Report creation date: 14.10.2008 - 09:50
Countr(y/ies): Belgium
Chapter(s): 1,2,21,22,23,24,241,242,243,244,245,246,3,31,32,33,4,41,42,421,422,423,424,425,426,427,428,429,4210,43,5,51,511,512,513,514,515,516,517,518,519,52,53,531,532,533,534,535,536,537,538,539,5310,6,61,62,63,64,7,71,72,73,8,81,811,812,813,82,821,822,83,831,832,84,841,842,9,91,92

Belgium/ 1. Historical perspective: cultural policies and instruments

As in other European countries, the field of cultural policies in Belgium developed following the Second World War and was mainly focussed on promoting universal, democratic values. A framework for culture policies was completed towards the end of the sixties and was centred on objectives of cultural democracy. Instruments of cultural policy were, in most cases, grants allocated to non-governmental organisations and not-for-profit associations.Brussels, Grand Place

Cultural policies are governed by the principle of subsidiarity whereby the state does not directly intervene, in principle, in cultural matters other than through general regulation and awarding of grants.

Subsidiarity, a principle enshrined in the international cultural development context, was adopted in Belgium not only out of a reaction against fascist activities running throughout the Second World War, but also to set itself apart from the communist countries (state culture) and from the United States (culture regulated by the market rather than by the state).

Since the 1970s, Belgium has undergone a step by step process towards building a federal state made up of territorial regions and linguistic communities. The history of cultural policies since the 1970s can therefore be looked at by examining the activities of the three independent linguistic communities (Flemish, French and German speaking communities) and that of the Federal state; each with their own independent institutions, traditions and political influences.

Flemish Community

Up to the 1980s, the policies of the successive ministers of culture, who were of a Christian-Democrat persuasion, were geared towards the "democratisation of culture". During this time, basic provisions like cultural centres and libraries were provided for throughout the territory of Flanders. Political decisions were taken to subsidise initiatives in the field of adult education and youth work.

During the period 1981-1992, there was an economic crisis in Flanders. With regard to culture, this was reflected in an actual reduction of the overall budget. Cultural institutions were the target of such cuts and were required to generate their own income. This new trend was not wholly based on purely liberal principles of the ruling political parties (and ministers of culture) but rather by a management-oriented trend that also continued under subsequent ministers of the Christian-Democrat political persuasion.

Throughout most of the 1990s, Ministers of Culture (Christian-Democrats) focussed their attention both on the traditional arts and on socio-cultural activities. Legislation was passed in the fields of the performing arts, music and museums which outlined the role of the government as well as criteria for their involvement. Policies were developed for block periods which provided the sector with greater legal security and allowed for longer term planning. This approach reflects the culture management trend.

The former government (1999-2004) was a coalition of Liberals, Social Democrats, the Green Party and the Democratic Flemish Nationalists, with a Minister of Culture belonging to the latter. With the new government came a considerable increase in the budget for culture and a new cultural policy strategy which is aimed at establishing an "integrated" or mainstreamed policy for Flanders in the fields of the arts, cultural heritage and socio-cultural activities. This approach is aimed at a more streamlined system for creativity, dissemination, preservation and support structures for culture and replaces individual, sector based policies, by a more comprehensive legal framework. In addition, Flanders is pursuing co-operation between different levels of government - the government of Flanders, the provinces and the municipalities based on the principles of complementarity and subsidiarity. The new policy also devotes a great deal of attention to increasing rates of cultural participation.

The current Minister of Culture was also responsible for culture from 1999-2002, which will result in previous decisions being further implemented and developed in the coming years.

French Community

Inspired by the work of the Council of Europe in the 1970s, the French speaking Community of Belgium laid down the foundations for the creation of a permanent democratic cultural and educational policy. Subsequently, the 1970s and 1980s together were to mark the beginning of a new era in the development of a large number of regulations in the following fields: continuing adult education, public libraries, youth, cultural centres, establishment of community television, support for group expression and creativity, funding of action-theatre, more direct communication with the public on their social expectations and complaints.

In parallel, support to large classic cultural and artistic institutions is maintained, and represents a significant share of the cultural budget.

At the end of the Eighties and throughout the Nineties, there was a trend to promote the autonomous development of specific sectors including heritage, artistic disciplines (music, theatre, dance, and the visual arts), continuing education, youth, audio-visual, literature and the book trade. The result was a strengthening of their respective internal structures, modernised and professional strategies and new relationships on an international level.

German-speaking Community

In contrast to the autonomy granted to the French and Flemish speaking communities in the 1970s constitutional reform process, the German speaking community was initially granted limited authority, including in the field of culture. During the course of its establishment throughout the 1980s, the German speaking community acquired its own parliament and government, which led to a significant increase in its authority and influence as well as to the establishment of new structures. Today, this linguistic community consists of 70 000 inhabitants and has achieved a political rank which is equivalent to the other two communities.

It was mainly during the 1990s that the legal foundations for culture and sport were laid down or revised, in particular, supporting organisations active in the field of youth, adult education and libraries. Guidelines for infrastructure policy have recently been completed and the government has elaborated new strategies in the field of media policies and legislation covering public and private radio and television.

Future priorities continue to focus on youth, culture, media and adult education. Authorities have agreed to pay closer attention to creativity or artistic quality and increasing cultural professionalism (management) as well as cultural participation by young people. Other goals include the development of a legal framework for scientific surveying and administrative structures to maintain cultural heritage sites and monuments.

In the area of the media, the challenges in the next few years are to further develop the regional audiovisual and television landscape and expand online services.

Belgium/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.1 Organisational structure (organigram)

Flemish Community

Since 1 April 2006, the Flemish public administration system has undergone major transformations.

The main tasks are now organised on the basis of 13 policy areas, one of which is "Culture, Youth, Sport and Media".

There are two Ministers assigned to this policy area: the Minister of Culture (also responsible for youth and sport) and the Minister for Media.

Each of the 13 policy areas are accompanied by:

So far, no strategic advisory council for Culture, Youth, Sport and Media has been set up. Meanwhile, the 7 former Councils - Culture, the Arts, Cultural Dissemination, Youth, Sport, Media and the Committee of Appeal - continue to function as advisory bodies on strategic policy issues and plans for cultural policy.

Immovable cultural heritage belongs to the policy area "Town and Country Planning, Housing Policy and Immovable Heritage". Formal art education comes under "Education and Training".

French Community

Community level

Department for Arts Education which supervises all public arts schools of the Community and allocates funds to institutions that are dependent on the Community (e.g. Art academies) as well as grants to independent schools.

A General Commission for International Relations was created during the 1980s as a special administrative structure for international relations

Regional level:

Some cultural competencies are ensured by the Regions via:

·        Brussels-Capital Region: French Community Commission (Cocof);

·        Walloon Region: Department of Town planning, Housing and Heritage- Heritage Division: Protection, Restoration and Archaeology

The Regions also take in charge matters that are of significant importance for the cultural development: tourism, national and regional development, the development of urban and rural life, social integration, employment, economy, new technologies, etc.

Provincial and local level

Each province and many towns and communes develop (their own) cultural policies. In some areas, such as arts centres and libraries, these policies are devised between the French Community, the provinces and the communes.

The French Community offers culture-contracts to provinces and communes who want them. The aim of these contracts is to coordinate every levels of authority for the cultural policies conducted in the area.

German-speaking Community

The cultural portfolio forms part of the Cultural Affairs Department of the Ministry for the German-speaking Community. In addition to cultural affairs, the Cultural Affairs Department also administers the areas of youth, continuing and adult Education, media, sport, tourism, monument and countryside protection and archaeological excavations.

The culture portfolio encompasses the arts (music, theatre, dance, plastic and visual arts, and literature), cultural centres, museums, historical research, protection and preservation of moveable cultural heritage, folklore, cultural initiatives and projects together with inter-Community and international cooperation.

Certain transversal subject-areas are administered by the general offices of the Ministry, such as infrastructure and certain activities in the area of foreign relations.

Organisational chart

Ministry of the German-speaking Community

General Secretariat

Department for Cultural Affairs

Belgium/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.2 Overall description of the system

Belgium is a federal country which is divided into 3 regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels) and 3 linguistic communities (Flemish, French and German speaking communities), each with their competence for self-governance. The Regions are responsible for matters relating to territory including economy, environment, housing and employment.  The Communities are responsible for culture, education, some aspects of health and welfare, language usage and inter-community co-operation. The Regions and Communities have competence in the area of international co-operation and are authorised to engage in international agreements and sign treaties.

Each Region and Community is organised on the basis of a legislative power (Council) and an executive power (government headed by a minister-president). In Flanders there is one government for both the Region and the Community which also covers the Dutch-speaking population in Brussels. In the French speaking area of Belgium there is a government and a council for both the region and the community (with equal status) which includes the French-speaking population in Brussels.

The Federal state is responsible for cultural institutions of national importance (see 2.1), as well as for certain policy areas including labour law, social security, taxation, and intellectual property rights. The Regions are responsible for monuments and sites and conservation of archaeological monuments. Basic principles for cultural policy to be followed by all 3 communities are laid out in the Cultural Pact Act of 1973 which is administered by the Federal state. It also sets out a compulsory consultative process, including the setting up of Councils or Commissions, to ensure that all political and philosophical voices are heard and integrated into policy development and implementation.

Flemish Community

The aim of the current cultural policy is to achieve a relationship with the provinces and municipalities which is based on the principles of subsidiarity and complementarity. A recent example of this policy-in-action is the Decree on Local Cultural Policy. Another example is the "heritage covenant", provided by the Heritage Act: this is a covenant between the Flemish Community and local authorities, or a partnership of neighbouring local authorities or the Brussels Region. The Flemish Community offers a general framework for heritage policy, with enough possibilities for the local authority to adapt it to the local situation.

The government of Flanders has entered into an experiment which sets up "Covenants" with certain cities in the field of cultural heritage. At this moment, the Flemish government, municipalities and provinces are negotiating a division of responsibilities which will lead to the ratification of Covenants (see 7.1).

French Community

The French Community exercises its competence over the territories of Wallonia and Brussels, the latter of which is home to the majority of cultural institutions and associations in French-speaking Belgium. Over the past decade, the government has been examining means to decentralise responsibility for cultural institutions in Wallonia and for more equitable division with Brussels. They have devised their cultural policies to reinforce partnership with the towns, municipalities and rural areas via special contracts in fields such as cultural centres, libraries, youth and continuing education organisations, community centres of expression and creativity, youth centres, regional drama centres, community television stations, and reception and production units.

German-speaking Community

Due to its size, the German-speaking Community is generally able to develop and carry out a cultural policy which closely reflects the needs of its citizens and the community. Thanks to its extensive degree of autonomy, it has the necessary freedom of action to develop its identity through socio-cultural events, while at the same time building up its national presence through the promotion of high-quality cultural products and productions.

The Constitution of Belgium grants a transfer of regional authority through the Walloon Region to the German-speaking Community. In the cultural field, responsibility for monuments and landscape protection (1994) and excavation (2000) has already been transferred to the Community to allow for better self-administration. Also in 2001, the exercise of powers in the area of employment was transferred, as a result of which the German-speaking Community's room for negotiation in the socio-cultural area was indirectly enlarged. On 1 January 2005, there followed a transfer of supervisory powers over local authorities; these relate to the nine German-speaking boroughs that constitute the German-speaking Community.

Belgium/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

Inter-ministerial co-operation, whether at the federal, regional or community level, takes place between Ministers in the following fields that have an impact on cultural policy: foreign affairs, education, employment, environment, media, mobility, tourism, etc.

Official inter-community co-operation takes place between the French Community and the German-speaking Community, the French Community and the French Community Commission in Brussels, and between the Flemish Community and the German-speaking Community.

At present, there is no co-operation agreement between the Flemish and French-speaking Communities.

Flemish Community

The Flemish government acts as a Board of Governors for inter-ministerial co-operation. In principle, decisions are taken by mutual agreement between ministries.

Consultation takes place between the Minister for Culture and the Minister for Work, Education and Training (concerning Lifelong Learning), the Minister for Tourism, the Minister for Foreign Policy, the Minister for the Economy (in view of a policy for cultural industries). In the framework of the Flemish government, the Minister for Culture is a discussion partner, with the Minister for Media (which is the main actor), where cultural matters are concerned, in elaborating a management agreement with the public broadcasting company.

French Community

In 2004, the government of the French Community decided to implement a Strategic Plan for the coordination of policies related to the promotion of equal opportunities for men and women, for inter-culture, and for social inclusion. These three inter-sectorial, transversal priorities thereby concern the full range of its competencies: culture, education, sport, youth care, social affairs and health prevention.

In a first phase, which is currently under way, an inventory is conducted. This inventory lists, for each sector and for each priority, the status of the concerned legislations, the history of the issue, the general objectives guiding the action, ongoing projects, the related budget, the evaluation, and the perspectives (prospects).

German-speaking Community

The German-speaking Community has concluded co-operation agreements with the French Community and with the Flemish Community, as well as with the Walloon Region and the Province of Liège. These agreements govern the cooperation of the partners in all corresponding areas of responsibility (cultural affairs, personal / social matters, teaching / training, employment). Special agreements have been signed with the French Community, including for cultural and audiovisual matters.

Belgium/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends

Since 1993, the Communities have enjoyed self-government in terms of international relations, which allows them to enter into agreements not only with states, but also with regions or provinces of foreign countries. The Community Ministers responsible for culture rotate their participation on European Councils and international bodies.

