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realtime traveller

 Da Contents H2

July 22 2015
Place: Seoul, South Korea
Traveller: Gail Priest, sound artist

February 4 2015
Place: Bourges, France
Traveller: Gail Priest, sound artist, RT Online Producer

March 26 2014
Place: Split, Croatia
Traveller: Peter Volich, artist

September 4 2013
Place: Linz, Austria – Ars Electronica special
Traveller: Matthew Gardiner, artist, researcher, curator

May 1 2013
place: brussels, belgium
traveller: sophie travers, performing arts producer

January 30 2013
place: glasgow, scotland, united kingdom
traveller: robert walton, director, live artist, lecturer in theatre at vca

November 6 2012
place: auckland, aotearoa, new zealand
traveller: gail priest, sound artist, associate editor realtime

October 23 2012
place: santiago, chile
traveller: tim welfare

September 18 2012
place: munich, germany
traveller: glyn roberts, playwright/producer

July 17 2012
place: detroit
traveller: rebecca conroy, trans-disciplinary thinker maker doer

July 3 2012
place: beijing, people’s republic of china
traveller: dan edwards, writer/journalist

place: yogyakarta
traveller: malcolm smith, artist, arts manager and curator

May 22 2012
place: wroclaw, poland
traveller: janie gibson, actor

May 8 2012
place: beirut, lebanon
traveller: jim denley, musician

place: shanghai, people’s republic of china
traveller: thea baumann, executive producer aphids, director of metaverse makeovers

April 24 2012
place: berlin, germany
traveller: jana perkovic, writer, urbanist

place: hong kong, people’s republic of china
traveller: bec allen, arts producer

March 6 2012
place: barcelona, spain
traveller: jodi rose, sound artist, writer

place: new york, usa
traveller: michaela coventry, dance producer

place: sarajevo, bosnia & herzegovina
traveller: kym vercoe, performer

place: turku, finland
traveller: nigel helyer, artist


Sophie Travers eating moules (mussels) Sophie Travers eating moules (mussels)
courtesy Sophie Travers
reason for travelling

Living in Brussels for 18months as the Project Manager, IETM (International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts) Australia Council Collaboration Project.

that art attraction

It is not for no reason that expatriate artists from around the world gravitate to Brussels. Second only to Berlin for easy living and arts stimulation, Brussels is a mecca for performing arts in particular. The healthy competition between the Flemish and Wallonian communities that share the capital leads to a disproportionate number of arts institutions, festivals and events. The fact that the arts funding system remains relatively generous at a time when large swathes of Europe are going belly-up adds to Brussels’ attractions for international artists, as do the non-discriminatory criteria for who can gain access to funding and benefits.

The geography of Brussels is one of its major strengths, as it sits an easy 90 minutes from Paris on the train, 30 minutes from Lille, two hours from London and Amsterdam and six from Berlin. The confluence of countless European networks with their headquarters in Brussels (not least IETM), creates many opportunities for artist mobility and most of the Belgian presenters are part of schemes that ensure the best international programming finds its way to Brussels sooner or later. Brussels’ laid back, slightly chaotic feel is one of the things that surprised me most and I have greatly enjoyed exploring the multicultural mix of the many neighbourhoods that make up the city. Eating and drinking in Brussels is superb and affordable too. Shame that the skies seem to be grey for ten months of the year.

for culture

Place Eugène Flagey, Brussels Place Eugène Flagey, Brussels
photo Sophie Travers
Brussels is awash with impressive arts institutions and some of the big ones represent the best that Europe can offer. BOZAR, in the city centre, is a multi-faceted space with an enticing gallery offering big artists like Watteau and smaller, commissioned studio activities, often themed around EU projects such as the Francis Bacon exhibit to celebrate the current Irish Presidency of the EU. BOZAR programs contemporary, world and classical music in venues that also host theatre and dance. As is the case with most Belgian arts houses, the offer for families is extraordinary and we have relished the regular Sunday morning programming for kids as well as the themed Family Days.

