Culture minister talks tech, games and art in California


Sven Gatz has returned from a week on America’s west coast, where he made plans for a major Rubens exhibition and pushed Netflix to support Flemish drama series

Minister wants tax shelter for gaming industry

Sven Gatz, the Flemish minister for culture and media, is back from a week-long visit to California that included meetings with tech giants, testing the latest computer games, and networking in the art world.

His first stop was the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, where he discussed future collaborations with its director, Max Hollein. The biggest is The Early Celebrity of Peter Paul Rubens, an exhibition planned for 2019 which will include some 80 works by the Flemish master, drawn from collections around the world.

The government of Flanders is providing €100,000 in support of the exhibition, which the museum hopes will be a blockbuster, drawing more than 175,000 visitors. Gatz told De Morgen that the exhibition was an ideal opportunity to bring the government’s Flemish Masters initiative to a wider audience and to make valuable contacts through the museum.

It is expected that “Christ on the Straw” from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp will be among the works making the journey to the west coast. Discussions are also in hand for a number of Flemish experts on Rubens to participate in the exhibition.

Turning to technology, Gatz took a tour of Silicon Valley, where he dropped in on companies such as Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon. At Netflix the main topic was how to encourage the company to invest more in Flemish drama series, while at Apple and Facebook he discussed privacy and new technologies.

He also visited the University of California, Berkeley, where he gave a guest lecture titled From Bruegel to Beer: the Belgian Paradox.

Gatz rounded off his visit with the Game Developers’ Conference in San Francisco, where he tried out games by Flemish delegates and discussed new measures to support the gaming industry. Talks are underway to bring games development into the Tax Shelter, a tax break for companies that invest in audio-visual productions or the performing arts. He also told VRT News that he hoped Flanders would have its own stand at the conference next year.

Photo: Minister Sven Gatz at the Game Developers’ Conference in San Francisco
©Sven Gatz/Twitter