "We're organizing a SPACE Showcase on Saturday October 7th, where new creative talent can introduce themselves to the people of Leuven for free", Vandevoort continues. With over 30 exhibitors registered, the Showcase is already a huge success. "Next to household names such as Lotte Martens or Bram Kerkhofs, many young creative starters will be showing their creations to the people of Leuven. Like Huff & Puff, the five childhood friends who make eco-friendly hankies and collected 15.000 euro through crowdfunding, or graphic designer SKREW."
"The creative scene from Leuven has really contributed to our crowdfunding campaign. Lotte Martens helped us set up some contacts as well which immediately meant a return from the network. The dynamics here are like a rapid current in which you are dragged along", Huff & Puff mentions.
Creativity is of the essence for an innovative and bustling city; which means it should be given every chance to grow. "The feeling that the possibilities in Leuven are endless seems to stimulate a flourishing creative economy. Lots of things are happening in Leuven and it's become much more than the provincial city it once was. There's a vibe here which you would normally expect from cities like Copenhagen and Berlin", Ridouani and Vandevoort conclude.