Flemish Community

Major trends in recent years:

In his speech of 2 September 2005, the Minister for Culture, Bert Anciaux, announced some new priorities and actions with regard to international cultural policy such as:

French Community

In 1993, the French Community set up a public body to be solely responsible for international relations (General Commission for the International Relations of the French Community of Belgium - GCIR). This body is mandated to carry out the French Community's foreign policy, and for administrating cultural agreements signed with other countries, regions or provinces of foreign countries. The GCIR develops its own priorities for the promotion and dissemination of culture and the arts created in the French Community, for multilateral action with UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the European Union (and associated bodies), with industrialised or otherwise French-speaking countries, for more strategic action towards countries in the South, and for youth exchange policies.

Belgium/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

Flemish Community

In principle, the Flemish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Ministerie Internationaal Vlaanderen) has no cultural competence. Yet, the Ministry is responsible for "image building" abroad. In the case of promotion through cultural events, the Ministry for Culture is consulted.

Flanders has concluded several international conventions, co-operation and cultural agreements with various countries and regions. Special attention has been given to co-operation with the new EU-member states. The present Minister of Culture has set out priority programmes with 5 specific countries or regions: the Netherlands, South-Africa, China, Morocco and the French Community in Belgium.

There is no intention to elaborate a network of publicly mandated cultural agencies and institutes abroad. There is just one Flemish Cultural House abroad: "De Brakke Grond" in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

In 2004, the Flemish-Dutch House "De Buren" was inaugurated in Brussels. It was given the task of presenting and documenting the culture of the Low Countries and of providing a platform for debate on culture, society and politics in the Netherlands, Flanders and Europe. In May 2006, the Flemish Community and Morocco signed an agreement to set up a Flemish-Moroccan House for Culture in Brussels, with a focus on intercultural dialogue.

Bilateral co-operation between the Flemish Community and the Netherlands is the first priority, not only in terms of internal exchange and co-operation between them, but to act jointly on external relations, e.g. the "Taalunie", the Dutch Language Union. The latter was founded in 1980 as an inter-governmental organisation representing the Netherlands and the Flemish Community. In 2004, Surinam became an associate member of the Union. Its mandate is to jointly promote the Dutch language and literature in the Dutch-speaking area and abroad.

Another priority is the recent collaboration with South-Africa. It involves an integrated project covering all the cultural competences of the Minister of Culture (i.e., youth, arts, cultural heritage, socio-cultural work for adults), concentrated in four community centres in South-Africa.

Flanders has a network of diplomatic Flemish Representations: in the Netherlands, France (also competent for UNESCO, OECD, Council of Europe), the UK, Germany, Austria (also competent for Hungary, Czech Republic), the USA, South Africa (also competent for Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland), and the European Union. Under certain conditions, these Flemish Representations can support or set up cultural events with funding provided by the Ministry for Culture.

French Community

To carry its missions to a successful conclusion (see also 2.4.1), the General Commission for the International Relations of the French Community of Belgium works with specialised agencies, which are managed jointly with the Ministry for the French Community: Wallonia-Brussels Music (WBM), Wallonia-Brussels Images (WBI), Wallonia-Brussels Theatre (WBT - Cultural Contact Point, in charge of the European programme Culture 2000), the International Youth Bureau (BIJ) and the Quebec Wallonia-Brussels Agency for Youth.

In addition to these specialised agencies, Wallonia-Brussels delegations relay the action of the French Community abroad, in particular in Berlin, Warsaw, Prague, Bucharest, Rabat, Tunis, Algiers, Dakar, Kinshasa, Quebec, Santiago of Chile, and Hanoï. In Paris, the General Delegation is more specifically in charge of the diplomatic relations with France and with international organisations based in Paris.

Belgium/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.3 European / international actors and programmes

Flemish Community

Multilateral co-operation remains a major issue, especially in dealing with the European Union, the Council of Europe, UNESCO and informal networks like the International Network on Cultural Policy.

The Flemish UNESCO Trust Fund, financed by the Flemish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, contributes to UNESCO projects, including cultural projects. In some cases, extra money was provided, as was the case for the reconstruction of a museum in Iraq.

Several ministries are responsible for implementing and monitoring the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Not only are the Federal Ministries for Foreign Affairs and for Economy involved in this process, but also the Flemish Ministry for Culture and the Flemish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The Minister of Culture is involved in the implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Intangible Heritage (17/10/2003), in the adoption of the UNESCO Convention of 1970 on the regulations against illegal export of cultural goods and is also responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The Minister of Culture is also involved in the ratification of the Framework Convention of the Council of Europe on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (27/10/2005).

French Community

In Geneva, the Wallonia-Brussels Delegation represents the French Community at the United Nations Office and specialised agencies (WCO, WHO, UNAIDS, HCR, OIM, UNESCO, UNHCHR, UNESCO, ILO, OMPI,). In Brussels, the Delegation to the European Union, the Human Rights Delegation and the Delegation to International Audiovisual Issues and AGCS-related issues complete the network.

In the area of the French language, the French Community, through the CGRI, joined the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Alliance Française to create the European Centre for the French language (CELF) aimed at the European public based in Brussels.

Belgium/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.4 Direct professional co-operation

Information is currently not available.

Belgium/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.5 Cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation

Flemish Community

A "Local Cultural Policy Project" (2003-2005) was set up in 6 municipalities in South Africa in order to develop a local cultural policy and which also had the following aims: strengthening active citizenship and social networking and intensifying social-economic activities by local cultural stakeholders. Experiences can be passed on to other municipalities. Workshops on strategic planning were also set up in South Africa, and study visits to Flanders were organised.

In 2007-2009, a direct extensive collaboration will be set up with a limited number of community / arts / youth local centres selected in the provinces of Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal, Free State and Western Cape. The collaboration will be realised through extending and exchanging programmes, capacity building, establishing strong local networks, stimulating civil society organisations, and cultural and artistic exchange. All projects will be set up around the experiences of young people from different fields that can vary from arts education, to heritage, performing and visual arts, youth work, project management or capacity building.

French Community

The French Community has its own delegation within the summits of French-speaking Heads of State.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section

Belgium/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.6 Other relevant issues

Flemish Community

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs subsidises the VIW, "Vlamingen in de Wereld", which is an active network of Flemings worldwide.

German-speaking Community

The German-speaking Community is actively engaged in building and enlarging its own foreign relations. Due to the size of the Community (854 km²) and the number of its population (70 000), this cooperation is mainly directed at other German speaking regions, or European autonomous regions of comparable size. The main focus is the direct transborder neighbouring regions, such as the German Bundesländer Rhineland-Palatinate and Northrhine-Westfalia, Luxembourg or the Netherlands.

The German-speaking Community has signed bilateral agreements with 7 European states: Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Italy (South Tyrol). Many of these agreements are based on accords previously drawn up by the then Belgian central state; some have been complemented by individual agreements, some have been changed to structurally accommodate the new distribution of competences, others simply remain with their original wording and action. Most of them, while referring to cultural agreements, define culture widely to include education, sports and science.

Two multilateral agreements have been drawn up on regional basis; they are founded on the Euro region structure, which has been consolidated over the past years in European transborder regions. One is the Euregio Maas-Rhein, which includes regions in three countries (Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands), the other the European Greater Region Saar-Lor-Lux, with Luxembourg and regions from Belgium, France and Germany.

The German-speaking Community of Belgium is represented since 1994 in the EU Committee of the Regions through its president. It also participates in the Initiative of Regions with legislative Competences, which includes Flanders, the Walloon Region, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Salzburg, Scotland and Catalonia. Furthermore, it participates in the Advisory Inter-parliamentary Committee of the Benelux-States and the Advisory Congress on Municipalities and Regions in Europe.

Belgium/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.1 Main elements of the current cultural policy model

Flemish Community

In the 1990s, the system of long term policy planning was introduced in Flanders. This meant that each Minister presented a five year plan outlining the activities and long term objectives for the coming period. The specific details of these plans are spelled out in yearly "policy letters".

The principle of political primacy applies in Flanders. This means that the minister is advised by advisory bodies and the administration, but the final decision is in the hands of the minister or the government. The minister can either accept or reject this advice, but must provide significant justification in the case of the latter.

The advisory system is divided into two separate parts: one concerning strategic advice and the other is concerning specific advice on the allocation of subsidies.

With the implementation of the Arts Decree and the Cultural Heritage Decree in 2004, the advice structure changed for both domains. There is an advisory body for both arts and cultural heritage as well as various assessment committees for the evaluation of subsidy requests. Both advisory bodies have a general advisory task and must guard the smooth operation of quality assessment.

There is also an advisory body for adult education and culture dissemination, with sectoral advisory bodies.

On July 9th 2003, the Flemish Parliament approved a Decree Concerning Strategic Advisory Councils (see 2.1). A strategic advisory council will be set up for each "homogeneous policy area", such as "culture, youth, media and sports". This strategic advisory council will provide advice on policy proposals (based on its own initiative or in response to requests from the government) and legal counsel on planned legislation. It will replace the present advisory bodies having a general advisory task.

There are, however, two policy model exceptions. In 2000, a Literature Fund was set up to implement the government's literature policy and to grant subsidies. In 2002, the Flemish Audiovisual Fund was established to support and promote audiovisual creations. Both funds have reached a management agreement with the Flemish government. These exceptions should not be mistaken for the existence of a comprehensive system of cultural funds which make decisions independent of the government.

During the last legislative period, the government enacted a series of "support centres" designed to undertake supporting activities for the cultural sector on the one side, and on the other side to act as intermediary between the cultural sector and government, by informing the sector on cultural policy and by informing the government on tendencies and expectations in the sector. Each support centre has an agreement with the government for a period of four to five years.

Concerning the division of responsibilities there is a movement towards more autonomy by elaborating policy plans and concluding covenants. For heritage, this has already resulted in 13 covenants (10 with a municipality, 2 with a partnership of neighbouring local authorities, and 1 with the Brussels Region).

French Community

The French Community exercises its competence over the territories of Wallonia and Brussels, the latter of which was home to the majority of cultural institutions and associations in French-speaking Belgium. Over the past decade, the government has been examining means to decentralise responsibility for cultural institutions in Wallonia and for more equitable division with Brussels. They have devised their cultural policies to reinforce partnership with the towns, municipalities and rural areas via special contracts in fields such as cultural centres, libraries, youth and continuing education organisations, community centres of expression and creativity, youth centres, regional drama centres, community television stations, and reception and production units.

The cultural model of the French Community widely rests on the principle of subsidiarity: support to initiatives led by cultural associations or operators. This support is organised by decrees that define the conditions of access, of granting, and of the justification of subsidies.

This model is currently under heavy criticism, but is not fundamentally questioned. The main difficulty that arises from this subsidiarity policy is that an increasing number of beneficiaries obtain recurrent support. As the budgets are limited, beneficiaries only obtain insufficient means to successfully carry out their projects.

The representative function plays an important role in the enforcement of cultural policies. There are over 30 consultative bodies or commissions which advise the Minister and submit proposals or recommendations during policy making processes and in the selection of projects.

German-speaking Community

The German-speaking Community mainly support non-profit organisations, clubs and municipalities in the following four ways:

The promotional policy pursued by the German-speaking Community constitutes the basis for its cultural work and is presently governed by a variety of orders, decrees and circulars. Most of the rules date from the 1980s and 1990s and have hitherto been applied piecemeal to the needs of players in the cultural field. The government's aim is to scrutinise the rules in thorough detail and redraft them from the ground up.

The government that was installed in 2004 has drawn up a catalogue of concrete measures for implementing its programme. The most important measure in the cultural area is a renewal of the concept of cultural support and the drafting of a set of rules that at one and the same time reduced administrative expenditure to a minimum and are easy for cultural players to implement. The leeway thus opened up in terms of what can be done and its financial ramifications mean that it is possible to pay greater heed to the needs for multi-faceted cultural activities that cover a multitude of different areas and to construct lasting cooperation.

Conscious as it is of the growing importance of audiovisual and electronic media, the provision of media skills and the offering of online media services form the core of the Community's media policies. Expansion of the media presence of the German-speaking Community and adjustment of the legislation in line with European directives are further goals.

Belgium/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.2 National definition of culture

The national definition of culture, enshrined under the 1971 third constitutional review, covers the following fields:

Successive governmental reforms have had their effect on culture, especially the transfer of new cultural competence from the state to the communities in the fields of training (especially artistic education), radio and television advertising and support for the press.

The following powers have been handed over to the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels district:

Belgium/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.3 Cultural policy objectives

Cultural policy objectives are based on the principles of political and cultural democracy. Reference to human rights and pluralist democracy is a common fixture of all regulation and policies. Priority is accorded to cultural participation and creativity that are explicitly enshrined in this rationale as well as to the protection and promotion of a tolerant European culture, open to the world, intrinsically diverse and respectful of the minorities that contribute to global cultural development.

Belgium and its Communities have always played an active role within the Council of Europe to such an extent that many of the cultural policies developed in Belgium have closely followed the orientations given by the Council of Europe.

