Corona crisis forces Ancienne Belgique to show 200 external contractors the door

The cultural sector is one of the branches of the economy that has been hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis. The Brussels concert hall Ancienne Belgique (AB) is no exception to this. The concert hall in the heart of the capital is normally a hive of activity with dozens of concerts being held their every month. However, since the onset of the coronavirus crisis in March few if any concerts or other events have been held there. Consequently those that run the concert hall that is one of the Flemish Community’s major cultural venues in the capital have been forced to take drastic action. 

More than two hundred external contractors that work as technicians, bar staff, security staff and elsewhere at the AB will now see their contacts with the concert hall terminated.

Those that run the Ancienne Belgique fear that it will be next summer before they will be able restart their activities at the level that they were at prior to the onset of the coronavirus epidemic. The more than 200 external contractors are part-time staff that are drafted in when concerts or other events are staged. They equate to the equivalent of a total of 30 full time staff. Many of those that are to lose their jobs have been working for the AB for many years. The last concert played to a capacity crowd at the Ancienne Belgique was on 10 March.

The Interim Director of the AB Marc Vreebos told VRT News that "The AB works with a lot of external contractors during peak times. We won’t be able to offer these people any prospect of work at all during the autumn and so we have said to them that we will have to give up working with them for some time to come”.

Those that will be surplus to requirements are stage hands, security staff, front end and backstage catering staff, freelance technicians and cleaners.

Those employed directly by the Ancienne Belgique are currently laid off under the system of “temporary unemployment” and for the time being at least have no reason to fear for their jobs.

The concert hall says that it desperately needs a clear perspective as to when it can resume its activities. However, it fears that this might not be until the summer of next year. Meanwhile, the AB calls on music-lovers to support the LIVE 2020 initiative that is a solidarity fund for live music in Belgium. 

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