Several hundred people demonstrated on Thursday in front of the Flemish Parliament where Minister-President Jan Jambon, in charge of Culture, was to announce the detail of savings he will impose on the sector.
The extent of the budgetary cuts which the government coalition of the Flemish nationalist party N-VA, centrist CD&V, and liberal Open VLD intends to impose on the cultural sector was unveiled on Saturday.
The new government will implement a 6% reduction in operating subsidies (except for seven recognised art institutions where the cuts would be limited to 3%). The project subsidies will decrease by about 60%, from €8.47 million in 2019 to €3.39 million in 2020.
“The total budget for art in the Flemish government is only 0.35%. That is peanuts, nothing. I understand that more money is going to bigger productions, but where do you think the people in those productions come from? They also once graduated from an art school and started with small things. Only by supporting a multitude of voices, originality can be created. That basis is now being completely undermined,” said theatre director Ivo Van Hove and choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker in an open letter published in De Standaard.
The shock was terrible for the sector. Some 2,000 supporters protested on Tuesday in front of the La Bourse theatre in Brussels (Beursschouwburg, multidisciplinary arts centre). On Thursday, the SMAK, the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, in Ghent has closed its doors in solidarity with the protests, reports VRT NWS.