Kunstenfestivaldesarts is the annual performing arts festival that unites Flemish and French speaking communities and offers cutting-edge work from around the world over two weeks in May. You can buy a pass for 150 Euros and knock yourself out.

ArsMusica is an ambitious contemporary music festival that takes over the wonderful Flagey Arts Centre in Ixelles. Flagey also has a year-round program of music, cinema and spoken word.

Museum Night Fever, Brussels Museum Night Fever, Brussels
photo Sophie Travers

The Kaaitheater, Beurschouwburg, Les Brigitinnes and KVS present contemporary theatre, dance and performance, with innovative programming ideas like Kaaitheater’s Burning Ice festival of ecologically themed work or Beurs’ invitation to artists to curate a month long program of visual, screen, lecture and performance works.

Recyclart is a funky underground space that programs workshops and community events and hosts DJs and bands from around the world. Les Ateliers Claus is a subversive institution and L’Ancien Belgique manages to balance big name bands with quirky mini-festivals.

PassaPorta is an extraordinary literary organisation with an annual festival, artists in residence and regular talks from international writers—in all sorts of languages.

WIELS, Brussels WIELS, Brussels
photo Sophie Travers
In the visual arts, WIELS is a large three storey space in a former brewery that hosts artists in residence as well as events such as EXISTENZ, a program of live art. Private galleries such as Villa Empain and Maison Particuliere are thrilling discoveries and the Horta Museum is a gem of art nouveau architecture, beautifully preserved. In March, the city runs Museum Night Fever, a long night of events across 23 museums and of course there is the inevitable Nuit Blanche in October when the galleries are open all night.

for refreshment

Brussels has a huge offering of bars and cafes where you can enjoy the hundreds of varieties of Belgian beer. Traditional spots, such as A La Morte Subite remain frozen in time with their tarnished mirrors, cheese-on-stick snacks and mind-boggling lists of gueuzes, lambics, trappists and, my personal favourite, fruit beers.

Modern drinking holes include the deco Belga Café on the Place Flagey in Ixelles. Day or night, this place is always buzzing and brunch on a weekend, after a visit to the produce market on the square, is another personal Brussels highlight.

The plat du jour option offered by most brasseries at lunchtime is a great option for the traveller, enabling you to sample the more upmarket eateries for a fraction of the à la carte cost. A lovely spot in the picturesque Galleries Hubert is L’Ogenblik where the 11 Euro lunch dish is usually a Flemish special such as Chicons Gratins or Stoemp.

A trip to Brussels is not complete without moules and frites and any of the many restaurants around the Place St Catherine offer a steaming pot of mussels. If you are on a budget join those standing at the bar of Noordzee, a fish-shop on the same square, whose white wine, fish soup and crispy croquettes are hugely popular, especially on a warm summer evening. Even more skint? Head to a fritkot, the ubiquitous hot chip stands and join the city-wide debate about which one reigns supreme.

other highlights

Cemetery in Ypres, Belgium Cemetery in Ypres, Belgium
photo Sophie Travers
The proximity of Ghent, Bruges and Antwerp make for great day trips, especially as weekend train tickets are half price and no journey is over an hour. Those who enjoy nature can head to the Ardennes for some walking and sea lovers can head north to Oostend where a Marvin Gaye inspired headphone tour illuminates this rather forbidding resort. In Ypres the In Flanders Fields Museum commemorating World War I is shattering; the Herge Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve is fun, and of course, everyone must have their Waterloo.


Flagey Arts Centre
Les Brigitinnes
Les Ateliers Claus
L’Ancien Belgique
Villa Empain
Maison Particuliere
Horta Museum
Museum Night Fever
Nuit Blanche
A La Morte Subite
Belga Café
Marvin Gaye
n Flanders Fields Museum
Herge Museum

Sophie Travers is a Scottish born performing arts producer, based in Brussels till July 2013, at which point she will return to Melbourne where she has been living for over a decade, running

© Sophie Travers; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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