In Belgium the culture policy belongs to the competences of the communities. This implies that there is no Ministry of Culture at national level, but three Ministries of Culture at Community level, respectively for the Flemish, French and German speaking communities. Each community has developed its own policy with specific instruments and structures for implementation. In Flanders the Arts Division of the Department of Culture, Youth and Media has been entrusted with this task.
Arts Flemish Parliament Act
Within the Arts Division the Arts Flemish Parliament Act is the main support tool. The Arts Flemish Parliament Act strives for an integrated approach to all artistic disciplines.
The Act supports artistic organisations and activities with the following functions:
The Arts Flemish Parliament Act focuses on the following art forms: performing arts, music, plastic and (multi-screen) audiovisual arts, architecture, design, cultural publications, new media and hybrid forms.
Two independent funds are responsible for the support of literature and audiovisual productions: the Flemish Literature Fund and the Flanders Audiovisual Fund.
General overview of the funding instruments of the Arts Flemish Parliament Act
- Multi-annual subsidies: we provide structural funding for five years to art centres, festivals, music clubs, concert organizations, artistic workspaces, performing art groups, music ensembles and architecture organisations. This subsidy covers the overhead, staff and artistic costs of organizations, providing long-term security. Multi-annual subsidies are only accessible for organisations located in Flanders or Brussels.
- Project subsidies are accessible to organisations as well as to individual artists who are based in Flanders/Brussels. The subsidy is granted for artistic projects with a limited time and subject. Foreign organisations can also apply for a project, if there is an involvement with the art scene within the Flemish community. Also, a presentation component in the project is required. Click here for more information on project grants.
- Individual grants for artists for the development of their oeuvre. Your nationality is of no importance when applying for a development grant, but you have to be based in Flanders/Brussels and an involvement in the art scene in the Flemish Community is required. Click here for more information on development grants.
- A subsidy for an international public presentation offers an individual artist of an organisation involved in the art scene within the Flemish Community the possibility to capitalise on an opportunity abroad. Click here for more information on a subsidy for an international public presentation.
- An international artist-in-residence allowance offers an artist involved in the art scene within the Flemish Community the possibility to concentrate for a period of time on his/her artistic development. Artists selected for an artist-in-residence allowance will get an intervention in living and travel expenses. An international artist-in-residence allowance is only accessible for artists residing in Flanders or Brussels.
Cultural Heritage Flemish Parliament Act
As an important cultural heritage policy instrument, this Act enables qualitative ‘safeguarding and making accessible’ cultural heritage in Flanders. It contains rules on the basis of which the Government of Flanders supports and funds the cultural heritage field:
- Quality label: Museums, cultural archives or heritage libraries which meet minimal quality standards can be recognized by the Flemish Community.
- Funding: Museums, cultural archives, heritage libraries and cultural heritage expert organizations can receive multi-annual structural funding, provided they satisfy the conditions and criteria laid down in the Act. They can also apply for temporary project funding for projects of Flemish/international relevance.
- Institutions of the Flemish Community: Museums, founded or managed by the Flemish Community, are designated “Institutions of the Flemish Community” by the Government of Flanders.
- The interface centre for cultural heritage: The Government of Flanders recognizes an organization that supports the implementation of cultural heritage policy. Faro, the Flemish interface centre for cultural heritage, builds bridges between the Government of Flanders and many organizations and institutions in the field. It focuses on the support and development of practices and knowledge, representation/image-building, communication and outreach initiatives for the public, such as the yearly Heritage Day.
Items of Exceptional Significance
Flemish Community Collection
The art collection of the Flemish Community consists of about 19 000 works of art. The collection is spread throughout several museums and public institutions in Flanders and Brussels. The purchasing policy is mainly focused on the acquisition of key cultural property that can occupy a prominent position in the collections of museums and heritage institutions in Flanders. A work of art from the collection can be given on loan for exhibitions both home and abroad if the conditions for its preservation allow it.
Intangible cultural heritage
Following the ratification of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of ICH in 2006 and the publication of the operational directives in 2008, the Flemish Community immediately launched an Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Flanders. An annual call for proposals by groups and communities, assisted by recognized heritage organizations, yielded a gradually growing list of phenomena. The inventory soon proved to raise awareness on safeguarding ICH, in particular when several items on that list were subsequently inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
A comprehensive vision paper “A Policy for Intangible Cultural Heritage in Flanders” was published in 2010. It combined 21st century experiences in cultural heritage work in Flanders (with emphasis on networking, participatory methods, strategic planning, investments in experts, empowerment of volunteer organizations, …). The vision paper outlines the key parameters of future policy, putting focus on the dynamic character of ICH and therefore on safeguarding it for the future, rather than emphasizing the roles it played in the past. The vision paper was developed following a bottom-up approach involving communities and NGOs. It establishes “heritage communities” and groups as the key actors in all safeguarding efforts, with the Government assuming a facilitating and supporting role.