Face of Flanders: Franky Devos


Seeking to connect the arts to the worlds of education, business and science, Ghent culture centre Vooruit is welcoming in a new chief

Love, work, share

After years of high staff turnover and organisational turmoil, the Ghent culture centre Vooruit is back on its feet. As part of a major transformation project, which saw drastic changes to the organisation, its mission and its building, it’s also welcoming a new chief: Franky Devos.

Devos’ new responsibilities will extend beyond those De Ruyck held as he will also fill the brand-new post of “general co-ordinator”, a position that was created in an effort to make the venue’s decision-making process more efficient.

Devos has been leading Buda since 2007. Since then, the Kortrijk venue has become the largest arts workspace in Flanders, hosting some 60 theatre and dance companies every year, while visitor numbers at its cinema have increased by 40%.

Buda also played a key role in the birth of the Next Festival. Initiated together with four other arts and performance houses, it struck up a cross-border artistic collaboration with venues in Wallonia and northern France, earning it an award last year from EFFE, which fetes trend-setting and boundary-pushing festivals across Europe.

But what most distinguished Devos’ years at Buda was his cross-sectional approach, which sought to connect the arts to the worlds of education, business and science. In 2012, he developed a method called “love, work, share”, which saw a network of partners from the four sectors deciding on Buda’s programming and planning.

In Devos’ model, “love” stands for giving people from different sectors the chance to meet each other, such as at Budalibre, a cafe that invites people with innovative ideas to present their ideas, chat and mingle.

“Work” stands for active cross-sectional collaboration, which is exemplified in Kortrijk’s Open City Lab, a place where people from different backgrounds work together and members of the public are free to try their hand at laser cutters and 3D printers. Finally, “share” stands for sharing experiences with as many people as possible, for instance, through Buda’s temporary exhibitions.

In other words, Vooruit’s choice of Devos as general director and co-ordinator is radical and signals the venue’s desire to cross-pollinate the arts with other sectors of society.