We travel, go to museums and art galleries, visit cities and explore lands to increase our knowledge of the other one, of their past and present. It’s not just an intellectual enrichment, it’s very much a heartfelt pleasure to discover and be surprised by yet another thing we did not know! As guides this is very much what we do; to study and learn. Then we try and transmit.
It is very satisfying to guide my clients who come as tourists, cultured and curious to the bone. But there is another aspect of my profession that is important to me: participating in educational and emancipation projects that target a local public, some ordinary citizens, some less fortunate.
On the one hand working as a volunteer in established institutions, like the libraries of the Tate Gallery and the Greffrey Museum when I lived in London or the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent when in Belgium.
And on the other hand, working for small projects launched by inspiring people with great ideals and the necessary energy to make things actually come of the ground. In Brussels in 2009 IntoImage, the brainchild of Chris De Becker, was born, a non-profit organisation all about how to deal with images in an image-flooded society. IntoImage is for example currently creating a pedagogical tool for art initiation for school teachers.
Boussoles des Rues in Montmartre, Paris, June 2017
Now that I am here in Paris, I joined three other guides in the non-profit organisation “Boussoles des Rues” created by Fabien Renard. “Boussoles des Rues” offers guided tours free of charge to non-profit organisations like the “Secours Populaire” or the “Secours Catholique” who help the poorest and most vulnerable (including refugees in the process of obtaining their paperwork) in our society. They too are entitled to access the French national heritage for its beauty and for all the cultural information it holds.
To sum it all up: let’s arm everyone with these important tools for a well functioning democracy: art and culture!