Flemish Community

Cultural policy in the Flemish Community is based on the following values:

Core responsibilities of Flemish authorities in the field of professional arts, cultural heritage, socio-cultural youth work and adult work, are:

French Community

The cultural policy of the French-speaking Community is built on nine fundamental and relatively transversal axes which include:

In 2005, the Secretary of Culture launches the "General States of Culture", a debate on the cultural policy with cultural key players in the French community (see 4.1)

German-speaking Community

Art and cultural heritage are two main branches in the area of culture. Whilst literature is a part of culture, libraries and the promotion of reading, cinemas, radio and television and press assistance fall within the area of the media.

The German-speaking Community promotes:

Promotional work is mainly affected by way of subsidies. Further possibilities are holding events (exhibitions, competitions, and readings), effecting or brokering cooperation or the purchase of artwork. A particular stance is taken by the Media Centre of the German-speaking Community, which carries out measures to promote reading, offers media awareness and media courses, maintains a multimedia workshop and produces television programming.

Belgium/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

Flemish Community

Cultural policy objectives were defined in the cultural policy document for the years 2004-2009. The main priorities are:

In addition to the priorities listed above, the following policy priorities remain important:

Cultural policy in Flanders has been focussed in recent years on greater transparency through the introduction of new policy instruments which include:

For a number of years, attempts have been made to give cultural policy a scientific basis through the work of the Unit for Cultural Policy in the Culture Section of the Ministry and externally commissioned studies. Scientific research on culture and cultural policy has received a new impulse with the founding of a support centre Re-Creatief Vlaanderen, a consortium of academic research units belonging to the universities of Ghent, Louvain, Brussels (VUB) and the Europese Hogeschool Brussel (EHSAL). Their research focuses on different aspects of cultural practice and participation.

French Community

Main priorities for cultural policy in recent years revolve around the following overarching themes:

Recently, new priorities have appeared:

The "General States of Culture"

The current government of the French community (2004-2009) has decided to implement the General States of Culture: a participative process for the setting-up of a global cultural policy that works by objectives.

An intersector debate, decompartmentalised and transversal, is opened to all cultural key players, as well as to all the political and administrative players across every level of authority. Each player is invited to propose written contributions. Thematic meetings are organised in decentralisation.

The following objectives are announced:

German-speaking Community

A main issue is the promotion of the linguistic and cultural characteristics of the German speaking community, which form the basis of its institutional autonomy.

The associations working at the basic levels of cultural life, i.e. adult education, youth work, media and folklore have been given an institutional foundation; their dissemination and development are financially supported.

Arts and cultural heritage receive financial support. An important instrument here is the transfer of competencies for cultural and natural heritage (02-02-1994) and archaeological sites (01-01-2000) to the German-speaking Community by the Walloon Region. Buildings and landscapes worth protecting could be classified and modalities for the restorations of protected buildings through public funds were agreed upon.

The public Broadcasting and Television Centre of the German-speaking Community operates a TV station since 1999 and opened his own second radio channel in 2002.

A major part of the policy is cooperation with the other Communities in Belgium, neighbouring regions and other EU Member states in all the aforementioned areas.

Belgium/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.1 Cultural minorities, groups and communities

Flemish Community

Belgium does not have official minorities. "Minority" is used in another context, namely in the context of ethnic-cultural minorities. The Flemish Parliament approved a Decree for a policy in this field in 1998 (28 April 1998). The Decree describes ethnic-cultural minorities as the whole of allochthonous people, refugees, caravan dwellers and groups of foreigners in Belgium without a legal residence permit and those requesting relief or assistance due to their emergency situation. The minority policy is a three-track policy: an emancipation policy focussed on the integration of the target groups, a reception policy and a relief policy.

In the meantime the policy course has changed. The strategic 2004-2010 minority policy plan points out that a catch-up operation is necessary to deal with (and prevent) the existing backlog. This operation is a priority in the fields of employment and education. But the first objective is to promote the coexistence in diversity with the entire population. More explicitly than before, the minority policy departs from common values that characterise an open, tolerant and democratic society.

The starting point is an inclusive approach, based on the equal treatment of everyone, but the emphasis will lie on consciously dealing with differences. This is translated into the following strategic objectives:

The first objective entails that the Flemish government and the subsidised institutes will be organised in such a way that they can deal with diversity by 2010, which translates to the make-up of staff and management, in communication and service.

According to the second objective, the cultural offer must be sufficiently diverse by 2010 so, among others, ethnic-cultural minorities can identify with the offer.

Interculturality and intercultural competence are central concepts in the 2004-2009 cultural policy document. Interculturality and cultural diversity are pushed forward as challenges for all cultural sectors. On the other hand, there is policy measures specifically geared to this. For example, from 2000 onwards, money has been put aside for socio-artistic projects, attempting to increase the emancipation and integration of certain groups through cultural competence. The arts decree provides structural long-term subsidies for socio-artistic organisations as well as project subsidies. The support centres have been ordered to pay attention to the promotion of cultural diversity. The Local Cultural Policy Decree focuses on promoting cultural diversity and working with specific target groups for cultural centres and community centres.

It is currently unclear how the realisation of these policy intentions will be followed up. There is little available research regarding the current situation. How and to what extent subsidised institutes will be assessed in this regard is one of the subjects of the "interculturality" trajectory that started in 2005 (see 4.2.3).

French Community

Support measures are not based on certain cultural groups, but rather on the diversity of cultures and artistic disciplines.

There are many cultural associations for minority communities in the sectors of continuing education and youth. The principle objectives of several of these associations are to provide information to their constituents on the protection of their rights and to help develop minority cultures.

Because the populations and the associations concerned do not spontaneously exploit the mechanisms that can support their projects, the department of continuous education defined an action plan focused on the support to cultural diversity and to intercultural actions. Priority is given to training projects, equal opportunity projects, and social and cultural identity constructions for the youth.

In the area of world music and of performing arts, specific attention is given to artists and groups of immigrant origin.

Inter-culture is a priority for the current government of the French Community (see 2.3). An inventory implemented and proposals are under development.

The RTBF, public service broadcaster of the French Community, is obligated to ensure that its programmes are of high quality and reflect the diversity of its audiences - including meeting the expectations of the socio-cultural minorities of the community regardless of race, sex, ideology, philosophy or religion. Broadcasts are considered as a factor of social cohesion and should therefore not lead to social segregation.

German-speaking Community

Whether one speaks of minor urban or rural districts in the German-speaking Community, many places are seeing a high number of incomers from non-European states. However, the situation varies from borough to borough, so that each has developed its own measures, which are both social and e.g. cultural in nature.

For its part, the German-speaking Community supports initiatives by private-sector associations to advance integration. Above all in the area of continuing and adult education, recognised organisations have constructed a varied and comprehensive offering that includes literacy courses, language programmes, international events and more.

Belgium/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.2 Language issues and policies

Language is one of the fundamental bases structuring Belgium society. In addition to the 3 official linguistic communities, there is a plurality of languages in use throughout the country by the many immigrant communities. As the capital of Europe, Brussels is a multilingual city.

Flemish Community

The Dutch Language Union was founded in 1980 as an inter-governmental organisation representing the Netherlands and the Flemish Community. In 2004, Surinam became an associate member of the Union. Its mandate is to jointly promote the Dutch language and literature in the Dutch-speaking area and abroad. Standardisation of the Dutch language (spelling, grammar, terminology, and the new speech-processing technologies) is one area under the responsibility of the Union. Several projects have been set up to promote knowledge of the Dutch language among "new citizens" to the area.

French Community

A specific department has a goal of defending and diffusing the French language. This department develops three main types of action:

There are several other mother-tongue languages in use throughout Wallonia other than French. An endogenous language department brings support at the literary, linguistic and education levels.

There is significant cooperation on language issues with linguistic organisations in France, Quebec and French-speaking community in Switzerland.

The French Community is a member of the French-Speaking Agency and actively participates in its activities, especially on projects related to cultural diversity with other French-speaking countries.

German-speaking Community

Protection of and giving prominence to the German language in public life is a field for which the German-speaking Community could yet expand its services in future.

Use of languages in teaching is extensively determined by the statutory language status of the boroughs of the German-language area, which all have language facilities for the French-speaking population. In this regard, the Decree of 19 April 2004 on the Instrumentality and Use of Languages in Teaching makes it possible under certain conditions to set up primary schools in which French or Dutch is the teaching language and then German the first foreign language and to allow secondary schools to allocate subject teaching up to 50% or 65% in French.

The Belgian Radio and Television Centre of the German-speaking Community (BRF), instituted by Act of 18 July 1979, has a remit to offer public radio and television broadcasting services in German and currently has two radio stations and one television channel. Legal entities that broadcast radio or television programmes are obliged to ensure protection of and prominence to the German language in their broadcasts by moderating a certain proportion (75%) of their broadcasts in German.

A further initiative for ensuring prominence to the German language is the prizes awarded by the Council of the German-speaking Community:

The linguistic exchange between the German-speaking Community and the other two Communities is regulated by the agreements on co-operation. This exchange concerns both the area of culture and media and youth policy and teaching.

Belgium/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.3 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

Flemish Community

Since 2004, the Flemish government has made "living together in diversity" a priority, out of awareness that the Flemish society is unrecognisably and irrevocably characterised by diversity. When the new government took office in 2004, a new Minister for Civic Integration was appointed for the first time. With the policy "Living together in diversity: a responsibility for each and everyone", the approach to minorities changed from a target group strategy to one which is two-pronged: to promote civic integration and to devise a diversity strategy which deals with the social problems that may result from "living together in diversity".

In the policy document Culture, Youth and Sports 2004-2009, the Flemish Minister of Culture, Bert Anciaux, expressed his intention to set up a plan in order to stimulate the cultural, youth and sport sector to work on interculturalisation. On 20 February 2006 he announced the Flemish Plan of Action for the interculturalisation of, for and by culture, youth work and sport for the 2006-2009 period. This plan of action focuses on one highly specific, yet very important type of diversity and accompanying participation challenges, i.e. that of ethnic-cultural diversity. It is the outcome of a year-long trajectory around "ethnic-cultural diversity" - in collaboration with a number of intermediary organisations - to draw up recommendations and actions relating to ethnic-cultural diversity for policies as well as practice.

Another series of measures relates to the elaboration of a quantitative norm for the diversification of cultural policy and cultural organisations at various levels of the organisational chart: advisory committees, personnel, boards of directors. The standard is put at 10%, since 10% of the population in Flanders has a non-European ethnic-cultural background. This commitment is not limited to the government and its advisory bodies itself, but also to a number of organisations which are relatively close to the government - such as support centres (designed to undertake supporting activities for the cultural sector on the one side, and on the other side to act as intermediary between the cultural sector and government), large cultural houses, trusts, national umbrellas for amateur arts and a number of specific organisations to which the cultural pact applies.

Next to this first, structural trajectory, Flemish Minister Bert Anciaux also proposed a broad range of flanking policy measures. These constitute crucial leverage towards promoting interculturalisation, since they create possibilities for guidance, experimentation and support. A selection of proposed measures:

Support centres (described above) and a number of intermediary organisations are jointly responsible for the implementation of this policy. Through their management agreements with the Flemish government, they are assigned to take action in order to stimulate intercultural processes within their sectors.

In the context of the Action Plan Cultural Diversity covering the sectors of culture, youth and sport, the Vlaams Theater Instituut (VTi, Flemish Theatre Institute) and Kunst en Democratie (Art and Democracy) have set up a collaborative project that will investigate and describe how the arts scene in Flanders and Brussels relates to the increasing diversity in our society. The research concentrates on projects and productions by artists and cultural players in the Flemish-Brussels context. It not only focuses on the end results (productions, performances, etc.), but also on the production process (organisational structure, rehearsals, preparations, relationship towards the public, local preparatory actions, etc.). The results of the research will be published in the spring of 2007.

Artists and cultural agents reflect on the diversity in our society in often-innovative ways and as a result, develop intercultural competencies. The above research project is aimed at sharing these experiences. One result is the publication of a workbook (September 2006), which offers practice-based stories to raise awareness of the broad range of existing methods and strategies to highlight diversity in society. These compelling stories illustrate several issues such as questions of repertoire, the canon and different traditions, possibilities to "step into" an artistic project, interactions during the artistic, (multi)creative process, the organisational chart including business, administrative, technical and / or organisational principles, audience recruitment, relationship with local communities, training, networking. Each domain offers possibilities - not only to work with diversity in society, but also to address potential frictions and thresholds.

A similar approach is followed by two heritage centres: Culturele Biografie Vlaanderen (Cultural Biography Flanders) and the Vlaams Centrum voor Volkscultuur (Flemish Centre for the Study of Popular Culture).

For more information, see:
Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue and our Intercultural Dialogue section.

For more information on the government's National Strategy for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue please see:

Belgium/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.4 Social cohesion and cultural policies

Flemish Community

Developing "community spirit" is a major thread in the Culture, Youth and Sports 2004-2009 policy document. An important link is made between this aspiration and the pursuit of an intercultural society (see 4.2.3).

Another major link has been made to field of socio-artistic practice. These are process-like-activities which focus both on the artistic aspect and the involvement of the participants. Up until a couple of years ago, the contribution of the government was limited to the financing of projects through a special regulation.

During the previous policy period, socio-artistic projects evolved from an experimental regulation to structural support within several policy domains. The Flemish government did not want to create a separate type of work; socio-artistic work was perceived as more of a continuous point of attention within the various policy domains. Since 2006, sector subsidies have been replaced by transversal support and financing, running through local government cultural policies, the Arts Act and the Heritage sector.

