Minister announces €235 million for cultural heritage


Open Monument Day was a risk this year, but a success nonetheless, with 290,000 visitors taking to the region’s historical buildings

Reddingboot 3

Churches, castles and cobblestones

During yesterday’s Open Monument Day, Flemish heritage minister Matthias Diependaele (N-VA) announced that €235 million in funding has been approved for restorations and upkeep of cultural heritage properties. The funding is the total amount being invested in immovable cultural heritage for the coming legislature.

By province, East Flanders is receiving the most money, with €62 million going to 113 projects. “East Flanders is of course home to Ghent, which is an art city par excellence,” said Diependaele. “It has Sint-Baafs Cathedral, of course, where a new visitor centre is currently under construction. But there’s also the Flemish Ardennes, where we are shoring up the Tour of Flanders route, including laying some new cobblestones.”

Open Monument Day was limited this year because of the coronavirus crisis, but many historical sites across Flanders were still open for the public. There were also several bike and walking tours, with QR-codes that visitors could scan for information about monuments and heritage sites along the way.

People find it important that cultural heritage is a part of their everyday lives

- Minister Matthias Diependaele

Some 290,000 people were recorded visiting historical buildings open yesterday, while another 50,000 scanned QR-codes or took part in another of the event’s digital initiatives. Flanders’ heritage agency Herita is quite happy with the figures, considering Open Monument Day during a normal year sees about 400,000 people taking part.

“People find it important that cultural heritage is a part of their everyday lives and expect that the government plays its part in that,” said Diependaele, who spent his first Open Monument Day yesterday as heritage minister. “We see that local councils are also really involved in taking up this task.”

Photo: The Reddingboot 3 in Ostend, a rescue craft dating from 1948, was a popular site during Open Monument Day. Visitors could climb aboard and learn about the efforts to restore the boat, which offered assistance to ships stranded at sea until 1980
©Danny Drooghenbroodt/Herita