BRUSSELS – Less brutal cuts

Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon (N-VA), in charge of cultural policies, has announced the granting of just over €4 million in subsidies for cultural projects in Flanders, after initially only €3.4 million were to be distributed in two phases. The  measure, which mainly targeted emerging artists, had sparked major protests across the country. 

Jambon now has claimed to have now found €600,000 in surplus, which for the first phase means that 90% of the projects which have been considered as “very good” by the selecting commission therefore will receive a subsidy. 

At the end of last year, the Flemish government had announced plans to cut funding for the cultural sector, arts institutions and heritage preservation by 60% in 2020 – a cutback which would have slashed the availability of project grants.

In response, a hashtag campaign, whereby more than 200 artists held parts of their works behind bright yellow banners, the Flemish national colour, went viral. 

“This drastic reduction of investment resources is not only a sign of a political agenda becoming too ideological. Today, journalists, ethnocultural associations and civil society organisations are also targeted. We are in solidarity with them,” Kobe Matthys from the State of the Arts organisation stated, accusing the Flemish state of an attack against the creative scene.

The revised measures, however, have a downside too: two-year projects have been reduced to one year, while institutions which already receive a structural subsidy are not entitled to one.

(Alexandra Brzozowski |

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