Culture sector faces budget cuts

Summary

As the Flemish Parliament approves the budget laid out in Monday’s September Declaration, the culture sector learns how much subsidies it will lose

7.5% maximum

Cultural organisations in Flanders will see a cut in their budgets by as much as 7.5% over the next two years, said Flemish culture minister Sven Gatz (pictured) in a meeting with Overleg Kunstenorganisaties (Oko), the body that represents the cultural sector in Flanders.

“The minister said that the cuts were lower in percentage than those being applied in neighbouring countries,” said Oko in a memo to its members.

The key cultural organisations – such as Opera Vlaanderen, Ballet Vlaanderen and deSingel – are set to lose the least amount, with budgets to fall by about 2.5%, while museums and heritage organisations would lose some four percent of their subsidy.

Organisations that benefitted from support under the Kunstendecreet (Arts Decree) would see the biggest drop, amounting to 7.5% in their government subsidy. Oko warned Gatz that the cuts would have “serious negative consequences” for organisations that already face financial difficulties and that they would almost certainly be forced to lay off staff.

“The minister emphasised that he was confident that the cultural landscape would remain secure despite the measures,” Oko said. The new measures will apply until the government approves a new Arts Decree in 2016.

In related news, the Flemish Parliament approved the budget announced by minister-president Geert Bourgeois last Monday during the annual September Declaration. The voting went along party lines, with the majority parties – N-VA, CD&V and Open Vld – voting in favour of a budget that needs to save €1.16 billion.

A lively debate preceded the vote, with SP.A’s opposition leader, John Crombez, asking: “What was the moment that you began to see Flemings as a troublesome cost?” Groen fraction leader Bjorn Rzoska, meanwhile, said: “Saving, saving, saving and more saving is the mantra of this government. But what else do they want to do?”

The majority pointed out that they were able to make the necessary savings in order to balance the budget without raising taxes. “I already perceive optimism and hope in society at large,” said Bourgeois.

As the Flemish Parliament approves the budget laid out in Monday’s September Declaration, the culture sector learns how much subsidies it will lose.

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Government of Flanders

Belgium is a federal state with several regional governments. The northern, Dutch-speaking region of Flanders is governed by the Flemish government, which was created when the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community joined forces in 1980. A minister-president presides over the government of Flanders, and Brussels is the capital city.
Competences - The government of Flanders is responsible for the economy, foreign trade, health care, energy, housing, agriculture, environmental concerns, public works and transport, employment policy, culture, education and science and innovation. Flanders also has the power to sign international treaties in these competencies.
Sole legislator - The powers of the Flemish government and of the federal government do not overlap. Therefore, only one government serves as legislator for each policy area. Flemish laws are called decrees. Decrees apply in co-ordination with federal laws.
Official holiday - 11 July is the official holiday of the Flemish Community, in commemoration of the Battle of the Golden Spurs in Kortrijk on 11 July 1302, when Flemings defeated the army of the French king. Flanders’ official anthem is “De Vlaamse Leeuw” (The Flemish Lion).
6

million people live in the Flemish Region.

5

provinces constitute the Flemish Region: West Flanders, East Flanders, Flemish Brabant, Antwerp and Limburg.

5

number of years for which the Flemish Parliament is elected. Its elections coincide with those of the European Parliament.