Dinner for attendees of Konvooi festival at the harbor of Bruges.
Picture: Iida Laiho.

At the start of 2022 I made a big choice in my life and decided to move abroad. It was because of my relationship that I ended up moving to the gorgeous medieval city of Bruges in Belgium. I was very excited to experience something totally different and new – before my relationship, I had never even visited the country. I was luckily able to continue my studies at University of Turku even though I lived abroad.

As I settled in the new milieu, it occurred to me that I have the perfect opportunity to take advantage of my connections in Belgium and seek for an internship in the cultural field. This way I could get to know the local job opportunities and combine work with my studies.

­­­­At the start of my search for an internship I was on the lookout for a creative job that would allow me to use my skills in my minor subject, cultural production. I decided to contact my friend, photographer Viktor Van Hoof. I was always curious of his job, so I chose to ask him about internship opportunities at his workplace at Het Entrepot. Luckily, he offered me to come to do my internship guided by him and Pieter-Jan Cools. The two-month internship started at 25th of April and ended 25th of June in 2022.

My internship was targeted to the subsidiary company of Het Entrepot called Het Lab. Het Entrepot (Eng. transshipment port) is a ‘cultural haven’ next to the harbor of Bruges. It is an organization mainly funded by the city of Bruges and Flemish government.

In addition to the main headquarters, Het Entrepot also has other subsidiaries such as Villa Bota, De Tank and Het Lab. Alongside with working at Het Lab, I also offered my help in these subsidiaries, which made my internship variative. In the beginning I was not familiar with Het Lab even though I had participated in events arranged by Het Entrepot. I was very curious and excited to be a part of the team.

Villa Bota is a radio channel and a building for radio show/podcast streaming and small concerts. It is located in the heart of Bruges. De Tank is a building of around fifty rentable ateliers, also in the center of the city. Different artists from goldsmiths to woodworkers can rent affordable atelier spaces at De Tank. Open exhibitions of these artists are also held regularly. Het Lab is a collection of open studios for printmaking, music production, studio engineering and photo/videomaking. The studio spaces of Het Lab are in the headquarters of Het Entrepot. In addition to the subsidiaries, Het Entrepot provides different rentable event/concert spaces in Bruges.

Team meeting in Ghent.
Picture: Iida Laiho.

As an introduction to Het Entrepot, I was given a good tour of the premises at the headquarters and Het Lab. Het Entrepot turned out to be bigger than I expected. The main building is not just an office; it has ateliers, concert spaces, music rehearsal studios, dancing halls and even a skate park outside. Everything seemed to flow well together, forming a big space for unlimited creativity, a warm community, and an exciting workplace.

After getting a good introduction to the space, we started to map out my responsibilities and tasks as an intern at Het Lab. We discussed what my wishes and wills as an intern are and came up with a plan from both of our perspectives.

And so I jumped into cold water…

I kickstarted my internship with coordinating the ‘’Open Ateliers’’ festival at De Tank. All the meetings regarding the management of the event happened for two weeks before the festival took place on the 13th until the 15th of May. This three-day festival gave visitors a chance to explore the atelier building of around 50 artists and see their workspaces.

As a member of the team, I was responsible for organizing the event together with De Tank manager Elke Desutter and a couple of De Tank artists. I helped to build expositions in the hallways of the building, and I curated an auction exhibition in an exposition space. I was only responsible for the management of the festival before it happened, during the festival other Het Entrepot members took over to make sure everything was running smoothly through the weekend.

During the organisation of Open Ateliers, I was also learning a lot about the facilities of Het Lab. My mentor Viktor Van Hoof took time to show me Het Lab’s facilities, including the printing room, the photography room, and the music studio. Through him and Pieter-Jan Cools I learned a lot about silkscreen printing, developing photographs, recording and editing video material, and the process behind producing music. With this information I could later on be helpful with showing Het Lab visitors how to use and take care of the common facilities and equipment.

Het Lab studio. Printmaking in progress.
Picture: Iida Laiho.

My second project was to manage an event called King of the Road. King of the Road is a 3-day skateboarding challenge, where contestants form into teams to perform different skating challenges. The most important part is to capture these challenges on video or film and later create a visual ensemble of the filmed content. After a screening event, the winner team is crowned King of the Road. Bruges has a recognizable skating scene, and it is very attached to Het Entrepot, because the organization provides one of the biggest outdoor skate parks of the city right next to the office building. I managed to form up three groups of ten skateboarders to take part to this event.

I took control of the organization, schedule, and tasks for the event. I worked closely with the team to coordinate logistics, ensuring smooth operations leading up to the event. This involved liaising with skateboarders, sponsors, and volunteers to secure resources, coordinate registration, and oversee the event’s execution. For the winning team we gave out gift cards to use the Het Lab facilities free of cost for one year. We also had a small team working on exclusive self-made silkscreen printed t-shirts that were handed out to each winner.

King of the road event banner designed by Viktor Van Hoof. Used with permission.

Beyond managing events, I had the opportunity to engage with the youth community of Bruges through workshops for school children. I organized spaces within Het Entrepot for these workshops, providing access to facilities and equipment for printing, photography, and video making. Collaborating with teachers, I facilitated creative learning experiences, enabling children to explore their artistic abilities and express themselves through different mediums.

Managing something of my own

As the culmination of my internship, I was entrusted with organizing my own event, titled “Flower Power.” This event was fully produced, directed, and managed by me. Drawing inspiration from Het Entrepot’s garden project located outside of the office, Tuinlab (eng. Garden lab), I aimed to intertwine the concept of nature with the organization’s creative space, Het Lab. By planting flowers in Tuinlab, I provided participants with inspiration and natural resources for their artistic creations.

I invited visual artist Rodrigo Fraga to help provide artistic inspiration from his own works of art and to guide the group of attendees with printmaking during the workshop. This was a great success; he was a big help to keep the artmaking process as smooth as possible for everyone.

Through my contacts at Het Lab, I got the chance to work with artist Victor Verhelst to create the visual identity for the event. The result of our collaboration was used to market the event on Het Lab’s and Het Entrepot’s social media platforms. This was a very exciting experience for me, since I am doing research about visual brand identities on my bachelor’s thesis. Victor is a highly inspiring visual artist, and he provided me with a lot of information about digital artmaking and creating visual identities for different brands and events.

Flower power event visuals designed together with artist Victor Verhelst. Used with permission.

The event carried out after my internship ended due to scheduling reasons. This was not a problem for me, since I carefully prepared everything before I ended my internship at the end of June. On the day of the workshop, I was there to make sure everything is on its place and to also take part in the challenge of creating prints inspired by nature. Outside of staff, I managed to gather around 10 participants to attend the workshop. Together we fostered a beautiful event of creativity, community, and nature.

I was very pleased with the feedback I got from working at Het Entrepot. Ever since my internship, I’ve maintained a regular contact with the staff and actively participated in their events.  In conclusion, my internship at Het Entrepot was a transformative experience, pushing me out of my comfort zone and giving me a deep dive into a vibrant cultural scene. I wholeheartedly recommend embracing opportunities abroad, as they not only broaden your horizon but also enhance your professional growth. Securing a job in the cultural sector becomes more accessible, and the skills acquired during my internship will definitely serve as a foundation for a flourishing future in the realm of cultural jobs.

More information about Het Entrepot and its subsidiaries:


Instagram: hetentrepot

Iida Laiho

The author is a bachelor student at the Degree Programme in Digital Culture, Landscape and Cultural Heritage at the University of Turku.