IN/OUT English

IN/OUT, Escape Through Art


IN/OUT is a multidisciplinary art project with many different participants. Professional artists, students from the conservatoire and amateurs communicate through art.

The project starts IN(side) with experimenting in prison with the inmates: Their whole creative process is filmed or recorded. These experiments can be musical (classical or pop music), but also choreography, paintings, narratives and poems are welcome.

OUT(side) I confront the other participants with the films and the recordings of the inmates.

The other participants are youngsters from a music school or a secondary school, people from the vulnerable society, students of the conservatoire and many professional artists.

They interpret the work of the inmates, experiment with the material: add, change, comment, perform,…and convert it into a performance which is a compilation of ideas of all participants from IN as well as OUT.

All these realizations become part of a performance for public. ( the inmates and their creations are shown on screen). In this happening also the audience has an interactive role.. After the performance all attendants can give ‘art comment’.

The new ideas/interpretation of the OUT-team is filmed again and offered to the IN-team (inmates).

The main tools are:

Art, play and communication.


Since 2010 I’ve been doing many workshops in prison and so in 2014 I’ve constructed the format IN/OUT, Escape Through Art

2015 – IN / OUT – first performance

1: IN/OUT, a première/ try out in the Music Academy of Lier (may 2015).

Everybody was very enthusiastic about the try out. The comments of the inmates were a confirmation to me that the concept works. The inmates were so proud to see themselves ‘on stage’ performing together with the OUT-team. Their self-esteem grew and they immediately started making plans for the future and coming editions. To connect with the society and communicate through art seemed to me a strong goal in their lives.                      During this creative process many doors were opened: They started talking with each other and showed empathy. They discovered joy of working and musicking together.

2016 – PI , Liers Cultuurcentrum, 28 mei 2016. – PI = LE PALAIS IDEAL

At the end of the 19th century, the French postman “Facteur Cheval” built an imaginary castle: Le Palais Idéal. He spent 30 years and 10,000 hours on this palace in which everyone could live – an artistic metaphor for answering the problems of the time. With that metaphor I built the following performance of IN / OUT: With almost the same participants as in the first project, we tinkered with an imaginary palace where everyone can go. It was actually built: The Belgian company CLICS gave me 10,000 blocks so that I could put everyone to work to build our own Palais Idéal with the Clics building blocks. Prisoners as well as students of my lab, the underprivileged, conservatory students, visual artists and many others built an imaginary palace together.

2017 – PI as a benefit for the MoWe Refugee Work                                                                                                  – PI in the Singel of Antwerp during the Day of the Academies

2018 IN / OUT, October 4 – University of Huddersfield                                                                                Dr Toby Martin invited me to present IN / OUT to the students of the University of Huddersfield.

2018 MUSOC Conference, October 6 – St. Johns University of York                                                      Dr Jennie Henley – Royal College of Music, London / University of Manchester invited me to speak about my method for ‘Excellence and Inclusion’.

2019 Floating Cities, Liers Cultural center 3 March 2019

Cyber ​​philosopher Jan Rotmans says: “We don’t live in an era of changes but we live in a change of era!” Our world is changing in all areas: Societal, social, religious, economic, political, ecological, … He also says: “Don’t worry about global warming but start thinking about floating cities.                                                                                                                                                  This statement is enormously stimulating in this day and age. You can see it as very hopeful: You are just starting to build a new society. Are you simply developing new cities, or is it more complex? In many ways FC is characteristic of our current society. Aren’t we all a bit “floating” and isn’t our entire society a bit in disarray? In this way of thinking I took all the participants along to build a performance together. Everyone participated from his point of view and with his means and limitations.                                                                                      In addition to the Turnhout prison, there was meanwhile collaboration with the FPC in Ghent and the OPZC in Rekem. The Public Psychiatric Care Center of Rekem is an open institution. On one hand, long-term psychiatric prisoners are received and where, on the other hand, a process is being investigated to integrate prisoners back into our society through counselling.                                                                                                                                              Musicians: Dick van der Harst, Toby Martin, Tim Courteyn, Tian Yu, Astrid Espinosa, Femke Sonnen, Irene Vilanova, Frédéric Chaine, Noreen Broeckhoven, Yidan Zhang, Luka van Couteren, Jolan Jacobs, Dries Veraert, Jelle Verckens, Yeshe Grisar, Halima and Sudra Alkarat, Daniel Mombongo Malu, Eben and Gabriël Sarpong, Dariusz Tarasiuk, Sandra, Bert, Saskia and Sarah Janssens, Sussana, Cathérine Duchateau, Sarina Lesage, Erik Rottiers, Sliman, Martin and Karim. The men in custody of OPZC in Rekem.

