The Momentary -- the visual and performing arts venue created as a sister organization to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art -- will officially open its doors in Bentonville this February, and at its helm will be Lieven Bertels, the executive director hired for the job in 2017. The Belgian-born Bertels was quite the win for the organization: an international superstar of sorts in the arts administration world, his resume credits include international festivals like Concertgebouw Brugge and the Sydney Festival, one of the largest arts festivals in the world.
Q: You've been in Northwest Arkansas for nearly three years now. Can you tell us a little bit about what you've learned about the area, what you particularly enjoy about the area, and/or things that have made you feel at home here?
A: Community is very important to this area, and I feel privileged to be a part of the ever-growing community tapestry that is Northwest Arkansas. Everyone has welcomed me with open arms, which helped with this international move. The many bike trails, the aviation program at Thaden Field, and the continual growth of the arts community are three elements I enjoy about the area, which is no surprise to some. I'm often found riding my bike around town, practicing my archery skills, enjoying a good meal or out supporting the arts community at an event.
Q: Can you give us a general idea of what the Momentary will offer Northwest Arkansas?
A: The Momentary is a space for contemporary visual, performing and culinary arts and will serve as a living room for the community, offering areas to relax, work, eat and drink, and discover art through exhibitions, events, festivals and more.
Q: The opening is right around the corner! What's your life like as you head toward Feb. 22?
A: It's an exciting time right now! As we inch closer to opening, my days are filled with ensuring we are prepared not only for opening but for a jam-packed first year where we get to interact with the visitors more on a regular basis and welcome them into the space.
Q: The website mentions that the space "will serve as a living room for our guests, offering adaptable spaces for discovery, as well as areas to relax, work or play." Can you tell us a little bit about this aspect of the space?
A: We're transforming a 63,000-square-foot decommissioned cheese factory in downtown Bentonville. The unique space, scale and layout of the building allows us the flexibility to offer several different uses within each space. The Momentary has galleries, dedicated artist-in-residence studios, a blackbox theater, an indoor multidisciplinary performance venue called the RØDE House, an outdoor green space called the Momentary Green, indoor and outdoor community gathering areas, and culinary experiences including a Tower Bar overlooking downtown Bentonville and an Onyx Coffee Lab.
Q: The website also mentions "access to artists." Can you tell us a little bit about what that means, and what you think it can add to a cultural experience to make contact with the artists behind the art?
A: Being able to work with living artists allows us greater opportunity to bring them into the space to share their stories and outlook on art in the world.
Q: Fast forward five years: what do you think Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas as a whole will look like?
A: Our region is truly unique on so many levels. There is constant growth and development to where the possibilities are really endless, and in a way five years feels like an eternity of even more opportunities, learning and growth. One element that I'm excited about is the rapid catch-up in the renovation and improvement of our other downtown areas, Rogers and Springdale, each offering a unique flavor to our area. And I predict that before these five years are over, we will have announced our next steps, with new major projects!
NAN What's Up on 01/12/2020
Print Headline: Lieven Bertels