Artists boo and hurl tomatoes at Flemish government leader Jan Jambon
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    Artists boo and hurl tomatoes at Flemish government leader Jan Jambon

    Artists hurled tomatoes at Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon at a cultural awards ceremony, protesting budget cuts to the arts and culture sector. © Belga

    Flemish government leader Jan Jambon received yet another cold welcome from the arts sector after artists booed and hurled tomatoes at him during the Flemish Culture Awards less than a week after a similar incident at another award show.

    Jambon, who is also cultural minister, was received with a wave of boos when he joined the ceremony’s host on stage to give a speech as the Ultima award ceremony came to a close on Tuesday.

    A decision by his government to implement significant budget cuts to the arts and cultures sector has sparked outrage within the community, which has called out the decision both online and on the streets.

    Shortly after the regional minister-president and culture minister stepped on stage to address the crowd at the end of the awards, he was hit by a wave of disapproving boos.

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    When the awards show attempted to calm the audience by questioning Jambon over the budget cuts, noting how some allowances for Flemish MPs largely surpassed the budget of subsidies for the arts, Jambon’s answer didn’t play well with the audience.

    “That is a debate that you can never win,” Jambon said, according to HLN, prompting the booing to intensify and a member of the crowd to yell “fascist!” before the crowd started throwing a handful of tomatoes at him.

    During the Ultima awards on Tuesday, held in Bruges, several artists denounced Jambon’s policy in their acceptance speeches, with the recipient of the Performing Arts awards telling the audience that they depended on subsidies to continue doing their projects in the Brussels-based Decoratelier.

    Squashed tomatoes were littered across the stage following Jambon’s intervention, which comes less than two weeks before a speech he gave at the Flemish Music Awards was equally drowned out by the audience’s, who booed him when he stepped on stage.

    Upon announcing the budget cuts, the Jambon government said the aim was to promote “new accents” in the cultural sector as well as to enable a more “judicious distribution of money.”

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times