Update #14: Read the Brussels2030 Summer Assembly Post Report

The Brussels2030 Summer Assembly is a key pillar in preparation of the Brussels’ candidacy as European Capital of Culture. The first edition was organized at Tour à Plomb from Monday July 4th till Friday July 8th 2022. The one-week event offered a dynamic program with keynotes, co-creation labs, bar talks, site visits, walkshops, film screenings and artistic performances. The aim was to discuss dynamics that shape Brussels today, the cultural practices of tomorrow and the heritage of previous European Capitals of Culture. The ambition was also to test initial ambitions and possible ingredients of the candidacy against a diversity of experiences and expectations.

This report summarizes key findings and questions that emerged during the event. They will be further investigated in the coming months.

The week-long event was prepared building on the following guidelines and objectives:


  • diverse activities, publics, locations 
  • multilingual – inspiring – connecting – activating 
  • not a one-off but a starting-point 
  • cross-pollination of science and arts


  • creating leverage for and reflection about Brussels2030 
  • harvesting inspiration regarding key-topics, actors, activities, locations
  • mobilizing neighborhoods, organizations, dwellers, communities
  • initiate and reinforce co-creation initiatives

Over 800 people participated in the Assembly. Diverse actors were mobilized: Brussels citizens, cultural practitioners, academics, policy makers, artists, creatives and civil society representatives. Together they created an open space, fostering inspiring encounters and dialogues around topics that concern us all: sustainability, new forms of democracy, urban transitions, solidarity and inclusion. Building on these exchanges, the Summer Assembly participants imagined scenarios for preparing desirable urban futures and making Brussels the European Capital of Culture in 2030. 

The Brussels2030 Summer Assembly was organized by Brussels2030, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Université libre de Bruxelles, Brussels University Alliance, Réseau des Arts Bruxelles-Brussels Kunsten Overleg, OpenLab.brussels, Brussels Studies Institute, Brussels Academy, VUB Crosstalks and weKONEKT.brussels.


The candidacy of Brussels as European Capital of Culture is conceptualized as a true urban project. The ambition is not only to become the European Capital of Culture in 2030, but also to remain so after the title year. The project aims to express the creativity characterizing a city in permanent evolution. After a decade of setbacks and crises, this  might be considered a much-needed opportunity to inflate urban renewal. The mission of Brussels2030, in that sense, is to involve a diversity of cultural forces in the transitions that are already shaping Brussels today, and those that are needed in order to work towards a more desirable tomorrow. The guiding principle is to mobilize all sectors and invite all interested actors to work together on transversal projects. Every summer is an opportunity to demonstrate the evolution of the project. The summer of 2022 was a festive and reflective testing ground, with the very first Brussels2030 Summer Assembly as a starter to open the conversation and mobilization around the project to the broader public.


The development of an attractive program for 2030 will build on a collective urban imagination, telling the story of Brussels as a cosmopolitan city across different languages, communities, religions and nationalities. A story about what unites us rather than what is putting us apart: a new we. What practices, narratives and initiatives can inspire such a collective vision and imagination?

A shared imagination should be reflected in the cityscape, its social geography and the collection of urban spaces. The regional development plan links spatial planning to highly-needed ecological and socio-economic transitions. Artistic and cultural practices have a role to play in these processes. How can we anchor them through the development of “future spaces“? How can we shape those spaces together, building on existing infrastructure, needs and expertise?

Brussels2030 aims to be a true urban project, reflecting a way of life that fully embraces Brussels’ diversity. It intends to involve the entire population, especially youth. How can we co-produce the Brussels2030 project, ensuring support but also beneficial outcomes for the Brussels population? How can we share ownership and responsibility? The third thematic pillar tackles the issue of participation, the co-construction and co-creation of a cultural project that intends to positively impact the Brussels inhabitants and environment. 
The Brussels2030 Summer Assembly was organized to discuss these questions. Each day, a key topic was explored through keynotes, panel discussions, cocreation labs, walks and performances:

# 1 Brussels, x-ray of a unique city

# 2 Art and culture as lever for urban development

# 3 Sustainable transitions, the great renovations

# 4 Co-producing the city, mobilizing the population

# 5 Re-imagining Brussels: telling another story

Brussels2030 Summer Assembly – closing reflections summary (credits: Fennabee)



where to land
hoe te landen
où atterrir

The question about what could and should be expected from Brussels becoming the European Capital for Culture in 2030 ran through the diverse conversations and activities that took place during the Summer Assembly. What do we want to accomplish with this event in the short, mid-long and longer term? What impact will the event have on the Brussels inhabitants, its building infrastructures and cultural-artistic practices? What will be the heritage of Brussels2030? Since Brussels is a complex city, characterized by paradoxes and contradictions, the candidacy for Brussels2030 not only needs to be prepared well in advance, it should also build on well-considered choices, weighing potential risks and carefully considering its limitations. During the Summer Assembly, a number of shared expectations and suggestions emerged. They could be summarized as four broad axes that need further exploration in the months to come:

Targeted transformation building on what works

A first consideration expresses the need to carefully map the existing infrastructure, spatial dynamics, artistic practices, cultural organizations and expressions that shape Brussels today and start building the candidacy for Brussels as European Capital of Culture from there. The Brussels2030 project should strengthen what has proven to work and transform what needs to be improved.

Strengthening ties, collaborations and synergies

A second idea that ran through the Summer Assembly, was the need for more cross-sectoral collaboration, guided by transversal ambitions and building on truly inclusive practices. It was emphasized that the Brussels’ diversity must be reflected in a candidacy that mobilizes culture and arts as connecting environments with the aim to strengthen existing ties and preparing new synergies.

Promoting genuine participation

A third topic was the question of how to create the conditions that allow for genuine participation. What methods will be deployed? What are the tools to be mobilized? How to make sure that Brussels citizens, civil society and associations regain trust? How to create a platform that allows both for self-organization as well as risk-taking?

Art and culture as lever for the right to the city

A fourth question – emerging from the three previous ones – concerned whether and how culture and the arts can be used as a lever for the right to the city. How can a cultural project strengthen inclusion? Will it enable all Brussels’ dwellers to contribute to and benefit from urban life?

This report summarizes key findings and questions that emerged during the event. They will be further investigated in the coming months.

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