Socio-artistic practice offers possibilities for the reinforcement of city and communal patterns of cohabitation. Through the support of the Flemish government, local authorities that are working with a cultural policy plan have provided additional subsidies for such activities.

The Heritage Flemish Parliament Act (2004) offers possibilities for socio-artistic projects that are targeted towards the disclosure of the cultural heritage.

There are several types of support within the framework of the Arts Flemish Parliament Act (2004). Artistic organizations can either opt to take on socio-artistic activities as a major element in their overall activities, and calculate this in their subsidy request, or they can file for an additional project subsidy. Apart from this, organisations specifically targeted towards socio-artistic activities can receive structural subsidies as specified in the Arts Flemish Parliament Act for a period of 2 or 4 years.

The organisation "Kunst en Democratie" (Art and Democracy), which was founded in the 1990s, pays attention to social topics such as the battle against extremism, racism and discrimination, the role of art in situations of exclusion and the responsibility of artists in our democracy. Kunst en Democratie offers support for socio-artistic practice through research and reflection, project coaching, methodological development and policy preparation.

Flemish government subsidies on other levels also focus on community formation and social cohesion. The Flemish government has a budget for participation projects, for example, which try to guide new audience groups towards cultural activities (see 8.2.2). The goal of these participation projects exceeds the singular participation of a large number of people in art and culture; other methods of community formation are also targeted.

Belgium/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.5 Media pluralism and content diversity

Flemish Community

Various large groups balance each other out in the Flemish media sector in its entirety (newspapers, magazines, radio and television). Local concentration movements did not lead to the development of one dominant player. The offer of newspapers, magazines and Flemish radio and television broadcasting services has even grown, despite these concentrations.

The public monopoly for national radio was broken up. With the arrival of national and regional private radio stations a more diverse radio landscape was created.

The high penetration of the Flemish cable (97% of families) is unique in Europe and makes the situation of the Flemish media landscape one of a kind.

The role of the government in this dynamic sector in full development must be one of an objective and moderate regulator and facilitator to protect a balanced and multiform media landscape, where the various market players are able to provide a diverse and high quality offer from which every citizen can choose and has easy access to.

The task of public radio and television (VRT) was determined by decree (coordinated Decree of 25 January 1995). The decree states the objective that the VRT provides a high quality offer in the following sectors: information, culture, education and recreation. The VRT's priority is to bring viewers and listeners focussed information and culture programmes. Sport, modern education, our own drama and recreation are also provided. The VRT and the Flemish government conclude management agreements every five years. These agreements include performance standards for the realisation of the objectives.

The 2002-2006 management agreement between the public broadcasting network and the Flemish Community remains quite vague with regard to cultural assignments. The performance standard in question states that television programming must include a varied range of culture, reaching on average 15% of the population. Another performance standard is that the share of Flemish TV productions and co-productions must be at least 50% of the total programme offer between 6 pm and 11 pm.

The cultural field increasingly became part of the negotiations for the new management agreement starting in 2007. There was a unique collaboration within the cultural field (Flemish Community, support centres, large cultural institutions...) to ensure that more attention would be paid to culture in public broadcasting.

The VRT also has plans to provide enhanced access to its digital archive. These plans are being discussed in collaboration with the cultural heritage sector in Flanders.

French Community

The French Community has thereby adopted some provisions to regulate concentrations, with a view to ensure the respect of the pluralism of the media. The aim of these measures is not to forbid certain types of concentration, but rather of:

Several measures have been taken to avoid the interferences of any unspecified public or private authority in the treatment of information, and thus to ensure the independence, autonomy and responsibility of broadcasters.

Thus, for example, Article 7, §2 of the 14 July 1997 French Community Decree, ruling on the Belgian French Community Radio Television, states that:

"the programmes broadcast by the company that contribute to the information or the education of viewers or listeners, are made in a spirit of objectivity, with no prior censorship or interference from any public or private authority".

Furthermore, as the vocation of the public service is to guarantee the diversity of programmes on offer, including, amongst others, general information programmes, cultural development programmes, etc... regulations were defined in that sense.

The public utility broadcaster in the Belgian French Community must take particular care of the quality and the diversity of programmes, to rally the largest possible audiences while meeting the expectations of socio cultural minorities. These programmes must also reflect the different trends of society, without any form of discrimination, whether cultural, sexual, ideological, etc.

In addition, regulations relating to the contents of the media were taken. The aim of these regulations is to ensure public access to information on service editors, thus allowing the public to make up its own opinion on the origin of the information it receives. These regulations also aim at allowing a control authority to have the necessary information to, on one hand, judge the independence of service editors, and on the other hand, to supervise the activities of the latter in order to ensure the freedom of the public to access to a pluralist offer in the broadcasting services.

Some regulations aim at guaranteeing the pluralism of opinions regarding the information on offer by banning the exclusivity rights of a service editor on certain types of information, and by imposing the obligation of information processing that guarantees a balance between the various existing ideological trends.

German-speaking Community

The Belgian Broadcasting and Television Centre (BRF) is responsible for information, education and entertainment of the audience and has the task to make the German-speaking Community known. Information broadcasts have to be transmitted in compliance with strict objectivity criteria and without previous censure. The management board, which has supervisory responsibility for the Centre, strives for freedom of opinion for the various ideological and philosophical tendencies.

According to the Media Decree, all television providers must ensure the visibility of the German-speaking Community in their programmes. Works from European countries must have a share in the programming; a representative part of them may not be older then 5 years. Private radio broadcasters have to enshrine balanced information that reflects a multitude of views in their programming. Furthermore, they have to put emphasis on culture and artists from the German-speaking Community and the neighbouring regions.

Private individual and legal entities are able under their own responsibility to transmit television programming under certain time limitations. For this purpose, the German-speaking Community has set up a public broadcasting channel under private sponsorship, which offers free, equal access and free, equal use. Access is denied, inter alia, to political parties; sponsored contributions are not permitted.

Belgium/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.6 Culture industries: policies and programmes

Flemish Community

Culture industries are defined as producers or distributors of cultural products or services, the cultural content being of utmost importance for the economic value of the products and / or services; where the actors intend to market the output and to realise a return.

Cultural industry organisations are a major partner in the realisation of certain objectives of the Flemish cultural policy. In certain sectors they are responsible for, for example, the distribution or production of cultural products. Various initiatives have been taken to support these actors within the cultural domain.

The 2004-2009 cultural policy documents announced the development of a market correcting policy and the examination of opportunity and effectiveness of a cultural investment society, as well as project-based support within the existing regulation.

The Arts Decree and the Heritage Decree (see 5.2) offer legal bodies with a commercial character the possibility of requesting project support or support for publications.

Specifically with regard to the audiovisual arts, production investors can lay claim to tax shelter and the Flemish Audiovisual Fund offers production support for audiovisual creations. The management agreement between the government and the public broadcaster (VRT) states that the VRT must also participate in independent Flemish audio-visual productions, e.g., feature films, TV drama and documentaries.

On 31/3/2006, the Flemish government approved a new policy toolbox for companies in the culture industries sector: CultuurInvest. The sectors covered include: new media and computer games, the audiovisual sector and digital design, the music industry and concert scene, design and fashion design, printed media and graphic design, publishing and the book trade, the music and performing arts, and distribution companies within the visual arts sector.

CultuurInvest has three methods of support:

CultuurInvest will also facilitate the further financing of culture entrepreneurs through:

CultuurInvest also intends to provide management support and coaching to cultural entreprenuers.

CultuurInvest will start out with a capital basis of 20 million Euro, derived from the government (50%) and private parties. At the moment discussions are underway with several interested players in the bank and insurance sector. By reinvesting the profits into the sector, CultuurInvest aims to initiate a constantly rolling fund.

CultuurInvest was subsumed under the Participatie Maatschappij Vlaanderen (PMV, Flanders Participation Company) from its initiation, in early 2006.

CulturrInvest is already operational. A Fund Manager has been appointed and applications can be submitted.

Belgium/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.7 Employment policies for the cultural sector

At the federal level, the "Maribel" social fund has been created to sustain job creation in the cultural sector.

Flemish Community

In the very broad sense of the word, the number of persons employed in the cultural sector was 106 000, in 2003. This shows an increase of 4 000 compared to 2002. Nevertheless, rates differ according to the definition adopted. Employment in "publishing, printing and reproduction" is decreasing, while an increase can be noticed in "Recreation, culture and sport", the latter being a sector with a lot of part time employment.

72% of employment can be ascribed to the private sector.

For many years, the cultural sector has made intensive use of special forms of employment organised by the government to combat unemployment. Money has been set aside to regulate employees in the cultural field who were employed via special employment programmes.

A fund for socio-economic security was set up in the performing arts sector in 2001. A collective labour agreement was concluded with regard to high-risk groups. The general social security contribution of 0.1%, collected from the total payroll, flows back to sector specific initiatives in the framework of employment and education, such as initiatives for the transition of the careers of dancers.

"het Kunstenloket" was created in 2004, in order to inform and advise on legal and administrative aspects of artistic activity; to follow up the implementation of the new social status of the artist initiatives; to collect and analyse data on employment; and to organise training. Kunstenloket asked the "Hoger Instituut voor de arbeid" (Higher Institute for Labour Studies) to develop a "monitoring instrument", the results of which were published in 2006 (see 9.2). The publication also includes employment figures.

French Community

Since 1974, cultural employment has been developed and subsidised mainly in the sectors of cultural centres, youth, continuing education, libraries, theatre, and the major cultural institutions.

Various plans for the absorption of unemployment conducted in the context of overall employment policies have enabled genuine investment in employment in the various cultural sectors.

This contribution has enabled employment to be strongly developed in the cultural sector.

Nevertheless, this has not necessarily developed employment quality and qualification, access rationale for such jobs being oriented to essentially social criteria.

New forms of co-operation between cultural policies (community-based) and employment policies (federal and regional) are being sought in order to develop cultural employment in a more structured manner.

A regiter of cultural employment is under development. This cadastre will reveal the number of workers and jobs in the socio-cultural world, as well as the profiles of the functions, the qualifications and statutes.

German-speaking Community

Subsidies for the financing of staff of cultural organisations, museums and creative studios as well as organisations of youth and adult education are regulated by decree or by agreement.

Since the Walloon Region transferred exercise of the responsibilities in the area of employment to the German-speaking Community in 2000, the regulation of job-creation measures by the government and institution of a Labour Office for the German-speaking Community have been the most important instruments of employment policy.

Job-creation measures are aimed at enabling the long-term unemployed and recipients of welfare to gain regular employment. By means of grants for the salary costs of associations and authorities that take on additional staff in the context of projects of global community interest, the German-speaking Community provides a targeted contribution towards increasing the volume of employment.

Belgium/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.8 New technologies and cultural policies

Flemish Community

In the Flemish Community, institutions, networks and projects in the field of e-culture are developing.

The 2004-2009 policy document of the Minister of Culture contains references to the need to develop the digitisation process in different cultural sectors. It also contains a general section on the importance of generating new impulses for a policy on e-culture. In that respect, an "E-culture in Flanders" trajectory was set up in preparation for a policy. The first step in this exercise was to develop a vision for the sector. The outcome is the publication "E-cultuur. Bouwstenen voor praktijk en beleid" [E-culture. Building stones for practice and policy.] It contains various case studies from the different cultural sectors and also some policy suggestions (

Work has also been started on a master plan for the cultural heritage sector, which includes a section on e-heritage (

A section on digital culture has been added to the website of the Culture administration. This section is one of the steps towards a more structured dissemination of the information on digitisation in Europe and Flanders, and aims to guide visitor towards information on digitisation policy and practice (

As is the case for the French Community, the Flemish Community also participates in the National Representatives Group, which is responsible for the follow-up of the recently launched Dynamic Action Plan for the EU co-ordination of digitisation of cultural and scientific content.

The 2004-2009 policy document of the Minister of Culture contains references to the need to develop the digitisation process in different cultural sectors. It also contains a general section on the importance of generating new impulses for a policy on e-culture.

Several research projects, which are expected to bring out their results in 2005, will deliver input to make this possible. 

Work has also been started on a master plan for the cultural heritage sector, which would include a section on digitisation. 

A section on digital culture has been added to the website of the Culture administration. This section is one of the steps towards a more structured dissemination of the information on digitisation in Europe and Flanders, and aims to guide the visitor towards information on digitisation in terms of policy and practice (

As is the case for the French Community, the Flemish Community also participates in the National Representatives Group, which is responsible for the follow-up of the Lund Action Plan.

French Community

Every year, an internet festival is organised. The objective of the festival is to assess the insertion of the French Community and, more specifically, of culture in the "knowledge-based society".

The development of new technologies has mainly focused on e-administration: development of websites, portals, on-line counters and services, and on the long-term preservation of the cultural heritage: digitalisation of the heritage in accordance with international standards.

Information and sensitisation days are organised, in particular in the area of public libraries and performing arts: participation to the European net-days on performing arts.

A computerised access programme to the collections of the museum institutions (AICIM) is under development.

German-speaking Community

The most important project alongside the re-launch of the internet portal of the German-speaking Community is the continual expansion of a virtual library network. This is an electronic network in which the Media Centre, school media libraries and certain public libraries work in cooperation. The items in the German-speaking Community's art collection are being stored digitally and made accessible online in the form of a virtual museum.

