Cultural centres, faced with “disinvestment”, raise alarm bells

All of the cultural centres in the Wallonia Brussels Federation (WBF), on Monday, raised the alarm in the face of the financial difficulties which they are encountering. The problems have particularly arisen owing to the “disinvestment” by the WBF, their main funder.

In 2013, the sector underwent reorganisation by means of a new decree without, for all that, appropriate funding being in put in place. Matteo Segers, the Director of the Association for Cultural Centres (“ACC”), particularly flagged up, “We had to wait 1,224 days for a sector funding plan to be produced.” He was speaking during a hearing of the Federation Parliament Culture Committee.

He said that although the Minister for Culture, Alda Greoli, has since 2013 been committed to enhancing the sector, “this effort is problematic as the increase the sector receives is below indexation.” He criticised, “In reality, we will have to wait until 2021 to enjoy the same financial resources that we could access in 2011!”

In the meantime, several cultural centres are however thought to have been forced to make staff redundant, thus harming their cultural offer.

Faced with this situation, the cultural centres are demanding an economic study of their sector, improvement of their funding to meet the benchmarks fixed in 2013, the guarantee of indexation of their subsidies, as well as a multi-year budgetary programme for the future.

Faced with these complaints, Minister Greoli committed on Monday on the future indexation of their grants. She was also willing to reopen discussions with the sector around its funding.

At the present time, the WBF has a total of 118 cultural centres, including 12 in the capital.

These institutions, which are of highly varying sizes, depending upon their location, employ a little under one thousand FTEs (full-time equivalent employees) in total.

They are the primary network for professional cultural dissemination in the WBF with more than 3,500 shows per year, attracting in total a little under 1.5 million audience members.

The Brussels Times

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