Flemish artists boo government leader Jan Jambon at Music Industry Awards
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Flemish artists boo government leader Jan Jambon at Music Industry Awards

Flemish government leader and culture minister has been facing backlash for artists after slapping culture sector with budgetary cuts. Credit: Twitter screengrab

The Flemish Music Industry Awards (MIA) on Thursday culminated in a moment of on-stage malaise, as an audience of artists and industry members booed Jan Jambon, the leader of the Flemish government, as he strutted on stage.

Brought on stage to present the award for the Song of the Year, Jambon, who also heads the Flemish ministry of culture, was greeted by a wave of disapproving boos and whistles.

The art and cultures sector in Flanders has been up in a rage since the Jambon government hit it with a series of budget cuts, with artists united behind a “the state of the arts” online campaign to denounce the cuts, some of which go up to 60%.

After a shake of hands, Jambon’s exchange with the awards host, TV presenter Steven Van Herreweghe, was quickly drowned out by the audience.

Following a few seconds of standing facing the audience as the booing crescendoed, Van Herreweghe sought to dispell some tension by launching a brief exchange with Jambon.

“How are things at work?” the host asked, but Jambon’s reply that things were “calm” was still drowned out by the audience, prompting the TV host to wonder about their booing out loud, before stepping back to allow the show to continue.

The Flemish culture minister went on to announce that Brussels singer Angèle would take the award for her single “Tout Oublier,” the fifth award of the night for the Francophone star.

Hosted by public broadcaster VRT, the MIAs traditionally bring a member of the Flemish government to present an award.

Jambon’s appearance at the 2020 edition was the “best concert of the evening,” according to one Twitter user, while another pointed out that, barring the appearance of singer Arno, the booing was the “highlight the evening.”

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times