Various concrete cooperation projects are aimed at further developing the cultural and media landscape by network-linking the various players and encouraging exchanges of tried and tested practices.

In conjunction with the areas of teaching and youth, the communication of media skills is being furthered by e.g. school classes taking part in the European needy, support of the "Jumix" online youth magazine, offering courses, projects and events via the Media Centre and the Community's educational server (learnbox).

Belgium/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.9 Heritage issues and policies

Flemish Community

In Flanders, two different authorities are competent for cultural heritage policy. On one side, the Flemish Region and the Brussels-Capital Region are responsible for monuments, landscapes and archaeological sites. The Flemish Community, on the other hand, is responsible for movable and intangible heritage.

The Flemish Region and the Brussels-Capital Region are responsible for implementing the legislation passed in the field of immovable heritage as well as for organising the Days of Monuments. The Flemish Region is engaged in several projects including completing an inventory of architectural heritage by 2003 and legal protection for all valuable monuments by 2007.

The Flemish Region is working on a new project to increase access to monuments in a user-friendly and monument-friendly way. Particular attention is to be placed on church property, new aspects of heritage, and new forms of administration, such as the creation of the new Stichting Vlaams Erfgoed (National Trust). For more information, see the link list in 9.2.

Regarding the cultural heritage legislation of the Flemish Community, emphasis has been placed on different institutions and instruments, such as museums, archives, organisations of popular culture, intangible heritage (oral history, traditions, rites ...), heritage covenants, etc.

Four decrees are of relevance to the heritage field of the Flemish Community. First, the Heritage Decree of 7/05/2004 is an umbrella decree:

Second, the Archive Decree (19/7/2002) organises the field of private archives, libraries and documentation centres in Flanders.

Third, the Decree of Popular Culture (27/10/1998) regulates the recognition and funding of organisations in the field of popular culture and stipulates the creation of the "Vlaams Centrum voor Volkscultuur vzw" as a support centre for the fields of folklore, ethnology, local history, genealogy, industrial archaeology and intangible heritage.

Fourth, on 24/01/2003, a specific Decree was ratified to protect movable cultural heritage of exceptional importance. It offers a framework for the handling of heritage objects: subsidies for restoration, protective measures concerning physical interventions, export regulations and conditions for Flemish government intervention in case of a prohibition for export.

The Flemish government supports other heritage initiatives in Flanders. Since 2002, the Heritage Day is organised annually all over Flanders with activities to involve the Flemish public. Each year, a different theme is chosen e.g. "Heritage as DNA of the society" (2002), "Travelling" (2003), "It's in the Family" (2004), "Heritage in Danger, Danger in Heritage" (2005) and "In Colour" (2006). For 2007, the starting point for activities will be the value(s) of cultural heritage.

In November 2006, the Flemish government organised, for the first time, the "Week of Taste". Not only heritage actors, but also partners from other sectors such as education, agriculture, the catering industry, public health, welfare, etc., were involved in the organisation of this event. This proves that heritage interacts with all different aspects of society.

In the Flemish Community, cultural heritage policy is expanding rapidly. In order to bring together different developments, the Flemish government started, in 2003, a long term trajectory entitled "A Master Plan for Cultural Heritage". This ongoing process provides a wide framework for the future cultural heritage policy in Flanders. It combines a mission, a vision and strategies for cultural heritage policy, and functions as a beacon for all those involved with heritage (governments, heritage managers, conservators, the public...). In this master plan, attention is given to: investment in cultural heritage, the government as a good example what does this mean?, complementary policies, internationalisation, digital issues, and interculturalisation.

French Community

Competence for heritage is shared between the Regions (Wallonia and Brussels-Capital) and the French Community. The Regions are responsible for property heritage while the French Community has responsibility for movable cultural heritage including museums, archives, ethnology and folklore. The transfer of power over property heritage from the French Community to the Brussels and Walloon Regions was initiated to allow for greater co-operation with the towns and counties and to integrate heritage preservation into their planning strategies.

The French Community's heritage policy is essentially focused on museums: the Royal Mariemont of the French Community, Muséobus, subsidisation of twelve museums and art centres organised jointly by the French Community and various public authorities, together with museums organised by other public authorities or by associations.

German-speaking Community

The German-speaking Community is responsible for intangible cultural heritage, moveable cultural heritage, monument and countryside preservation and the protection of monumental sites. It supports folklore activities, the activities undertaken by museums and the publication of historical literature; it subsidises restoration work to moveable cultural heritage and monuments and runs an archaeological department.

In participation with the Walloon Region, the German-speaking Community participates in the European Heritage Days. Other initiatives in the field of cultural heritage are also carried out in co-operation with neighbouring regions (B, D).

Future efforts are directed at logging the entire stock of intangible heritage, moveable cultural heritage of the museums and churches, audiovisual heritage, listed buildings, monuments and the countryside.

For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Belgium (Brussels Capital region)
European Heritage Network: Country profile Belgium (Flemish region)
European Heritage Network: Country profile Belgium (Walloon region)

Belgium/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies

Flemish Community

According to the Decree of 15 July 1997 on the Introduction of a more Balanced Representation of Men and Women in Advisory Councils, a maximum of two thirds of the members of the Flemish advisory bodies may be of the same sex.

French Community

A specific equal opportunity policy for men and women is in place to protect women's rights and to support projects working in this area. However, there is no particular provision for the tangible achievement of equal representation and equal access to the various forms of support. It should be emphasised that the sectors that are especially preoccupied by issues of cultural democracy, such as continuing education and youth, subsidise associations whose principal objectives include either equality between men and women or the enhancement of issues and interests of a particularly feminine or feminist nature.

German-speaking Community

The Decree of 3 May 2004 to promote the balanced representation of men and women in consultative committees governs the relative numbers of each sex sitting on councils, commissions, committees and in other statutory bodies that are consulted by the government or its ministers.

The Decree provides that:

The rules affect the following bodies, amongst others:

Belgium/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.3 Other relevant issues and debates

French Community

Along with artistic creation and diffusion, and the preservation of the heritage, participation is an important dimension to the cultural life in the French Community. Many associations - of local, regional or community scope, and that concern young people and adults - develop cultural projects. These projects focus on the participation of citizens in the cultural and social life, on the education and the sensitisation to the stakes of citizenship and democracy, on artistic and cultural practices, as well as on the creativity linked to the social environment of the groups concerned.

Belgium/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.1 Constitution

The Constitution of Belgium includes the right of freedom of expression (Article 19), the right to cultural development (Article 23, 5) and freedom of the press (Article 25).

Belgium/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.2 Division of jurisdiction

The Constitution determines cultural affairs, cultural cooperation between the communities and international cultural cooperation within the scope of the Flemish and the French Community (Article 127, § 1).

Belgium/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.3 Allocation of public funds

The fundamental part of federal legislation is the Cultural Pact Act passed in 1973. This Act has also served as the basis for legislation (in the form of decrees) at community level.

According to the Cultural Pact Act, regulation regarding recognition and funding of regular cultural activities is determined according to a decree or discussion of a representative government meeting. In the event of a lack of these regulations all subsidies and benefits must be allocated from a specific budget. This excludes subsidies for new experimental initiatives, but these starting subsidies may only be granted for a maximum of three years, on the basis of advice from an authorised advisory body.

The Cultural Pact Act also prescribes that government aid - in whatever form- must guarantee the equality of rights between citizens, regardless of their conviction.

The Cultural Pact Act also obliges every government to set up participation or advisory structures and to involve these in the preparation and implementation of the cultural policy.

Complaints against infringements on the stipulations of the Cultural Pact Act can be submitted to a special commission.

Belgium/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.4 Social security frameworks

In 2000, measures were taken to enable artists who receive unemployment benefits to practise their art more freely, which hitherto had been prohibited by law.

In December 2002, the federal parliament ratified measures to improve the social security system for artists. On July 1st 2003, this regulation came into effect. The main points are:

For more information, see our Status of Artists section.

Belgium/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.5 Tax laws


A new VAT system has been in force since 1993, which was the result of a harmonisation of the different systems in the European Union.

The VAT system is divided into two rates: a high rate of 21%, and a low rate of 6%. The low rate applies to most cultural objects (magazines, books, original works of art, collector's objects) and services (tickets for productions, copyright).

Belgian legislation allows for many cultural exemptions (Article 44, §2, 6-9º, VAT Code) including:

Such exemptions mean that there is no right to deduct tax in advance. The exemption for performing artists providing services to organisers / companies was also extended to unions of performing artists such as theatre companies. However, on 1 April 1998, this tax exemption was limited to individual performing artists (Letter no. 13 of the Minister of Finance, dated 19/11/1997). Since then performances which are not given by individuals are subject to tax at 6%.

The scope and application of this new interpretation remains very unclear and local tax inspectors are sometimes confused regarding the allocation of VAT status to theatre companies applying on the basis of Letter no 13. Sometimes local officials decide to make other activities subject to VAT, but not ticket sales for performances.

Income tax

In some cross-border situations, the Belgium government is allowed to tax the income of non-residents who earn money by working in Belgium. However, this depends on co-operation agreements (double taxation laws) reached with the corresponding countries. For visiting artists, this system can lead to a deduction of company tax from the income which they earn for their performances in Belgium. This tax should be deducted by the Belgian organisers of the performances.

Tax shelter

From January 2003 onwards, investors can enjoy a tax exemption for the amount they invest in Belgian audiovisual work. This amount may partly consist of loans.

Belgium/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.6 Labour laws

Labour laws are the responsibility of the Federal Government and are carried out by the Employment Minister (Federal Employment, Labour and Social Negotiations Government Service). Exemptions for the cultural sector are provided in legislation relating to night work and the protection of Sunday as a rest day.

The social partners, represented by unions and employer federations, are deeply involved in the realisation of regulation in the labour sector.

The joint committees (JC) include an equal amount of employer and employee organisation representatives, under the direction of an independent chairperson. JCs have been set up for all branches of industry with the aim of grouping companies with similar activities and to develop instructions adapted to labour conditions. The JC assignments consist mainly of concluding collective labour agreements, preventing or solving social disputes and advising on policy.

In principle an employer does not freely choose which JC deals with its activities. This is determined on the basis of an employer's activity and the responsibility of each JC. The following JCs are important for the cultural sector:

The collective labour agreements that are concluded in the JCs can be accessed at

A collective labour agreement (CLA) is an agreement that determines individual and collective relations between employers and employees in companies or branches. When an employer is bound by a CLA, the resulting rights and obligations apply to all employees, regardless of whether they are members of the union(s) in question. The sectoral CLAs are mainly concluded in joint committees or sub-committees. They determine the jobs and corresponding wages for a sector and can include arrangements regarding flexibility.

These agreements can be declared generally binding by the King of Belgium and an employer or employee cannot divert individually from this type of CLA. A major example is the Music CLA concluded in PC 304, which is generally declared binding so it applies to everyone who employs a musician, including for example a pianist who plays part-time in a hotel or restaurant.

The Performing Arts CLA provides arrangements for flexible work in all companies and organisations subsidised by the Flemish Community.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Belgium/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

Authors' rights systems

The Minister of the Economy is responsible for copyright legislation. The Belgian Copyright Act was passed in 1994 and covers copyright, secondary rights, copying for own use, borrowing and lending rights.

The protection of the Copyright Act is reserved for work which expresses a clear idea in a particular material form determined by the author, with an adequately original character. The copyright protects the work and the relationship between the artist and his work. The Act also makes a distinction between the author's moral and property rights. The Act should be adapted to European Directive 2001/29/EG but is delayed due to discussions concerning educational and cultural use of protected work. 

Blank tape levies

The Copyright Act makes a distinction between copying audio and audio-visual works for home use on the one hand and copying graphic works on the other hand. The payment for copying audio and audio-visual works for home use should be paid by the manufacturer, importer, wholesaler or carrier (audio cassettes, video cassettes, etc. or reproduction equipment such as video equipment, recorders etc.). The amount of the payment is determined by royal decree. The distribution of the payment is made at a rate of 1/3 for each of the following: authors, the performing artists, and the producers.

For graphic works, fees are collected from the manufacturer, importer or wholesaler of reproduction equipment as well as the person making copies. This payment can also be made by the people or institutions that make reproduction equipment available. The level and control of payments, collection and distribution are arranged by royal decree. Half of the payment is made to the authors, the other half to the publishers.

Public lending rights

The new Copyright Act recognises the right of the author to payment for the lending or loaning of his / her work with an educational or cultural aim. This payment is be determined by Royal Decree (25 April 2004).

Adequate compensation

Since October 1999 public rendition of recorded music includes an "adequate compensation" for the benefit of musicians and producers. The rates were determined after extensive consultation with users, where a separate arrangement was provided for the socio-cultural sector.

Belgium/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.8 Data protection laws

Databases are protected by law (Directive 96/9/EC of 11 March 1996 and Belgian Law of 31 August 1998).

The maker of the database has a property right if there has been a substantial investment - in terms of quality or quantity or a combination of both - in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents of the database.

The maker of the database can oppose:

Database rights expire 15 years after the 1st of January of the year following the date of completion of the database. If the database is made available to the public before the end of the aforementioned period, this right shall expire 15 years after the 1st of January of the year following the date when the database was made available to the public.

A simple update of the database will not initiate new copyright protection however a substantial modification of the database, whether quantitively or qualitatively, will start new copyright protection of 15 years under the Belgian Law.

