Broelbabbel with Luc Keppens: “I also need fantasy, art and music”

On his LinkedIn page, Luc Keppens describes himself as an ‘experienced retail and private banker, with additional communication and project management skills in an international business environment’. And we can only confirm that. But the top banker is not only defined by an impressive career in the financial sector, as a lover of culture he took over from Jo Liberer as chairman of Wilde Westen earlier this year.

Luc Keppens was born in Dendermonde in 1958. During his studies in Leuven, he met Annemie Vanneste from Kortrijk, with whom he has two daughters. Luc has lived in Kortrijk for more than 40 years now. Luc studied Germanic philology and American studies at KU Leuven. He also obtained a master’s degree in business administration from Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School (currently Vlerick Business School).

“Cultural passion is not buried”

After several years of working in the SME world, Luc ended up in the banking sector at Generale Bank. He was account manager until 1990 and then became commercial director in Kortrijk until 1996 and then Brussels. Luc then spent four years in Utrecht at the Fortis merger and two years in Lille as Regional Director for Northern France. Since 2016 he has been responsible for all alternative brands under BNP Paribas Group, Luc is CEO at Fintro, sits on the board of bpost bank and is chairman of Demetris.

Yet, in his own words, he would not be able to survive in a purely economic world. In recent years he has become increasingly involved in museums and literary magazines and published his first book in 2020 Vaccines in preparationan essay on the corona pandemic and its impact, consequences and opportunities. According to Luc, the economic and cultural sectors need each other. “I deliberately chose to work in the bank, a realistic job, but that alone was not enough. I also need fantasy, art and music. The two balance each other. The cultural passion is not buried.”

Wild West

The former chairman of concert and festival organizer Wilde Westen (formerly known as De Kreun and Festival van Vlaanderen, ed.) was Jo Liber. He put forward Luc as a candidate successor. “We have known each other for a long time from the business world. Jo knew that I was a culture lover and that the position would appeal to me. If things come along that fit my stall, I’ll do them as long as I have the energy“, says Luke.

Meanwhile, for six months he has been able to call himself chairman of Wilde Westen, a unique multi-genre organization that is a leader in sound art, contemporary art, jazz, classical, pop and rock. “We don’t shy away from cross-pollination with other disciplines,” says director Tom Vangheluwe. “We strive for a balanced selection of national and international (sub)toppers, mixed with notable underground acts. In addition, Wilde Westen also organizes a number of related music educational activities that aim to inform and inspire both the public and active musicians.”

Prosperous region

Unfortunately, it is a difficult period for art in general, especially after corona, and the cultural sector is also feeling the consequences of the current crises. Although the Wilde West does not see black snow. “As chairman, I have the pleasure of looking at the long term. Even in times of war, people went in search of cultural experiences, but the need must be manageable,” continues Luc.

“Due to my experience from the business world, I know that you have to be able to make decisions in the short term. But the Wild West is a very well-run cultural institution, I shouldn’t interfere too much with it, and I don’t want to. A cultural enterprise that depends on its board of directors for survival has no future. I am here as a sparring partner to spar with the team and as chairman I primarily look forward. What are new ways to secure funding and a sustainable environment to allow this to continue to exist and grow. Kortrijk is a very prosperous region, but prosperity in a cultural desert, no one wants to live there. I see it as my personal mission to give something back to society. I have a lot of energy left and I want to put it in.”

DEVELOP

Tom agrees that the Wild West has a strong and complementary team, with a sense of cross-fertilization and opportunity. Together they organize about a hundred concerts a year and support five festivals: Sonic City, Festival van Vlaanderen Kortrijk, BOS! festival, Jazz Cats and since last year UNWRAP., a collaboration with DAE van Howest. “With this festival, we are looking at the future of entertainment. All that is at the interface between the music and art sector and the technology sector. It is an ambitious project with plenty of room for growth. It has always been my belief to grow steadily. Not wanting to go too fast or too big is a formula for success in my opinion, something we proved with Sonic City.”

Chairman Luc Keppens looks with great optimism at the future of Wilde Westen. “A cultural organization that works with pop, rock and classical and futuristic technology creates an interesting dynamic. One that is ready for the future and its challenges,” concludes Luc.

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