Weareculture

STATE OF THE ARTS, fiction or non-fiction?

| 26 November 2019
The past few weeks it was all over the news: the cultural sector in Flanders, of which the arts sector is a part, is confronted with an enormous cut in the budget. Again.

This is the umpteenth cut since 2009 and it is part of a pruning operation that also affects other groups: families, socio-cultural organizations, media, civil society...

As an arts sector, we are in solidarity with the vulnerable in our society and are prepared to make a contribution in principle. But there are limits to our resilience: this new round of budget cuts is disproportionate, not judiciously substantiated and simply disastrous.

In short, the Flemish government intends to cut 60% in project subsidies, and 6% in the majority of the sector. The effect of this would be disastrous for several reasons.

The creative sector employs 171,265 people and creates an added value of 12.5 billion. This means that we are doing better economically than the chemical or automotive industries. Moreover, culture only accounts for a very small part of the Flemish budget: less than one and a half percent. The arts sector receives a further fraction of this.

And that in a region that likes to boast with the baseline: Flanders, State of the Art.

Despite this relatively small investment, our arts and artists have built up an international reputation over the past few decades that many countries envy us for. Our arts are also deeply interwoven with our culture, in all kinds of areas: on stages, in cinemas, on television, in museums, in literature, in the amateur arts, etcetera.

A pruning operation of 60% and 6% respectively is therefore unacceptable.

The creative sector employs 171,265 people and creates an added value of 12.5 billion.

The truth is that investments in art and culture also yield results, directly and indirectly.

Sufficient project subsidies are essential: for the younger generations and the established values of tomorrow. But, also, as an investment in artistic research – a function that has guaranteed for years that the arts in Flanders remain innovative and socially relevant. After all, there is a need for diversity in all senses of the word, in a world that is still globalizing – an effect that we also feel on a daily basis in Flanders.

The Flemish arts sector stands or falls by a healthy interaction between small and large, between experimental and classical, between young and old, between local and international.

We hope that you, as our audience, share our indignation and that you are willing to help us in our attempt to correct the announced round of budget cuts. Our culture is what we share, and our arts must be able to continue to play their unique role within it. As an invitation to reflect, to be empathetic, to be critical, to be happy, to be together.

​We hope that you, as our audience, share our indignation and that you are willing to help us in our attempt to correct the announced round of budget cuts.
THANK YOU.

Picture taken during the first action meeting of State of the Arts, 12 November 2019 © Beursschouwburg