Belgium/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.9 Language laws

German-speaking Community

29.03.1982 - Regulatory Order on the Language Regulations for Primary Schools;

21.12.1987 - Decree to Encourage Nurture of the Standard German Language in Schools;

26.10.1998 - Decree on the Introduction of the New German Spelling Rules;

10.05.1999 - Decree on Naming of Public Roads; and

19.04.2004 - Decree on the Intermediation and Use of Languages in Teaching.

Belgium/ 5.2 Legislation on culture

Flemish Community

For several years, Flanders has been working on a thorough restructuring of the legislation on culture. Important principles are:

Recent examples:

The Local Cultural Policy Decree - Decree concerning the Stimulation of a Qualitative and Integral Local Cultural Policy (13 July 2001).

With this decree, the Flemish government would like to stimulate an integral local cultural policy. Local authorities are assigned a large role in policymaking and are responsible for their cultural policy. The decree includes obligations in the areas of participation and consultation (cultural council) and public library operation. Other issues are optional: drawing up or carrying out a cultural policy plan, cultural centres or community centres and inter-municipal cooperation. Municipalities can benefit by financial support from the Flemish government (see 8.4.2).

The Arts Decree - Decree concerning the Subsidising of Arts Organisations, Artists, Arts Education and Social-artistic Organisations, International Initiatives, Publications and Support Centres (2 April 2004).

From 2006 (2007 for music), this decree replaces the current decrees and many regulations for the various art forms: performing art, music, visual and audiovisual arts, literature, architecture, design, new media and all hybrid art forms.

The Heritage Decree - Decree concerning the Organisation and Subsidising of a Cultural Heritage Policy (7 May 2004)

This is a coordinating decree regarding the recognition and subsidising of museums, heritage covenants, projects and publications. Currently, the administration is working on the integration of three existing decrees in the heritage field: the Decree on Popular Culture (1998), the Archive Decree (2002) and the Heritage Decree (2004).

German-speaking Community

The cultural policy is currently based on various sets of rules (Decrees, Orders of the government, Circulars). The German-speaking Community has set itself the goal of renewing this legislation taking account of certain principles, such as considering a specific sector as a whole, consolidating individual sets of rules in an overall text and simplifying administrative processes.

Belgium/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.1 Visual and applied arts

Flemish Community

The Arts Decree - Decree Concerning the Subsidising of Arts Organisations, Artists, Arts Education and Socio-artistic Organisations, International Initiatives, Publications and Support Centres (2 April 2004).

French Community

Belgium/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.2 Performing arts and music

Flemish Community

The Arts Decree - Decree Concerning the Subsidising of Arts Organisations, Artists, Arts Education and Socio-artistic Organisations, International Initiatives, Publications and Support Centres (2 April 2004).

French Community

German-speaking Community

Belgium/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.3 Cultural heritage

Flemish Community

French Community

German-speaking Community

Belgium/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.4 Literature and libraries

Flemish Community


All other regulations emanate from the Vlaams Fonds voor de Letteren [Flemish Literature Fund] (established by Decree of 30 March 1999, changed on 29 July 2004):

There are also regulations covering the subsidies on the production of literary publications and magazines, for literary readings and performances, work grants for authors, project grants and subsidies for translators.


Five year trends in visits to libraries remained steady.

French Community

German-speaking Community

Belgium/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.5 Architecture and environment

Flemish Community

French Community

Belgium/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.6 Film, video and photography

Flemish Community

Support for new work and education is granted by the Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds [Flemish Audiovisual Fund], established by Decree on 13 April 1999. There are regulations for supporting production, development and promotion, as well as other grants and training initiatives.

French Community



German-speaking Community

Belgium/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.7 Culture industries

Flemish Community

French Community

Belgium/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.8 Mass media

Flemish Community

French Community


German-speaking Community

Belgium/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.9 Legislation for self-employed artists

See 5.1.4.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Belgium/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.10 Other areas of relevant legislation

Flemish Community

Regulation for subsidising the cultural infrastructure with a supra local importance:

French Community

Culture Centres

Continuing Education


German-speaking Community


Continuing Education


Belgium/ 6. Financing of culture

6.1 Short overview

All levels and communities of government support culture: the Federal state (bi-cultural institutions), the Communities, the Regions (monuments and sites), the Provinces, the French and Flemish Community Commission of the Brussels Region and the municipalities.

Belgium/ 6. Financing of culture

6.2 Public cultural expenditure per capita

According to a study made by the French Community, total cultural expenditure per capita in Belgium in 1999 was 245 euros including expenditure by the Flemish and French Community for non-professional arts education (or 223 euros excluding this item). This amount includes inter-governmental transfers.

Flemish Community

In 2005, cultural expenditure in the Flemish Community was 910 768 000 euros for youth and sport, continuing education, libraries, arts, heritage monuments and sites, media (including public broadcasting) and non-professional arts education.

Cultural expenditure, defined in this way, was 145.62 euros per capita, and 4.99% of the total budget of the Flemish Community.

The increase in the budget for 2005 is 33.9% compared to 2000 (686 833 000 euros), and 63.8% compared to 1995 (561 440 000 euros).

The share of the budget allocated to culture was 4.14% in 1995 and 4.27% in 2000.

French Community

Expenditure per capita in the French Community is 105 euros for the period of 2000-2004. A survey conducted in 2001 shows the breakdown of cultural expenditure per capita according to the cultural sectors:

Belgium/ 6. Financing of culture

6.3 Public cultural expenditure broken down by level of government

A study carried out by the French Community found that both in Flanders and in Wallonia, the Communities are the most important financial supporters of the cultural sector. The study also found that the municipalities play a more important part in Flanders than in Wallonia. As the cultural support system is federalised, the Belgian government provides only 2.4 percent of the total budget.

Table 1:     Public cultural expenditure: by level of government, in euro, in %, 2002

Level of government


% of total

Federal state

76 391


National lottery

27 776


Brussels-capital region

25 376


Flemish Community Commission in Brussels

16 282


French Community Commission in Brussels

10 944


The 19 communities in Brussels

104 199


Flemish Community

879 315


Flemish provinces

198 888


Flemish municipalities

763 794


French Community

554 516


Walloon provinces

92 584


Walloon municipalities

291 170


German speaking Community

16 500


Source:      Faits&Gestes, nr. 13, 2004. Ministère de la Communauté française.

Belgium/ 6. Financing of culture

6.4 Sector breakdown

Flemish Community

Table 2:     State cultural budget: by sector, Flemish Community, 2005

Field / Domain / Sub-domain


% of total

Cultural Goods



Cultural Heritage



Historical Monuments

67 833 000



19 211 000











Visual Arts (including design)

4 676 000


Performing Arts




18 404 000


Theatre and Musical Theatre

47 659 000








Books and Press









Audio, Audiovisual and Multimedia




20 456 000



267 567 000 





Other: Cultural centers







46 716 000


Cultural Relations Abroad






Educational Activities***

154 110 000


Not allocable by domain****

221 928 000



868 560 000


Source:      Algemene uitgavenbegroting van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap (1995-2005) - Bewerking Team Informatietechnologie en -beheer, Departement Cultuur, Jeugd, Sport en Media.
*                 Museums: including archives, popular culture, cultural heritage.
**              Cinema: including media innovation, audiovisual culture.
***            Educational activities: non-professional art education.
****          Not allocable by domain: local cultural policy (libraries, cultural centers...), amateur arts, infrastructure, cultural relations abroad, special employment programmes).
*****       Total: not including sport and youth.

French Community

The fields included in Table 2 do not cover the full range of the subjects, nor do they cover the full range of the budget of the Directorate-General of Culture and the General Service for audio-visual production, hence there is no percentage distribution.

A complete Table 3 is suggested below.

Reminder: immovable heritage is managed by the regions, and is therefore not included in the tables below.

Table 3:     State cultural budget: by sector, by level of government, French Community, 2005

Field / Domain / Sub-domain



Cultural Goods



Cultural Heritage



Historical Monuments




6 485 000



2 120 000



11 370 000





Visual Arts (including design)

4 568 000


Performing Arts




27 782 000


Theatre and Musical Theatre

35 327 000



5 265 000





Books and Press




3 378 000



5 528 000


Audio, Audiovisual and Multimedia




11 646 000



See Television



183 671 000


Other: Cultural centers

11 835 000



13 540 000



54 096 000


Cultural Relations Abroad

107 000



1 175 000


Educational Activities

155 000


Not allocable by domain

9 162 000





Source:      French Community, Directorate General for Culture, 2005

A few comments:

Educational activities are managed in each area: it is therefore not possible to differentiate them.

International activities are mainly handled by the CGRI.

The cultural centres representing a significant area of activities appear under the "other" heading.

"Radio and television" includes the RTBF grant, which represents the highest slice of the budget: 175 653 000 EUR.

The "Cocof" (Brussels French Community Commission) grant appears under the heading "not allocable by domain".

Table 4       Budget for General Directorate, General Department for Audiovisual and Multimedia of the French Community, in '000 euro, 2005


Total expenditure



% share of budget

General matters

49 258

General matters
Promotion of employement
Educational activities
Cultural centres
Cocof dotation

3 359
10 000
13 540
1 207
11 835
9 162


Performing arts department

68 481

Circus and street arts

4 834
30 052
27 782
5 171


Books & literature department

15 159

General matters
Books and literature
Regional languages
French languages

11 370
3 378


Youth & continuing eduction department

41 912

Continuing education and creativity
Training of cultural leaders

17 077

23 696
1 139


Cultural heritage & visual arts

12 053

Cultural heritage and museums
Ethnology and folklore
Visual arts & design

6 485
4 568


Audiovisual & multimedia department

200 181

General matters
Cinema and video
Radio Television (excluding RTBF)

1 440
11 646
5 914
5 528


RTBF dotation

175 653



387 044


387 044


Source :     French Community, Directorate General for Culture, 2005

German-speaking Community

Table 5:     State cultural budget: by sector, by level of government, German Community, 2005

Field / Domain / Sub-domain

Direct expenditure

to institutions



Cultural Goods



765 000


Cultural Heritage



663 000


Historical Monuments


525 000

525 000




118 000

118 000




20 000

20 000









102 000

102 000





864 000


Visual Arts (including design)

10 000

42 000

52 000


Performing Arts

22 000

790 000

812 000







Theatre and Danse













5 293 000


Books and Press



347 000



146 000

27 000

173 000




174 000

174 000


Audio, Audiovisual and Multimedia



4 946 000



86 000

27 000

113 000




18 000

18 000


Radio and Television


4 570 000

4 570 000


Media Center


245 000

245 000

















Cultural Relations Abroad










Educational Activities





Infrastructure Arts and Media


229 000

229 000



264 000

6 887 000

12 098 000


Source:   Ministry of the German-speaking Community, 2005

Belgium/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.1 Re-allocation of public responsibilities

Flemish Community

The division of responsibilities between the Flemish government, the provinces and the municipalities varies depending on the sector. Some decrees contain clear regulations on the division of tasks, sometimes including financial quotas. This is the case for example for the city theatres, cultural centres, libraries and heritage covenants.

The "kerntakendebat" (debate on core responsibilities) resulted in a principal agreement on April 25th 2003. This implies that the provinces and municipalities will be involved in the process of changing regulations. In order to reach a good division of responsibilities, the Flemish government will negotiate with umbrella organisations representing municipalities and provinces in the international, Flemish, provincial and / or local institutions and organisations active in the fields of (moveable and immoveable) heritage, professional arts, socio-cultural work and youth work.

French Community

The French Community allocates a sizeable budget to the French Community Commission (FCC), which in turn delegates some of its responsibility to Brussels. This FCC is a public administration body dependent upon the Brussels Capital region.

The French Community government has set up a management contract with the RTBF (public service broadcasting) which outlines its mission and annual level of support. This financial support is allocated by the Ministry of the French Community and amounted to 175 653 000 euros in 2005. The audio-visual department of the French Community manages the funds allocated to the Film and Audio-visual Centre.

The French community has created an independent administrative authority: the Superior Council for the Audiovisual Sector (SCA) which is responsible for regulating the radio broadcasting sector. The SCA has a mission set by the government of the French Community over a five year financial contract period.

The Royal Museum of Mariemont is an establishment with separate management and it benefits from a French Community grant. This museum has antiquities and archaeology collections. The development work of the museum is of scientific, educational and significant cultural interest.

German-speaking Community

Since 1 January 2005, the German-speaking Community has supervisory responsibilities for subordinate authorities, powers which were transferred for the nine German-speaking boroughs by the Walloon Region. The German Community has also entered into a cooperation accord with the Province of Liège.

Belgium/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.2 Status/role and development of major cultural institutions

Flemish Community

Flanders has the following major cultural institutions: the Royal Ballet of Flanders, the Flemish Opera, de Filharmonie, the Arts Centre de Singel, the Flemish Radio Orchestra and the Flemish Radio Choir, KMSKA (Royal Museum of Fine Arts - Antwerp), MuHKA (Museum for Contemporary Art - Antwerp) and the Castle of Gaasbeek. The institutions have varying types of management structures. Until recently, these major cultural institutions were excluded in the existing decrees and were not evaluated by the existing advisory bodies. Guidelines for the two museums and the castle have been introduced in the Heritage Decree and for the other institutions in the Arts Decree. These institutions have to submit a policy plan, covering a period of 5 years. The guidelines include stipulations on quality assessment (including foreign experts) and a management agreement for a five-year period.

