Government cuts cultural project subsidies by 60%


Movers and shakers in the cultural sector spent the weekend discussing the culture minister’s new policy memo, which rewards museums but sees punishing cuts for first works

Less for projects, more for archives

Minister-president Jan Jambon, also responsible for culture in the Flemish government, has published his policy plan for the coming four years. As expected based on the government accord, culture subsidies will be cut by 6% in total.

The details now reveal that the seven officially recognised Flemish cultural institutions – KVS, Ancienne Belgique, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Royal Ballet Flanders, deSingel, Vooruit, Concertgebouw Brugge and Vlaams Radiokoor – will have their structural subsidies cut by 3% each.

Project subsidies within the sector, however, will be cut by 60% from €8.5 to €3.4 million. Project subsidies involve funding of specific initiatives in theatre, music and arts centres across Flanders and Brussels, as well as grants for individuals to realise a project. They are often awarded to theatre directors, for instance, to create a play or to musicians to launch a first tour.

“The project policy … must not create the illusion that they automatically become structural subsidies,” reads Jambon’s policy memo. “Priority will be given based on the potential of the project to reach an international audience. More selective choices for these subsidies will also mean better support for those chosen.”

Project subsidies are essential in safeguarding the future of the sector – and the level of excellence that the policy memo refers to

- KVS artistic director Michael De Cock

Project subsidies “ensure that young talent can create their first work, take their first steps towards a professional career,” said KVS artistic director Michael De Cock in response to the policy memo. “That is essential in safeguarding the future of the sector – and the level of excellence that the policy memo refers to.”

There is good news, however, for Flanders Audiovisual Fund, which supports film, television and gaming, and Flanders Literature, which promotes authors and translations of their work. Both organisations will receive more structural funding, according to the policy memo.

Three Limburg concerns – cultural centre Z33, open-air museum Bokrijk and the Alden Biesen culture and conference centre – will also receive additional funding.

The policy memo also refers to “new incentives” for the heritage sector, “the DNA of our society”. Across the five years of the administration, this sector – which includes museums, monuments and archives – will see some €878,000 extra.

Photo: Limburg’s B-Classic Festival was one of the recipients of a project subsidy this year