Level Five is an artist run cooperative studio floor located just steps from the Beurs/Bourse in Brussels. On the fifth level, about 75 artist share a floor which houses individual and shared studios, a shared desk area, a shared kitchen, and common spaces.
The organisation of the floor 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 can bring forward issues and proposals concerning the everyday environment in order to collectively give form to the commons of the studio floor.
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 drink, 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 on Level Five.
Ever since 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 roots, 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-activist. This also supports our view of art as a social and democratic practice, since only within an aesthetic plurality can all perspectives find expression. This aim for plurality constitutes the principle cause for Level Five, one to keep discussing between us and the larger cultural and societal context of Brussels.
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, for example studio spaces. Artists must therefore be part of the conversation about temporary use and artists’ studios: nobody can represent us better than ourselves! If the governments (regional, local) wants to profile Brussels as a city for art and culture, they must support the potential that is already there. If they want artists to stay and contribute to the city in a meaningful way, there must be a sustainable policy for the production spaces for art and culture. Due to a lack of choices, we have once again opted for a short period of occupation, while we feel that we can also find a sustainable solution together with the region, not only for us but also for Brussels.
For this we co-initiated PERMANENT, a practice-based research with the aim to develop an infrastructure
for permanently affordable workspaces for artists and artworkers in Brussels, together with 431, MAMA, Jubilee, Overtoon, ARP:, and CLTB.