The independent arts organisation Antwerpen Open was founded in 1997. It was tasked with promoting Antwerp's and Flanders's international reputation as a cultural city by organising large-scale projects with national and international appeal.
In 1999, the Van Dyck year attracted 325,000 visitors. In the margin of the Fashion Year in 2001, the city was awash with iconic coloured fields, which appeared on various buildings, and the large red A on the KBC Tower. These and many other projects set a new standard for the organisation of qualitative cultural city projects, which garnered broad support. VAN DYCK 1999, MODE 2001 LANDED/GELAND, RUBENS 2004, ANTWERP WORLD BOOK CAPITAL ABC2004, HOGER/HIGHER/PLUSHAUT, O DIERBAAR ANTWERPEN, KAAILAND, THE OPENING FESTIVAL OF THE MAS, THE RED STAR LINE FESTIVAL, WINTERVUUR or HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR ACADEMIE... these festivals all involved many partners and were based on broad collaborations. The content of the programme was qualitative. They all paid attention to durability and strived to achieve a permanent or structural effect. These festivals were also locally embedded, as well as having great international appeal, with an innovative take on communication and a passion for the arts and the city in all its variations.
But the story does not end here. Antwerpen Open continues to innovate. As of 1 January 2015, it was integrated in Antwerpen Kunstenstad (Antwerp Art City).
In January 2015, the city's non-profit organisations Antwerpen Open and Musea en Erfgoed joined forces, establishing a new non-profit organisation called Antwerpen Kunstenstad. The objectives, mission and activities of the two former organisations will continue under the new name.
Antwerpen Kunstenstad wishes to promote the local, regional and international cultural appeal of Antwerp through qualitative museum and heritage projects and the organisation of qualitative artistic or cultural projects in Antwerp. Besides this, Antwerpen Kunstenstad will also take on the arts policy of the City of Antwerp in order to stimulate the diversity and the dynamics of Antwerp's artistic landscape.
Antwerpen Kunstenstad is tasked with enhancing the city's local, regional and international cultural appeal and the engagement of the city's inhabitants and other stakeholders as well as developing and implementing a flexible and efficient financial management approach in view of achieving the following:
~ the objectives of the museums and heritage institutions of the city of Antwerp in terms of their collection and public policy
~ the objectives of various other related fields in art policy
~ the objectives of cultural events of the City of Antwerp
Antwerpen Kunstenstad is also tasked with contributing to promoting the city of Antwerp as a cultural city in Belgium and abroad.