by Nicholas Johnston
Soon in Leuven Editor
The beginning of this March will be punctuated by a nearly week-long interactive arts festival, continuing a decades long history of celebrating the city of Leuven. On Tuesday, March 5th, the Ithaka Arts Festival will begin, featuring a series of workshops, activities, guided tours, and a concert. Located on Brusselsestraat 141, the organizers aim to give life to the currently unoccupied “Monastery of the Brothers of Charity.” Attendance is totally free. So it seems like a fine opportunity for students to view the work of new artists from the area, have a drink, take a tour, and make some discoveries.
Founded in 1993, the Ithaka Arts Festival was originally a city-wide event that lasted for only one day. It sought to bring attention and exposure to up and coming, as well as established regional artists. The exhibitions featured existing visual works as well as installations produced specifically for the festival. As the years passed, new elements and ambitions were introduced, including music and dance, all centered around a yearly theme. Founded with the aim of provoking confrontation between art and spectator, Ithaka Festivals have consistently pressed attendees to tackle timely and topical themes while tying them to the exhibition’s location. Since 2003 they have been holding their exhibitions in abandoned locations in the city, breathing life into dormant monasteries, boarding schools, university institutes, and even swimming pools.
This year, the Klooster van de Broeders van Liefde (translated by Ithaka Festival as Monastery of the Brothers of Charity) on Brusselsestraat shall host the six-day long festivities and activities. Three 18th century buildings compose the monastery, a manor house and two ‘wide-houses.’ Throughout the years, it has been home to religious orders of various stripes, most recently and notably the Belgian ‘Brothers of Charity’ congregation from which it gains its name. Founded by Petrus-Jozef Triest, a former student of Leuven, and a reformer of mental institutions in Belgium, the Brothers of Charity dwelt at the monastery from 1925 until a few years ago, when students too were residents. The Ithaka Arts Festival displays its love of the city and its history by its venue choices, and this years location is certainly no exception.
This year, the Ithaka Arts Festival shall have distinct activities everyday too many to all be listed here, it shall suffice to name a few. Tuesday night brings poetry readings and wine, a presentation by the KU Leuven Green Office on Wednesday, a Jazz Concert on Thursday, and pie for dessert on Sunday he 10th at the close of the festival. However, the exhibition and festival certainly offers more. For a full description of the workshops, activities, and schedule, you can consult their website and program.
An initiative of LOKO, the festival is undoubtedly a work of impressive collaboration. Partnering with the university, the city of Leuven, Stella Artois, Alma, Museum Leuven, and other local businesses and organizations, many hands shall be bringing the monastery and festival to life this March. Thus, with its broad and diverse program, it would be hard to imagine there isn’t something for everyone. So drop by, there’s certainly a discovery or two waiting.
Consult their website here for more info: