About the Landbouwbelang

Aan de oever van de Maas in het Boschstraatkwartier waakt een grote metalen draak over de ingang van een oud graanpakhuis. Tot een aantal jaren geleden stond er in grote letters “Landbouwbelang” te lezen op de zijkant. Tegenwoordig is deze zijde van het gebouw ingepakt met een groot groen zeil om de afbrokkeling van de oude muren tegen te gaan. Binnen de met graffiti “bekladde” muren leeft in geuren en kleuren de culturele vrijplaats die eveneens het Landbouwbelang wordt genoemd.

Organisations and others

The building is officially owned by the municipality of Maastricht, but since 2002 it is being used by artists, musicians, programmers, designers and students who made it their home. The avarage inhabitant or visitor of Maastricht can only guess to what happens within the walls of the Landbouwbelang. Which is actually quite strange, since every week several cultural activities are being organised within and around the building, all open to the public. To provide a glimpse into this world, Bert Janssen spent a year capturing the activities of the Landbouwbelang and released a special book with a selection of the images he took.

Behind the big yellow doors, the cultural freezone Landbouwbelang always runs full speed thanks to the inhabitants, engaged volunteers and donations from it's visitors. With their activities they rebel against the "throwaway society" and stimulate awareness in eating and drinking, consumer behavior and spending leisure time. From beehives on the roof to a freeshop in the basement, every room of the Landbouwbelang has given birth to a fascinating initiative. "This is a magical place, I have the feeling I need to contribute to this," said a Spanish backpacker who captured the inspiring spaces with a little video camera.

You can get aquinted to the vegan or vegetarian biological kitchen while enjoying a Gulpener biological Ur-beer or a Bionade. You are also at the right place to enjoy a concert or jam-session. Within it's huge halls the Landbouwbelang offers young talent in both arts and theatre a place to expose themselves, a good example being the show of Cirque du Platzak which is hosted every year.

A new initiative was started in the garden of the Landbouwbelang. A group of volunteers started renovations on one of the badly maintained lockkeeper's houses in 2009. In 2011 the doors of the Landhuis opened in this house, a platform that connects people with sustabinable ideas and gives them the space to implement those ideas. The building which was declared uninhabitable now offers workshop area's, a fully equiped kitchen and a living room, made with sustainable materials from the surroundings.

Maastricht has plenty of cultural freezones of which the Landbouwbelang is considered the largest. The initiatives of this non-profit organisations are independent but have matching ideas, networks and target groups. Nevertheless, their future is unsure due to changes in the cultural field of Maastricht and a relatively new law which makes the squatting of buildings illegal in the Netherlands. Because of changing destination plans, Maastricht' squats Mandril and Ossekop have already been evicted. In order to pursue bigger ideals and stand strong as organisations, Landbouwbelang, Landhuis, Kunstfront, OHP9, B32 and the new Mandril have united as the Cultural Freezone Collective. Together they strife to be able to continue their activities and to become a part of the cultural heritage of Maastricht.

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