Level Five is an artist-run cooperative studio in Brussels. About 80 artists share a floor which houses individual and shared studios, a shared desk area, kitchen, and common spaces.
Brussels is a city with a growing network of spaces for the presentation and exchange of art and culture. But this growth does not coincide with the facilities for the production of art and culture, such as artists’ studios. If the governments (regional, local) want to profile Brussels as a city of arts and culture, they must support the creative potential that is already there. Should they want artists to stay and contribute to the city in a meaningful way, there must be a sustainable infrastructure for affordable artist studios. We believe that, together with governments, we can find a sustainable solution, not only for our initiative but for Brussels. In building this artistic ecology, no one can represent us better than we can, so artists should be part of the conversation about their place in the city.
The organisation of our workspace is inspired by council politics and democratic models of decision making and action. There is a council elected from the members of Level Five, which organises the basic obligations of the organisation (asbl Level Five vzw). There is a monthly forum where members of Level Five collectively give form to the commons of the workspace. There are numerous workgroups which develop ideas and solutions to challenges we encounter along the way.
The common spaces are where Level Five members and visitors can meet. They are conceived as open spaces that can transform into the different shapes social action can take: share a meal, watch a screening, view an exhibition, attend a lecture, participate in a discussion, etc. We feel that in this way the gap between production and presentation in the arts is narrowed down, which allows for a more lively and plural culture to emerge.
Ever since the initiation of Level Five there has been an effort towards inclusion. This can be seen in the background and experiences of people on the floor, as well as within the content and form of artistic work. In addition, there is a plurality of backgrounds, gender, and languages. In content and form, Level Five ’s members cover a wide range of artistic disciplines; from painters to performers, from academics to architects, from sculptors to social-activists. This also supports our view of art as a social and democratic practice, it is only from aesthetic plurality that all perspectives can find expression. This aim for plurality constitutes the principle aim of Level Five, that is to maintain a discussion between us and the larger cultural and societal context of Brussels.