Le Rideau de Bruxelles

Skip to content Back to insights
Text Images

In recent decades, there has been a gradual shift in how the cultural sector functions, as managerial jargon and marketing strategy infiltrate a scene once built upon artistic genius and poetic license. Subsidies are getting smaller and are more targeted towards art forms that are easily commercialized. Austerity and budget cuts have created a competitive sector, where being marketable is scarily perhaps more important than being meaningful.

It is in this context, that cultural institutions such as Le Rideau take a stand and offer forward-thinking art, contributing a breath of fresh air to a stifled and ever-more conservative creative sector. Having existed since the 1940s within the Belgian theatre arts scene as a nomadic troupe, Le Rideau finally settled down as a permanent venue in 2019, in the buzzing Brussels district of Ixelles-Matongé. After decades of successful travelling productions, the theatre was off to a fresh start, and with a new director to lead the revolution both on- and offstage. Actor and director Cathy Min-Jung took the reins of the institution in 2020, and quickly decided the structure needed a new way to communicate, in step with the groundbreaking programme le Rideau was to offer.

Stoëmp responded to the open call, and, being selected from amongst a pool of outstanding proposals, embarked upon a journey with le Rideau and their team.


Our proposal for strategy was based on a botanical analogy: Le Rideau is a vector of cross-pollination. Greater than the sum of its parts (venue, team, programming, artists, spectators), we saw le Rideau as a federating device and creator of new connections between diverse entities. The new performance space, premises, bar, and café of le Rideau are the physical nerve centre of a local, national and international network. The guiding theme of our vision is the power of networking and co-creation, in a contemporary context where it seems clear that we will always be stronger together.

Over the course of several workshops, discussions, activities, and meetings, we grasped the true identity of Le Rideau, and implicated the team in every step of the development of their communications revamp.

We amplify each other

In order to voice the theatre’s philosophy and mission, as well as its programme, we proposed a radical and environmentally friendly approach. Forget printing thousands of flyers and distributing them on bar countertops where they would end up as makeshift ashtrays or roaches. Forget printing hundreds of booklets destined to sit in toilet stalls before being trashed during the annual Spring clean. We proposed a series of mindful collaborations, that would not only expand le Rideau’s audience but would situate the theatre within a complex cultural fabric.

Local radios, bookstores, galleries, artists… Stoëmp and le Rideau compiled a series of potential collaborations that would reach many more potential theatregoers than printed advertisements.

Fluid system

In terms of design, we had to make a clean break from the standard graphic systems (over)used in the theatre world. Goodbye black backgrounds, hints to curtains, nods to stage lights, vintage typefaces, and the hierarchical layout of A3 posters. Because Le Rideau is not a brand or a product, we approached their visual identity as complex and constantly evolving. We proposed a « fluid graphic system »: a scaffolding, an ultra-solid and identifiable yet flexible structure on which you can place variable visual and textual content. Rather than a logo, colour, and typography, le Rideau is recognizable by the way they communicate.

Stoëmp provided a user-friendly toolkit comprising 3 typefaces, to be applied across all media—Instagram, Facebook, and the website—in combination with strong visual assets. Easy to use by all, whether internally or by outside contributors and artists; this is a system that encourages collaboration.

Guerilla girls

We teamed up with Brussels-based textual content studio Blurbs to create a verbal identity for Le Rideau. A made-to-measure workshop allowed us to determine their tone of voice: dynamic, cheeky, surprising, and accessible were the guiding characteristics we followed. Taking inspiration from radical feminist artists such as Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, and the Guerilla Girls, we crafted a verbal charter that packs a punch. Blurbs and Stoëmp came together to offer a verbal playbook of striking statements to be used on social media, in press communications, and on merchandise.

Take to the streets

In September 2021, Le Rideau launched their new season, Nous sommes le paysage (We are the landscape). Staying true to the new, radical identity we had constructed for the theatre, we promoted the opening with a guerilla poster campaign: block letters were pasted up on the city’s walls, with little or no direct reference to Le Rideau itself. A van drove around Brussels with the slogan on its side, and stickers were distributed and stuck up on toilet doors, drain pipes, and letterboxes.

The season and new identity of the theatre were simultaneously revealed, to great shock within the scene: indeed, revolution should not leave indifferent. A fruitful collaboration with local eclectic webradio Kiosk led to the opening night being broadcast on their waves, and a radio show and performance were held later in the year from their studio in the Parc Royal, cross-pollinating and therefore organically growing the structures’ respective audiences.