New loan schemes to support art and culture in Flanders


Agreement provides microcredit for professionals in the cultural sector and people who want to buy Flemish art

Artful money

New mechanisms to get more money into Flemish culture were agreed this week by culture minister Sven Gatz and social investment fund Hefboom. The deal will see the creation of two new kinds of loan to support cultural and artistic undertakings in Flanders.

The first initiative will offer loans up to a maximum of €100,000 to professionals in the cultural sector who have a project to develop. The scheme is a microcredit counterpart to the Cultuurinvest programme, operated by the Participatiemaatschappij Vlaanderen (PMV), which only begins at the €100,000 mark.

Individuals will be able to borrow up to €15,000 interest-free, while rates between 2% and 3% apply for larger amounts and for organisations. Hefboom will operate the loan scheme in collaboration with the Cultuurloket, which in turn will offer training for people and organisations who want to apply.

The second initiative will provide interest-free loans between €500 and €7,000 to people who want to buy the work of living Flemish artists. This scheme was first announced in December last year, with the appointment of non-profit organisation Kunst in Huis to manage the scheme and provide quality control. Appointing Hefboom to provide the loans completes the arrangement.

Culture is social

Hefboom supports social and sustainable projects in Flanders and Brussels, particularly working with entrepreneurs and companies without access to conventional bank loans. While this has included some cultural entrepreneurs, it has not yet operated dedicated services in culture.

"Cultural organisations tend to seek a positive social impact over purely financial returns, so Hefboom is happy to support these new supplementary forms of financing for the cultural sector," said Piet Callens, who is in charge of financing at the fund.

For Gatz (pictured) the announcement is a further step in a policy of bringing additional sources of finance to the cultural sector, alongside government subsidies. "The additional financing that we have put in place makes investing in culture more attractive and cheaper for everyone, from large companies to private individuals," he said.