French Community

The following institutions are subsidised by the French Community:

Multidisciplinary cultural centres

Performing arts

Books and literature

Fine arts and museums


The majority of these institutions are linked to the French Community by contract-programmes, which define their missions and their subsidies.

German-speaking Community

The Belgian Radio and Television Centre of the German-speaking Community is a para-community service which has a management agreement with the government. The Media Centre of the German-speaking Community is a department under the aegis of the Ministry for the German-speaking Community but with separate management. The open channel is under the financial responsibility of the German-speaking Community while the management is the responsibility of a private-sector non-profit association.

Belgium/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.3 Emerging partnerships or collaborations

Flemish Community

Since 1987, there has been a real increase in cultural sponsorship, reaching a high point in the period from 1990-1993. Since then, sponsorship levels have stabilised with the majority of funds directed at concerts and classical music festivals, followed by art exhibitions. Private sector support is generally not forthcoming for innovation, experimentation, small-scale events and amateur events.

In 2004, a research project was finalised, which looked at the mechanisms of corporate sponsorship in the field of music and performing arts. The results of the research confirmed the sponsorship trends mentioned above and reported on the increasing influence of globalisation.

In order to respond to the growing need for cultural entrepreneurship, the Flemish government carried out research on possibilities for public-private collaboration in the field of culture. As a result, the Minister of Culture created a new instrument for the cultural industries: "CultuurInvest" (see also 4.2.6). This investment programme offers opportunities for the Flemish government to not only act as a subsidizer, but also to engage in cultural initiatives as an investor and for the private sector to be an investing partner in culture.

French Community

The French Community subsidises the "Promethea" Association, which is responsible for creating an interface between the cultural world and the economic world, mainly through sponsorship. This association is also the government's voice concerning all questions relating to the development of corporate patronage and private sponsorship.

Belgium/ 8. Support to creativity and participation

8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

See 8.1.1.

Belgium/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.1 Special artists funds

Information is currently not available.

Belgium/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.2 Grants, awards, scholarships

Flemish Community

In addition to subsidies provided to arts organisations, there are also measures to stimulate the creativity of individual artists. Commissions are given out in the fields of music and the performing arts, for compositions and for plays, under certain conditions. Bursaries are awarded to creative artists. The Flemish Community purchases works of art for the collection of the Flemish museums of contemporary art and for its own collection. There is also a purchasing policy for literature. The Flemish Community, provinces and municipalities also award prizes.

In the framework of the Arts Decree, subsidies for artists are a special point of interest. From 2006 subsidies that were implemented in certain sectors are now expanded to others. Support is given in three ways: development grants for artists who already enjoy a certain degree of recognition; subsidies for artists' projects (creation, presentation or reflection) and subsidies to commission artistic works.

French Community

Scholarships are available for individual artists in the fields of the visual arts, contemporary literature and music. The Ministry of the French Community has an acquisition programme for works of art which are exhibited in the municipal or provincial museums, in art centres and in public administration buildings.

Cinema: direct financial support is provided for script writing and for short, medium or full-length productions. The Ministry also allocates support for creation and production via specific structures and units.

Contemporary theatre and dance: project grants are available for companies not regularly subsidised. Programme contracts are available for theatres. Emphasis is placed on young creators in the evaluation of applications for project funding and co-funding.

Music: in addition to the main institutions in this field, individual practitioners receive specific grants for composing work.

Literature: several awards are presented: quinquennial award for literature; triennial award for poetry, novels and essays; award for a first work; award for translation; award for the promotion of Belgian literature abroad.

New initiatives are undertaken to create and develop artists' workshops, structures (theatre, dance, and cinema) and residencies (mainly for the performing arts, but also for translation) in various cultural institutions.

German-speaking Community

Belgium/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.3 Support to professional artists associations or unions

French Community

In most cases, artists' associations or federations benefit from subsidies for their activities and operation. These associations are well represented in the area of performing arts: performing arts, theatre for children and youth, jazz, rock, choreography and the programming of shows.

In the field of books, publishers' associations, public librarian associations and public libraries are supported.

In the area of fine arts and museums, creators' associations in arts and crafts and museums are supported.

Artists' residencies are multiplying and now fall within the government contract-programmes of the large artistic institutions and most of the arts centres that have an adequate infrastructure.

German-speaking Community

Most arts groups are amateur arts associations, of which only a few have achieved a semi-professional status. Most of the cultural players in the German-speaking Community operate in an honorary capacity. Organisations that operate full time are mainly in the area of organising cultural events and museums, but many still rely on financial support from the German-speaking Community.

Belgium/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.1 Trends and figures

Flemish Community

Table 6:     Share of people who participate in cultural activities at least once a year, in 2000 and 2005




Classical concerts, festivals



Rock / pop concerts, festivals



Jazz / blues concerts



Folklore / traditional music






Ballet / dance






Museums, exhibitions



Source:      SCV-surveys. In: VRIND 2006, ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap, 2006.

Reading habits: 70.1% of the population sometimes read books. On average, people read 4.9 books per year for work, and 11.6 books for leisure.

In 2004, 27% of the population was registered as member of a public library, while 8.4% visit libraries several times a month.

Visits to the cinema: After a decline in the early 1990s, the number of cinema visits is now increasing and more and more tickets are being sold. In 2005, over half of the population went to the cinema, while most cinemagoers went several times per year.

French Community

A recent survey indicated that 20.6% of the population use public libraries.

In 2003, there were 70 cinemas in the Brussels region and 200 in the Walloon region. For this period, visitors to the cinema in Belgium totalled 22 712 732: the total for Brussels was 4 587 850, while the figure for the Walloon Region was 6 967 571 (figures: INS). 

Between 1995 and 2003, there was an increase of 18% in the number of performing arts spectators in Belgium.

Belgium/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.2 Policies and programmes

Flemish Community

In Flemish cultural policy, cultural participation and cultural competence have been a main point of interest for several years. The government wishes to increase cultural participation through several strategies and, at the same time, create favourable conditions so that everyone can develop cultural competence. In Flanders, cultural competence is used as a broad notion. In the government policy memorandum 2004-2009, the Flemish policy on culture aims to remove the obstacles which inhibit participation in culture and supports initiatives in this respect. This particularly concerns initiatives related to socio-cultural work, communication (including the "traditional" channels but also digital communication), spread, financial obstacles, physical access, etc. Longitudinal scientific research into participation in culture is also important for the policy. The government of Flanders also considers that it is very important for all art and heritage institutions, libraries and cultural centres and culture and youth work organisations to think about the relationship between their provision and the public who participate in this provision. Every "instrument" and every initiative which has the aim of broadening or deepening cultural participation must deal with the obstacles which prevent participation in culture or make it more difficult.

This work will be carried out through subsidising organisations and through special attention for participation as an evaluation criterion in Parliamentary Acts.

Under the Arts Decree, organisations with arts education or socio-artistic work as their primary function can request a subsidy for two or four years. Activities in these areas can also be subsidised in the form of projects. In addition, arts organisations can register arts education and socio-artistic work as an add-on to their main work, for which they can get money as part of their general finances.

Furthermore, the government makes money available for projects that succeed in attracting new audience groups to cultural activities through an original concept. The overall aspiration is to attract groups of participants or local communities to artistic expression and experience through these projects, and vice versa, to guide artists towards local communities. In 2006, the following were identified as target groups: people who are living in financial poverty, disabled people, families with young children and people with an ethnic-cultural background.

Over the last years, the Flemish government has supported a major study on participation trends carried out by the university support centre "Re-creatief Vlaanderen" (Re-creational Flanders), with the aim of giving it a more longitudinal character.

In 2001, a centre for communication, "CultuurNet Vlaanderen" was set up. The aims of the centre are to promote cultural participation and to strengthen cultural knowledge, to centralise information about cultural activities, to inform people about these activities and to promote cultural activities abroad. This centre functions closely with the existing support centres in the different cultural fields and with the communication centres already functioning on a regional or local level. One of the first tasks of this centre was to set up an on-line database, covering the activities of the whole Flemish Community:

French Community

Cultural democracy is one of the fundamental objectives of cultural policies in the French Community. This is the case in all of the artistic sectors and for the majority of the institutions that benefit from subsidies. Access conditions for all types of audiences are specified in the government contract-programmes. In particular these conditions are aimed at audiences with socio-economic difficulties, young people and the elderly. Several institutions and associations implement strategies to inform and encourage these target audiences through collaborations with associations working in specific areas.

One association fulfils a particularly exemplary role in the area of cultural democracy. The association "Article 27" draws its name from Article 27 of the universal declaration for human rights according to which "Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits". In a short time, this association has managed to create and coordinate an extended network that spreads throughout the French Community. This network offers free tickets, or tickets at a very low price, aimed at every person encountering economic difficulties. Currently, the association is considering the possibility of extending the offer to other types of cultural and artistic activities other than the performing arts.

Cultural associations operate in the following ways: take a lead in informing the public about current social issues, minority rights and claims; raise cultural issues in public and political debates; support cultural and artistic productions and dissemination; schedule training workshops and artistic / creative activities.

Certain sectors such as cultural centres, cultural youth organisations, continuing education centres and youth centres are involved in participation and active citizen involvement in cultural projects. This participation is freely and willingly organised by the cultural associations around collective cultural and corporate projects. A priority is defined for the associations and projects conducted by groups in social or economic difficulty. It aims to encourage the emergence of social recognition of popular cultures and marginal or minority forms of expression. The funding conditions of these associations are, amongst others, the critical analysis of society, the stimulation of democratic and collective initiatives, the development of an active citizenship and the exercising of social, cultural, environmental and economic rights.

Belgium/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.1 Arts education

Flemish Community

In Flanders, responsibility for culture and education are separated in 2 different departments within the Flemish government. Fulltime (vocational) education and part-time art education are subsumed under the Education Department. Some of these institutions are funded directly by the Flemish Community; others are free, subsidised institutions. The Culture Department of the Flemish government, subsidises various art education organisations and initiatives. These include:

Specific art education organisations and educational services within museums, theaters and the like, are covered specifically by the Flemisch Parliament Act on Art. Irrespective of the Act under which they are subsumed, art education organisations are united in the "Federatie van Organisaties voor Kunsteducatie" (FOK, Federation of Organisations for Art Education). Culture and education meet in Canon Cultuurcel, the cultural unit of the Education Department, set up to give culture a place within the school environment. In 2005, the Ministry of Culture initiated a large-scale participation study. The results showed that levels of cultural participation largely reflect levels of schooling and education. The family situation also has an influence on the way people participate in culture. There is no doubt that art education will gain in significance in the future as a driving force towards cultural participation.

French Community

Performing arts

At the end of the 1960s, a funding programme was set up to sponsor theatre and musicals in schools. This policy contributed to the development not only of artistic creativity but also of its dissemination of information of their works and of the theatre in general within schools.

Literature and public libraries

Writers, aiming at students, have drawn up programmes of sensitisation to Belgian Francophone literature. Pilot projects develop collaborations between schools and public libraries. Schools are also associated to yearly events, such as "la fureur de lire" and "la langue en fête".

There is currently an education reform process underway, which will redefine its mission in a modern society and demonstrate the importance of cultural activity in the schools. Education and culture are within the Ministry of the French Community. Co-operative objectives and projects are currently being organised.

A specific programme, which associates the departments of culture and education, aims at the development of cultural practices at school, specifically in positive discrimination schools (socially underprivileged public). This programme focuses on activities relative to literature, arts, audiovisual, creativity and continuing education sectors.

German-speaking Community

Artists and schools co-operate within certain projects. There are no systematic promotion measures.

Belgium/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.2 Intercultural education

Flemish Community

Intercultural education was one of the starting points of a process to define the "end terms" / final objectives of an intercultural policy in Flanders. These end terms, which are minimal targets to be met by each pupil, generally focus on dealing with other cultures and their representatives in a respectful way, in a society which is irrevocably intercultural. The objective is to facilitate the recognition and appreciation of diversity.

Intercultural education is an important starting point, both within the Departments of Culture and Education. Both departments pay equal attention to this matter, often in consultation with each other. On the regional and local level, intercultural education is a requirement of the provincial and municipal laws and regulations.  

On an educational level, intercultural aspects are mostly found in the so-called Cross-subject End Terms / final objectives (a minimal set or targets) mentioned above. These minimal target areas are not specifically subsumed under a subject area, but rather they are spread throughout several courses or educational projects, like music-creative education. These cannot be treated in general terms, however, since each school is free to choose how it addresses cross-subject end terms.

Several examples of (cross-subject) end terms:

Within the compulsory educational system, the Education Department pays specific attention to projects surrounding intercultural education through, among others, the Dynamo2 project support (see In this way, art and music schools receive additional financial support to work specifically around this objective. Apart from this, various experimental projects are set up and supported by the cultural cell of the Department of Education, CANON Cultuurcel (see On the federal level, schools can also request project support through Kleur Bekennen (see

The programme "Part-time Artistic Education (DKO: Deeltijds Kunstonderwijs)" is constantly adapting to the changing learning needs. Through temporary projects, alternative training or working methods are tested for a period of time, in order to innovate and augment the range of educational courses offered.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section.

Belgium/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.1 Amateur arts

Flemish Community

A new Amateur Arts Decree was introduced on 22 December 2000 and it ensured the necessary growth and improvement of quality in the sector.

