Artists across Belgium face heat wave to demonstrate against lack of support
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Artists across Belgium face heat wave to demonstrate against lack of support

Credit: State of the Arts / Facebook

As the country faces a heatwave, artists across Belgium took to the streets at 2:00 PM on Thursday and turned themselves into living statues.

The coordinated action was to denounce the authorities’ immobility and the lack of support to the sector, the Society of Authors of Performing arts, Audiovisual Fiction, Radio and Web (SACD) and the Civil Society of Multimedia Authors (Scam).

The time they chose coincides with the moment the plenary session in the House of Representatives is scheduled to begin. A week ago, parliamentarians failed to agree on aid for workers in the cultural sector, which was hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.

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The coordinated action took place at the same time in Brussels, Charleroi, La Louvière, Liège, Mons, Namur, Tournai, Antwerp, Ghent and Leuven. Some 50 organisations in the cultural sector are behind the event.

A bill was tabled by the Socialist Party to suspend the reduction of unemployment benefits in the event they’re combined with income from artistic activity, and to make it easier to obtain the official statute of artist.

However, N-VA and Vlaams Belang along with the Flemish Christian-democrats and liberals asked that the text first be examined by the Council of State, without requesting urgency. N-VA’s Björn Anseeuw requested the opinion of the Court of Auditors on the grounds of the “considerable budgetary impact” of the proposal.

The organisers regret the slowness of those calling the shots, but they also consider certain proposals to be problematic. For example, the extension of temporary unemployment to intermittent workers is “inapplicable given the administrative blockages” such workers face.

The draft law is expected to be put to the vote again on 9 July, which is the week in which the opinions of the Council of State and the Court of Auditors are expected to be delivered.

Jason Spinks

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