2019, Universe Next Door (9-11 August 2019, Low Gillerthwaite Field Center)                                Dr Dave Camlin (Royal College of Music – London) invited my wife, sarah Verhulst and myself to participate in a new initiative inspired by my formats IN / OUT and MULTICOLORS. During this first edition, IN / OUT was used as a format to allow prisons of America, Norway, Belgium and England to participate.

2019 IC CIPEM – Porto, September 2019 During the IC CIPEM conference, IN / OUT was presented as a format and the methodology was explained how all different participants can participate.

2020 Iedereen Klassiek award of Radio Klara  for the formats IN/OUT and MULTICOLORS


Music Academy of Lier( Antwerp) – Lab

It is amazing that a project like IN / OUT can emerge from an academy. The lab is the perfect place for this and has a lot of experience in a wide variety of projects. Over the years, the lab has evolved into a platform where young people, adults, people from the fourth world (Ons gedacht) and refugees can meet in various projects. This year we welcomed 5 young people from all over the world who were given the opportunity to take free music lessons through “Sound of Home”. They were also involved in this production.

AP-Hogeschool, Conservatoire of Antwerp

The students of Antwerp have been involved from the start of the project. For these musicians, who graduated as a Master for one year, it is very confronting to be able to participate in a similar project. It is very broadening for them to be disconnected from the world of “excellence” and It is wonderful to experience their amazement and enthusiasm during this collaboration. The group grows every year. 8 students worked intensively on this performance. They joined the prison. Others also came to work in the lab or participate in the sessions with the people of the fourth world. There is a very enthusiastic response to this method abroad and several universities invited me to explain this method (RoyaL College of Music, London, University Huddersfield, St-Johns University York, CIPEM – Porto).

Vulnerable society

This community has been working in the lab and our academy for 6 years. It has become a regular company with its own expression. They call their course “free music”. In this way everyone feels the complete freedom to make music together in his or her possibilities.


People from all over the world participate in this production. They came to live in Lier and the surrounding area since 2015, fleeing the horrors in their country of origin. Since 2016 I try to include them in all projects. Their origin and rich cultures color this performance.

Dr Toby Martin

I met Toby at the 2nd SIMM posium in London (2018). Toby is a historian and pop musician by training. He realized very memorable collaborations with Aboriginal people in Australia, around which he also obtained his PhD. He is chief lecturer at the University of Huddersfield. Toby was fascinated by the IN / OUT project from the start. He therefore wanted to attend the entire process. I invited him to all participants and he even joined the stage at the performance on March 3rd.


This project grew from the collaboration with the prisoners of Turnhout since 2010: Jailhouse Rock, a VTM production – Telefacts 2/6/10 and several workshops during the following years. The aim is to develop a structural operation in which the prisoners get a different focus through art: structures can be built up from art with which they can broaden their self-image and regain a voice in the world. Such a positive approach allows them to develop new perspectives and make their lives more meaningful again.

The collaboration of the many participants creates a network that brings communication between the closed and open world through art and performance. The project is about reactions to art, to life, to the world in which we live. The visions of all the different participants can bring about a lively communication, both inside and outside the walls.

Research It is also evident and necessary that this project is monitored and evaluated from the outset by a team of researchers. These people are best from different social sectors in order to achieve the greatest possible focus. So it is interesting to have the entire process monitored by both music psychologists and behavioral therapists. With the findings of those people, the whole idea can be firmly substantiated. Their conclusions and results can be used to make it clear to the government what the power of such a formula can be: how people can rediscover part of their self-esteem after many years through art and expression; how disturbed or disoriented minds can arrive at constructive communication via the musical. The positive vibrations initiate a purely creative process, alien to all criminal proceedings. Past and circumstances fade or circumstances become more bearable.

The participants

Prisons of Turnhout , Genth and Rekem

SAMWD Lier  ( the Music Academy of Lier)

Conservatoire of Antwerp (Music, Drama and Dance)

Ons Gedacht, the vulnerable society of Lier

Refugees/ Sound of Home

The Academies of Antwerp


De Rode Antraciet

The Universe Next Door – Information and Booking