Amateur arts activities are supported by umbrella organisations or federations that bring together local groups. These federations are active in the following fields: music (vocal, instrumental, folk and jazz, choir, pop music), theatre, dance, visual arts, creative writing, and photography (film and video).

In 2005, financial assistance was provided to 6 334 amateur arts groups (up from 3 919 in the year 2000). Approximately 150 000 people participate in amateur arts.

The "Forum voor Amateurkunsten" is the support centre for amateur arts which undertakes supporting activities for the cultural sector on the one side, and on the other side acts as an intermediary between the cultural sector and the government.

In 2004 assistance was provided to 7 927 amateur arts groups (up from 3 919 in the year 2000), which was divided as follows: visual culture (315), vocal music (778), dance (275), instrumental music (1 016), pop music (4 431), theatre (790), visual arts (128), folk and jazz (194).

Approximately 150 000 people participate in amateur arts.

The "Vlaams Centrum voor Amateurkunsten" [the Flemish Amateur Arts Centre] is the support centre for amateur arts.

French Community

Federations (15)

Amateur arts activities are essentially supported by umbrella organisations or federations that bring together local groups either at the community or provincial levels. These federations are mainly in the following fields: music (musical societies such as brass bands, military bands and choirs), folklore (folklore dance groups), theatre and photography, cinema and video.

The federations regroup a very significant number of local associations that develop their artistic practice and contribute to local cultural life.

Centres for expression and creativity (180)

The centres for expression and creativity are local associations that develop artistic practices for and by amateurs. They focus on projects that are rooted in the social environment and which are strongly linked to the social and cultural preoccupations of the participants. These projects are generally supervised by artists and are presented to the public.

We are currently witnessing the emergence of new types of organisations (networks) and new artistic practices developed by non-professional people or groups, for instance: writing workshops, urban cultural practices.

A significant example of the development of an urban animation project supervised by artists and involving the creative participation of citizens is the « Zinneke Parade ». This project is a biennial event presenting a parade involving over 1 000 participants to an audience of more than 200 000 persons.

German-speaking Community

Around 200 amateur arts associations are active in the areas of music, singing, theatre and dance. Several creative workshops are also held. Approximately 50 clubs are devoted to maintaining traditions, mainly in the form of carnival celebrations.

Belgium/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

Flemish Community

Cultural and community centres

The government policy regarding cultural and community centres has been part of the Local Culture Policy Decree for several years (see 5.2).

The key point in this decree is the clustering of cultural actors in the community: libraries, cultural centres and local initiatives. Together they should set the course of cultural life in the community.

Communities with a regional function are eligible for the subsidisation of a cultural centre. This number was 61 in 2003. Cultural centres have three main tasks: spreading culture, community development and promoting cultural participation. There are three categories -A, B and C- depending on the scale of the centre and the regional function. They get a fixed basic subsidy for staff costs depending on the category, and a variable subsidy based on activities.

There are also several smaller community centres. They have a similar task, but their culture-spreading task is less central.

The cultural centres work with a long-term policy plan that needs to synergise with the policy plans of other cultural actors in the community. This policy plan must be concretised and -if necessary- adapted into an annual plan of action.

In the 61 cultural centres, 9 991 activities were organised in the field of professional arts for 1 887 110 visitors in 2003. In addition, 499 artistic exhibitions were organised that year.

Socio-cultural adult work

Socio-cultural work in Flanders has grown historically from several cultural and social emancipation movements with an ideological background. It has played an important role in the Flemish cultural movement, which has led to cultural autonomy.

The work of the socio-cultural organisations that rely on state subsidies in Flanders can be divided into four types: associations, popular high schools, national training institutions and movements. They are controlled by law, specifically by the Decree of 4 April 2003.

Associations are networks of local divisions or groups. There are around 60 socio-cultural associations active in Flanders of all shapes and sizes. Together, they have almost 2 million members.

The 13 Popular High Schools, each working in their own region, organise short or longer courses for adults. The 20 certified training institutions offer a broad educational range throughout Flanders.

Currently, there are 32 movements active in Flanders, specializing in one or more themes, such as peace, active citizenship, and mobility.

French Community

At local level, the French Community subsidises:

Some local associations for continuing education focus on intercultural issues and foreign audiences. Many youth and cultural centres work with foreigners on a regular basis, in order to reflect the cultural diversification of the population.

15% of the budget of the Directorate General for Culture is devoted to local institutions and associations.

Provinces and Commune generally contribute to the support of these associations or institutions.

German-speaking Community

The government of the German-speaking Community recognizes two regional cultural centres which receive greater financial support than the local centres, libraries and creative workshops.

Belgium/ 9. Sources and Links

9.1 Key documents on cultural policy

Flemish Community

Anciaux, Bert: Policy Note 2004-2009. Brussels, 2004.

Dillemans, Roger; Schramme, Annick: Wegwijs Cultuur. Leuven: Davidsfonds, 2005.

Elchardus, Marc; Huyse, Luc; Hooghe, Marc (red.): Het maatschappelijk middenveld in Vlaanderen. (The Civil Society in Flanders). Brussel: VUBPress, 2001. 

Esmans, Debbie; De Wit, Dirk: E-cultuur. Bouwstenen voor praktijk en beleid. (E-culture. Building blocks for practice and policy.) Leuven / Voorburg: Uitgeverij Acco, 2006.

Gielen, Pascal: Esthetica voor beslissers - aanzet tot een debat over een reflexief cultuurbeleid. (Aesthetics for decision makers - Initial impetus to a debate about a reflexive cultural policy). Tielt: Uitgeverij Lannoo, Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap Administratie Cultuur, 2001.

Gielen, Pascal; Laermans, Rudi: Een omgeving voor actuele kunst) Een toekomstperspectief voor het beeldende-kunstenlandschap. (A context for contemporary art. Perspective for the visual arts sector). Tielt: Uitgeverij Lannoo, 2004.

Kunstenloket: The Status of the Artist. 2006. D/2006/10.738/1. 

Laermans, Rudi: Het cultureel regime. Cultuur en beleid in Vlaanderen.(The cultural regime. Culture and Policy in Flanders.) Brussel: Uitgeverij Lannoo nv, Tielt en het Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap, Administratie Cultuur, 2002. 

Laermans, Rudi; Lievens, John; Waege, Hans (Red.):  Aanzetten voor cultuuronderzoek in Vlaanderen. Steunpunt Re-creatief Vlaanderen, uitgeverij. (Impetus for cultural research in Flanders.) Reeks Cultuurkijker. Antwerpen: De Boeck, 2003. 

Lievens, John; Waege, Hans; De Meulemeester, Han: Cultuurparticipatie gewikt en gewogen. Basisgegevens van de survey "Cultuurparticipatie in Vlaanderen 2003-2004". (Cultural participation measured). Reeks Cultuurkijker. Antwerpen: De Boeck, 2005

Lievens, John; Waege, Hans (ed.): Cultuurparticipatie in breedtebeeld. Eerste analyses van de survey "ultuurparticipatie in Vlaanderen 2003-2004". (Cultural participation in wide screen). Reeks Cultuurkijker. Antwerpen: De Boeck, 2005

Loose, Maxime; Lamberts, Miet: Aanzet tot een monitoringinstrument voor de artistieke sector. Leuven: HIVA, 2006 . (Synopsis available in English: Art and knowledge - A tentative monitoring tool for the arts sector)

Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap: VRIND 2006, Vlaamse regionale indicatoren. (Flemish regional indicators) Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap. 2006. 

Van der Hoeven, Quirine : De grens als spiegel. Een vergelijking van het cultuurbestel in Nederland en Vlaanderen. (The border as a mirror. A comparison of the cultural system in the Netherlands and Flanders).

French Community

Faits & Gestes, Débats & Recherche en Communauté française Wallonie-Bruxelles: L'évolution des dépenses culturelles de la Communauté française : 1981 à 2001. Bruxelles: Ministère de la Communauté française, n°10, July, August, September 2003. 

Faits & Gestes, Débats & Recherches en Communauté française Wallonie-Bruxelles: the evolution of the cultural expenditure of the French Community: 1981 to 2001. Brussels: Ministry of the French Community, n°10, July. August / September 2003. 

Faits & Gestes, Débats & Recherche en Communauté française Wallonie-Bruxelles: Educaitonal investments (educational, cultural and in sports) of families. Brussels: Ministry of the French Community, n°1, September 2000. 

Faits & Gestes, Débats & Recherche en Communauté française Wallonie-Bruxelles: Outlook on the cultural spending in Belgium and in the French Community. Brussels: Ministry of the French Community, n°13, April, May and June 2004. 

Observatory of cultural policies under the direction of de Jaumain Michel and Paque Régine: Evolution of the French Community's cultural spending 1981-2001. Brussels: Ministry of the French Community:, 2003. 

General department for audiovisual and multimedia: Audiovisual Directory. Brussels: Belgian French Community / Edimedia, 2003. 

General department for audiovisual and multimedia: A documentary on the French Community 1997-2003. Brussels: Ministry of the French Community, 2004. 

General department for audiovisual and multimedia: Report on the production, promotion and diffusion of audiovisual and cinema broadcasting, 2004. Brussels: Ministry of the French Community, 2005. 

Directorate General for Culture: Actes du colloque Culture & société. Bruxelles: Ministère de la Communauté française, 1996. 

Directorate General for Culture: Culture and citizenship for sustainable cultural development. Brussels: Ministry of the French Community, Culture and Continuing Education Collection, n° 6, 2002. 

Directorate General for Culture: Culture in the French Community, The cultural policies developed by the Directorate General for Culture. Brussels: Ministry of the French Community, 2004. 

Mairesse François: The policy for museums in the French Community. CRISP, weekly courier n° 1635, 1999. 

Report on continuing education - 2001-2003. Brussels: Culture and Continuing Education Collection, n° 8, 2002. 

PAC publication in Les Cahiers de l'Education permanente: Actes du Forum Libérer la Culture. Brussels: PAC - Luc Pire Editions, quarterly, January, February, March 2004. 

PAC publication in Les Cahiers de l'Education permanente: Culture et démocratie. Bruxelles: PAC - Luc Pire Editions, quarterly, January, February, March 2000. 

PAC publication in Les Cahiers de l'Education permanente: Culture voix et voies. Contributions à un débat sur les enjeux culturels. Bruxelles: PAC - Luc Pire Editions, quarterly, summer 2003. 

PAC publication in Les Cahiers de l'Education permanente: L'associatif moteur de changement. Brussels: ACCS Editions, quarterly, October, November, December 2001. 

PAC publication in Les Cahiers de l'Education permanente: Nouvelles technologies et culture. Brussels: ACCS Editions, quarterly, October, November, December 1998. 

De Wasseige Alain, Communauté Bruxelles-Wallonie: Quelles politiques culturelles?. (Which cultural policies?) Gerpinnes: Quorum sprl, 2000. 

White paper on contemporary architecture in the French Community, under the direction of Genard Jean-Louis and Lhoas Pablo: Qui a peur de l'architecture? (Who's Afraid of Architecture?). Brussels: La lettre volée, 2004. 

Genard Jean-Louis: Les pouvoirs de la culture. (The Power of Culture). Brussels: Labor, Quartier Libre:, 2001. (

Burnotte, P. et Dupont, C.: la sécurité sociale belge et les artistes. SMARTasbl, 9 décembre 2001. 

Burnotte, P. et Dupont, C.: la fiscalité des revenus issus de l'activité artistique. SMART asbl, 9 décembre 2001. 

Carnoy, G.: le nouveau statut social des artistes. le 14 février 2004. 

Demine, J.: le statut social de l'artiste en Belgique. 17 févirer 2004,

Belgium/ 9. Sources and Links

9.2 Key organisations and portals

Flemish Community

Cultural policy making bodies

Web site of the Flemish Community

Cultural statistics and research

Consortium of Cultural Researchers

Cultural Statistics - Flanders

Culture / arts portals

Flemish Centre for Cultural Communication

Information on cultural activities in Flanders and Brussels

Local cultural policy

Public Libraries

Socio-cultural Sector


Steunpunt Jeugd

Youth International

Arts portals

Business and legal advice for artistic professions

Amateur arts


Audiovisual arts



Performing arts

Visual arts

Portal of Cultural heritage

Support centres for cultural heritage

Portal of Museums in Flanders and Brussels

French Community

Ministry of the French Community

Information on publications

Observatory for cultural policies

Portal of the Directorate General of Culture

General States of Culture / Etats généraux de la culture

Music: Wallonia-Brussels Musique

Theatre: Wallonia-Brussels Theatre

Literature: Guide to Belgian literature

Public libraries

Endogenous regional languages

Museums: inventory of collections

Portal of museums in Wallonia

Website for museums and society in Wallonia

Website of Brussels museums

Superior Council for the Audiovisual Sector




General Commission for International Relations

German-speaking Community

Portal of the German-speaking Community

Belgian Radio and Television Centre

Eastern Belgian Festival

Chudoscnik Sunergia

Sankt Vith Continuing Education

Eupen Cultural Committee

Eupen City Museum

Kelmis Göhltal Museum

Raeren Pottery Museum

Sankt Vith Museum

International Art Centre of Eastern Belgium

Agora, the Theatre of the German-speaking Community

Compagnie Irene K

German-speaking Community Education Server

Parliament of the German-speaking Community


The Council of Europe/ERICarts "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 9th edition", 2008