People make the place. That's why we sat down with the entrepreneurs who have been dedicating their time to a special part of Breda for quite some time: the Harbor Quarter. A skatepark, a cultural hub, a creative business park, a brewery in an old factory hall, and a city beach, all within walking distance of each other. There's something for everyone at the Harbor Quarter! Follow the Red Thread and discover it all. Curious about the story behind these places? Read along.
The city beach for young and old: Belcrum Beach.
One of these entrepreneurs is Frank Zijlmans, the chairman of Belcrum Beach, a city beach in Breda. Frank shares his conviction: "It's important to do something for the city, to contribute - not always from a financial perspective." He believes that cities become more vibrant and lively through the organization of cultural activities. According to Frank, the Havenkwartier certainly plays a valuable role in this.
In 2013, Belcrum Beach came into existence with the aim of giving a purpose to an unused piece of land. Now, a decade later, the city beach attracts a diverse group of visitors, ranging in age from 0 to 80 years. On Wednesday afternoons, it welcomes parents with children, while on Sunday afternoons, music enthusiasts gather there. A melting pot of people and activities.
Belcrum Beach takes pride in its open and inviting character. The city beach organizes a number of cultural events per year. Frank emphasizes, "We don't aim for overly ambitious goals, we keep it simple." At Belcrum Beach, you can relax with a drink in your hand, your feet in the sand, and a view of the water, in a cozy corner of Breda.
(Not) a theater - Bloos
With roots in Brabant, a residence just across the border, and extensive experience within companies and organizations in the performing arts throughout the country, Monique van Beek started as the director of Bloos in 2021. Bloos is (not) a theater. This is the slogan of the building located on the distinctive Speelhuislaan. It functions as a production house, an incubator, and a presentation space. Monique: "Bloos encompasses a wide range of activities, going beyond the presentation of performing arts alone. We provide a space where talent at different levels has the freedom to create and receives tailored guidance."
And this creation, this actual making, is happening abundantly. For example, there's the successful 39Graden program, a community initiative focused on developing creative talent for young people between 15 and 23 years old. Additionally, Bloos serves as a production house, where a new generation of (theatre) creators find support for things like research, production, and residencies. Of course, there's also an inspiring and dynamic program.
What makes this area special? "In the Havenkwartier, you're constantly in contact with the creator themselves. This direct contact is a valuable experience for both the audience and the creator. After a performance, you can casually chat on the square or in the café. Makers find each other more easily for collaborations, partly due to the high concentration of talent in the same area." At BLOOS, you're welcome to join the diverse program, which can be found on their website.
The impressive industrial brewery: BRACK (temporarily closed)
Lotte van Boxtel has been involved since the very first day of BRACK. She left behind her first love, the bustling nightlife in the center of Breda, and chose an imposing industrial hall. Why? "The Havenkwartier has something special, something that Breda doesn't have anywhere else. The nightlife is fun, but here it's magical." Now, she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of BRACK, overseeing tasks such as external communication and procurement, but she also still occasionally stands behind the bar to pour a beer.
BRACK is currently temporarily closed.
According to Lotte, what characterizes the Havenkwartier is that there is something for every type of visitor to experience. "Among the various entrepreneurs here, you'll truly find something for everyone. Are you familiar with the 'Havenkwartier route'? You can visit a market at STEK, drop off your kids at the bowl at Pier15, relax at Belcrum Beach, experience a cultural program at Electron or Bloos, and end the day with a tasty meal at BRACK."
Furthermore, the Havenkwartier is within walking distance of the city center, but far enough to form its own world and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Recently, BRACK has taken steps to fulfill roles beyond hospitality, by entering collaborations with entities like BredaPhoto, Bloos, and Nieuwe Veste. They also provide space for makers and artists to organize exhibitions in the rear part of the large hall.
a site you must explore: STEK
STEK is a cultural business park located on Veilingkade in Breda. Maryon Keldermans explains: "Here you can find a bit of everything. A record store, dining establishments, many creative makers, a music studio, and even a company that recycles plastic into new building material. The variety is immense."
The charming terrain itself is an experience to explore. There is so much to discover, and every corner has a different ambiance. STEK provides space for entrepreneurs who may not necessarily aim to become large-scale, but are focused on forging new paths, experimenting, and innovating. Sustainability and reuse are highly valued. Maryon emphasizes the importance of preserving a place in the city for these individuals.
During the summer, markets are organized at STEK, and even in winter, there's a two-day Christmas market. Even without special events, it's worth taking a stroll around the premises. "It's different here. The atmosphere and the people are relaxed. It's a unique part of Breda and a special piece of the Netherlands," concludes Maryon.
The urban skatepark and a meeting place: Pier15
"We felt like something was missing in the city, so we built it ourselves," begins Rinse Staal, team leader at Pier15. Over the past nine years, Pier15 has evolved into a free space where culture, urban sports, and social interaction take center stage.
"There's a lot of energy in the city, and there are a lot of great ideas. On this site, young people and adults have the space to turn those ideas into concrete plans, without obstacles. We adapt to their norms, values, and ideas, and in return, we get a fun dynamic. They really want to contribute to the city, and we're happy to give them a push in the right direction."
Pier15 is a vibrant place where you can visit the café or terrace almost daily. In addition to the skatepark, you'll find urban sports like basketball, numerous events, and art projects. Furthermore, Pier15 facilitates a skate school and language development projects, and there are multiple festival concepts.
"Our idea has always been that you should discover this place. You never know exactly what's going to happen when you step inside. And then suddenly you're face-to-face with the various initiatives, people, and interesting details - that's stimulating and that's where our strength lies," concludes Rinse.
The cultural living room: Electron & MotMot Gallery
Electron, a cultural hub with studios and workspaces, as well as the cultural living room MotMot Gallery, serves as the canvas for Lisette Spee. Immediately after graduating from the Sint Joost Academy of Art and Design in Breda, she finds her place at the Kop Foundation, along with the corresponding studio in Electron. Her path was soon paved with connecting people and organizing events and exhibitions. And it's a path she continues to tread, now as the director of Electron.
"The Havenkwartier is like a small village. You step out onto the street, run into each other, and can embark on projects." Electron is becoming more and more like a community center. It's a place where projects and events are tested, an environment that encourages experimentation and interaction. "By literally handing people the keys to the building, you create a sense of ownership. With more input and responsibility, a deeper engagement also emerges," Lisette experiences.
Lisette embraces the principle of "before you try to change the world, take three laps around your own house." It's a philosophy she likes to promote. Her focus lies in showcasing the existing talent in the city. She aims to inspire her environment and fellow citizens - from the neighbor's child experiencing art and theater for the first time, to policymakers who, in unconventional ways, confront different perspectives.