An Article written by
Muriel Dominé
and edited by
John Ellingsworth
04 March 2024
2 min
illustration: Marion Jdanoff

Latitude 50 is based in Marchin — a small village in the Liège region and as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get in Belgium. Around us, we have around 20 houses as neighbours. This is to say that the local area, and the people that live in it, has been very important for us right from the start — and they are more than just an audience for our activities. When we host artists in residence in Marchin we have a programme called Rencontre Gens du Coin, where we connect the visiting artists with local people. So for example, recently we had an artist who wanted to meet local hunters, and we arranged for them to go out on a hunt. Latitude 50 has existed for nearly 20 years, but in 2020 we embarked on a journey to expand our facilities by constructing a new circus building and residency centre. As there aren’t many places like this in Belgium, we had to connect with international peers to get advice, and for this Circostrada was a very helpful network. We visited a lot of other structures, mainly in France, like the Dôme de Gascogne in Auch, and it helped us shape our plan for the circus building. After an open call, we decided to work with the Atelier d’architecture Meunier-Westrade and Stabilame for the design and the building of the cirque — an all-wood, low energy building, with 10-metres of free height and seating for an audience of 300. The actual construction took place during Covid, and we opened the new building in October 2022 by throwing a party for our neighbours – because when you are a very small village, it is something quite special to open such a big structure. But we also worked with Circostrada to organise four roundtable discussions that connected our local, civic surroundings to global democratic issues: inclusion, diversity, and how to reach people who are not normally in contact with culture. For each roundtable we had representatives such as Philippe Kauffman, artistic director Of Mars (Mons arts de la scène) and Charlotte Charles-Heep, artistic director of Chassepierre Street Arts Festival, as well as about twenty people gathered around each subject. It was a great moment of sharing. Now we are working with Circostrada again to put in place a Year of Circus Architecture, starting in October 2023. We’re gathering together partners including Brussels University, Berlin University, the cellule.archi of Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, and many more organisations that are outside the circus field. The first event to launch the Year will take place here in Marchin in October, gathering speakers from around Europe, including some from Circostrada network. Step by step, we hope to put Marchin on the European map. From a Belgian point of view, connecting with Europe is an obvious step. In a way, we never forget that we have roots in the beginning of the European project. I think being part of European networks is a way to show that Europe is not only an economic market; it is also a place where we can exchange shared values and different cultures.

Muriel Dominé is the Head of Distribution and External Relations at Latitude 50, in Belgium.

John Ellingsworth works as a writer and editor in the cultural field. He has worked on projects and publications for Kulturrådet, IETM – international networkfor contemporary performing arts, Dansehallerne, ELIA – European network for higher arts education, Flanders Department of Culture, Youth and Media, EDN – European Dancehouse Network, and others. He also works as a data analyst and researcher for the cultural mobility network On the Move, recently authoring several reports on digital mobility and environmental sustainability in the context of cross-border collaboration.