It takes a village: De Roma looking for donors for new foyer


One of Flanders’ most beloved concert venues has launched a campaign to raise money to renovate its historical foyer

1920s Art Deco monument

Danielle Dierckx, general director of Antwerp culture centre De Roma, doesn’t mince words. “From the beginning it was clear that a renovation of our foyer would only be possible with a respect for history and the authentic quality of the building. And that costs money. Lots and lots of money.”

Fortunately for the space, which hosts concerts, movies and theatre in the Borgerhout district, its fans are OK with that. De Roma launched a fundraising campaign in December for the renovation of its foyer, which is set to cost €100,000. It has so far received one-third of the total.

“We are extremely pleased with the support of so many people,” said Dierckx. “It’s proof that De Roma is carried by many hands.”

Should all go according to plan, work on the foyer of the Art Deco gem (pictured) will begin this summer. De Roma was built as a cinema in 1927. In the 1960s, it replaced movies with rock groups, and in the 1980s, it shut down.

Monument Prize

In 2003, renovation works began, largely carried out by hundreds of volunteers and subsidies from the city, province and region. De Roma has a structural subsidy of about €750,000 per year, but this covers only 25% of its costs.

Renovations projects have been ongoing since 2015, with the help of sponsors. In 2016, it won Flanders’ Monument Prize – both the juried and the Public Prize – given to an organisation that has shown outstanding commitment to the preservation of Flemish monuments or heritage. Last year, it won the contest for Antwerp’s Most Beautiful Building.

We’re on the right track, but we realise we still have a long way to go

- Danielle Dierckx

The organisation must now, says Dierckx “retain the charming look of our beautiful, authentic foyer”. Necessary works include new sound panelling on the ceiling, maintenance of the entryway doors, replacement of the electrical system and new paint. “The bar has also seen better days,” she says, “and must be refurbished in order to more efficiently serve our 200,000 visitors a year.”

De Roma hopes to open its renovated Foyer with the new season in September. “We’re on the right track, but we realise we still have a long way to go,” says Dierckx. “I am, however, convinced that we will find enough people to put their weight under this project.”

Donations can be made online or to bank account BE 237 340077682 91 with the notation “Help De Roma in de lift”. All donors will be invited to the grand opening of the new foyer and receive a large-scale photograph of De Roma, taken by the house photographer.

Photo courtesy De Roma