Until December 2018 we were renting together with a group of 40 artists the 25th floor of the WTC I tower in the Northern Quarter of Brussels. During this period, and while working on the project WTC: A Love Story, we witnessed the manner in which artists are used in a gentrification process. This initiated a reflection on our own position within city development projects. As such we co-initiated the project Permanent.
Permanent is a practice-based research with the aim to develop an infrastructure for permanently affordable workspaces for artists and artworkers in Brussels. By investigating alternative understandings of ownership and by looking into new legal and financial models proposed by cooperatives and other “commoning” initiatives, Permanent wants to develop this much-needed infrastructure for artistic creation in Brussels without contributing to a process of gentrification and profit-driven urban development. The research puts forward the Community Land Trust-model: a social real estate development model in which the land remains collective property of the community and only the actual buildings can be acquired, at a lower price. These buildings can only be resold with limited profit which keeps them affordable in the long run and effectively cancels out financial speculation. The model has already demonstrated its capacity in many different places to include a larger and more diverse group of people in the development of an urban living environment beneficial for all. Permanent therefore also strives for radical solidarity with other groups excluded by speculative urban development schemes. It proposes a building program that complements artistic workspaces with public neighbourhood infrastructure and affordable homes for people with limited means, installing new regimes of solidarity outside of the nuclear family. This way, Permanent aims to contribute in a pro-active and sustainable way to the urban city life in Brussels.
Permanent is a collaboration between Level Five, 431, MAMA, Arp:, Overtoon, Jubilee, That Might Be Right, Louiza and individual artists and artworkers temporarily based in the former Actiris-building at the Place de la Bourse in Brussels, with the support of Community Land Trust Brussels. The core team meets every first Monday of the month at Level Five and is open for everyone who wants to contribute and collaborate.
More information on www.permanentbrussels.org