Cultural subsidies for next five years announced


While stalwart cultural institutions such as the Ancienne Belgique and the Royal Ballet have a bit more to work with, other popular organisations will have to look elsewhere for funding

Winners and losers

Flemish culture minister Sven Gatz has announced the package of subsidies approved by the government for the coming five years. The total package amounts to just under €142 million shared by 207 organisations.

The package is €5.6 million more than the subsidies for the last five years, but the spread is narrower. More than 300 organisations applied for funding. Gatz stressed that the choices were based on the opinion of the advisory committee that examined each application.

Seven major institutions share €54 million among them, an increase of €2.3 million on the previous period. They are concert venue Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, Brussels Philharmonic, the Concertgebouw performance space in Bruges, Vooruit arts centre in Ghent, deFilharmonie and arts centre deSingel in Antwerp and, finally, Kunsthuis, the collective name for Opera Vlaanderen and Royal Ballet Flanders, also based in Antwerp.

Among the cultural organisations receiving no funding for the period are concert space Muziekodroom in Hasselt, cultural centre Vaartkapoen – better known as VK – in Molenbeek, Jan Decorte’s theatre company Bloet and vzw Kunst, which organises the annual Art Festival Watou in West Flanders.

“The Flemish arts scene is made up of large and medium-sized players, each with their own unique expertise,” Gatz said. “They are renowned nationally and internationally. But the landscape also includes a lot of smaller initiatives. The government’s decision is aimed at maintaining and strengthening the quality and diversity of the arts in Flanders.”

The opposition socialists criticised the package as a breach of promises made, accusing Gatz of failing to encourage new initiatives. Socialist party president John Crombez called it a “hammer blow” to the arts sector. “The minister is supposed to be the steward of our strong arts landscape and to fight within the Flemish government for the necessary resources,” he said. “In neither case has he succeeded.” 

Photo: Opera Vlaanderen’s award-winning 2015 production La Juive