Public policies and support schemes

In Belgium there is no national policy on culture as this domain is under the authorisation of the different communities: the Flemish Community, the Walloon Community, and the German speaking Community – a division based on the three official languages in the country.

According to the Flemish Research Department the total budget for Culture in 2014 was 482,027,000 Euro, which means 1.8% of the total Flemish budget. There is no official recognition for street arts as an art form in itself. The professional arts in Flanders are supported in the region under the Arts Decree, which divided 94,243,158 Euro between 256 organisations in 2014. Since 2008 circus has had its own decree. This decree wants to support all forms of circus – classical as well as new forms, amateurs and professionals – and includes measures to finance production and creation, education, dissemination (including travel grants for artists to perform internationally), festivals and promotion. There is no structural support for organisations at the moment, nor additional support for EU supported projects (as is the case in the Arts Decree); however, the decree is currently being reviewed. The new Circus Decree is expected to be implemented somewhere around the end of 2017. 28 organisations and 16 individuals divided a total subvention of 2,305,599 Euro from the Circus Decree in 2014. cjsm.be/cultuur

In the annual report ‘Focus 2014’ covering the General Administration for Culture of the Walloon-Brussels Federation, it states that the total budget for Culture that year was 291,867,118 Euro, or around 3% of the total budget of the Walloon Government. 90,905,821 Euro were spent on ‘Arts de la scène’ or the performing arts, which include theatre, music, dance and ‘carnival arts, circus and street arts’. This last category was good for 2% of that amount (1,254,954 Euro). www.culture.be

Since the state reforms of 2014, support for Culture from provincial governments has decreased annually and the idea is that in time it will cease to exist completely. On a local level the cities are also an important support system for the arts, each one deciding on its own priorities and policy.

In Belgium, support for the arts mostly depends on the government. Private sponsorship is not as common as in some other European countries. The National Lottery is controlled by the government, and is obliged to contribute part of its profit back to society through funding and sponsorship of culture, sports, science and social projects.

Surveys on audiences

The study department of the Flemish government keeps Excel overviews with numbers on culture and audiences.

The Agency for Social Cultural Work asks cultural centres to give them data on cultural participation and audience development, which is bundled together in a yearly publication.

More interesting is the research published in 2015 by professor John Lievens from Ugent – Ghent University – on participation in cultural activities based on a survey done in 2014.