Frie Leysen Grant

Kunstenfestivaldesarts will start this year with an empty day: a day dedicated to Frie Leysen, who left us last autumn. Frie Leysen founded Kunstenfestivaldesarts in 1994, bringing together the French-speaking and Flemish arts sectors in an international festival in Brussels. She was a staunch defender of artistic creation, the need for audacity and the possibility of not always having to please the public. With her vitality and sharp presence of mind, she changed the cultural landscape forever. She was an inspiring figure at home and abroad for colleagues and subsequent generations. The theater world wouldn't be the same without her contribution, and will never be the same without her. With the empty day with which we open this edition of the festival, we want to make this immense loss tangible. 

Kunstenfestivaldesarts and deSingel - the arts center that founded Frie in 1980 - are jointly establishing a scholarship for emerging artists in her name: a tribute to Frie's commitment to always looking to the future rather than honouring the past. As many remember, Frie described herself as a hyphen: between artists who have the urgency to share their vision with an audience; a hyphen between artistic and geographical contexts.

The pandemic reinforces the absolute need for this hyphen, for connection, the need for new narratives and perspectives. Hence, our choice for this first grant of 10,000 euros, goes to the artist Luis Guenel. Luis Guenel is a young Chilean artist with a distinct artistic language that confronts us with new forms of theatricality. After Frie came into contact with his early work, they continued to maintain an intense dialogue. Even in the last months of her life, their conversations were vital for both of them. 
The Kunstenfestivaldesarts and deSingel wish to continue the support Frie gave to this beginner artist in a symbolic way and are therefore awarding the first Frie Leysen scholarship to Luis Guenel. For his radicalism, friendship, challenging artistic language and social commitment.

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