Antwerp's latest city council session started on Monday evening under loud protest from representatives of the arts sector, who demonstrated at the entrance to city hall.
Mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA) went through the agenda as planned and things were calm inside the building, but De Wever had the greatest difficulty hearing fellow council members.
The culture sector had also protested last week - almost daily - against cuts planned by the city council. These include slashing subsidies for culture-related projects to help pay the city’s skyrocketing energy bill and index-linked wages.
Alderwoman for Culture Nabilla Ait Daoud (N-VA) said project subsidies were not a core task of the city. However, sector representatives countered that the funds – €720,000 per year – are especially important for young artistes to support the start of their careers.
Consultations have so far yielded nothing. The series of protests, which have been accompanied by speeches, performances and music, have enjoyed the support of many well-known artistes in recent days.
These include Jan Decleir, Tom Lanoye, Els Dottermans and Peter Van den Begin, who all encouraged the mostly young protesters.