Dear upcoming and proven talent,
Yesterday, maybe not by coincidence on April 1st, the new Art Decree is finally voted in the Cultural Commission of the Flemish Parliament. Can you still follow? What exactly will be different for artists? We give you a clear update.
Meanwhile, we keep on making noise, and we need you for it! In the coming weeks, the Minister still has to clarify some crucial issues concerning grants and project subsidies in his “Implemenatation Note”. Choose your way of putting pressure with us.
1) Decree voted, an update
No April fool’s joke: the new decree has been voted. The conclusion is bitter: this Flemish government has adopted a decree that did not take into account one single fundamental point of the criticism, expressed by almost the entire arts field. This stubbornly deaf operation is an historic rapture with the past. Moreover, many concrete provisions are being delegated to the so called ‘uitvoeringsbesluiten’, the implementing acts, right in the lap of the Minister, away from the parliamentary debate. This is not our decree.
What is now laid down by decree for artists?
- Artist and residency grants will be limited: in amount and in number per career. They are also split up into grants for ’emerging’ and ‘proven talent’. There will be a cutback on resourcing, deepening and lifelong learning.
- Scholarships can only be received by individual artists and can no longer be paid to and managed by organisations. Until now, the latter option has allowed the grant to be (partly) converted into much-needed remuneration and the accrual of social rights for some.
- For short-term funds (grants and projects), a fixed percentage of the structural funds is provided, but without including the budgets of the art institutions. Thus, the total budget on which this calculation is based, shrinks from 160 to 100 million.
- A new category of institutions sees the light: in exchange for 10 years of subsidy, they have to sign a direct management agreement with the minister. This means a further ‘betonneren’ of the existing budgets.
What is now at stake in the implementing acts?
- The exact number of grants per career, and the maximum amounts per grant. At first, there was talk of a maximum of 5 scholarships per career (2 for up-and-coming, 3 for proven talent) and historically low amounts (5,000 euros for up-and-coming, 10,000 euros for proven talent, so a maximum of 40,000 euros per career), but thanks to all the fuss, it seems that this will be raised. However, there are no guarantees yet.
The exact percentage for short-term subsidies (grants and projects). First, the minister wanted to keep it at 7.5%. That would be a steep drop (from about 10 million now to 7.5 million), and everyone in the sector knows that the funds are already completely inadequate. Thanks to all the pressure in recent weeks, 10% is now supposed to be on the table, but against all the sweet promises, that remains a pathetic status quo. For us, according to the new decree basis of calculation, 15% is the absolute minimum (5 million extra for scholarships and project subsidies), with the guarantee that the entire field contributes or the government makes up for it.
2) Five ways to raise your voice!
To force this Minister to keep his promises towards artists in his Implementation Note, we have to keep the public pressure high in the coming weeks. That’s why we go on with #dekreet! And you can help, whether you are a student, an artist, a cultural worker, an arts organisation or an art school. Share, share, share!
WHAT IS YOUR CHARACTER? CHOOSE YOUR OWN STYLE:
- Aesthete with humour? Choose your favouries from 8 cartoons 8 cartoons and already 20 dekreet-videos and share them. Playing bingo with Jambon is also an option, of course. You can find all stuff on our facebook-pagina.
- Unconventional creative? Just make your own video! Your cry will definitely sound even more creative than the rest. Read our call and guidelines, but do your own thing in the first place.
- Analytical mind? If first you need to know what the fuzz is all about before you bother others with it (and you read Dutch), don’t hesitate to use your Easter holiday to jump into our autonomy-opinion in Knack, our Knutseldecreet-opinion in De Standaard, our analysis about the percentage in rekto:verso, all about the grants by Kunstenpunt, or all our initial concerns (in English).
- Sensible soul? Read and share this touching letter from young artist Eva Van Tongeren to Jan Jambon on DeWereldMorgen. “Last night I couldn’t get asleep. Everything in society is totally focused on progress and growth, but in the Flemish arts policy, we seem to be taking steps backwards all the time.”
- Straight forward? Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org yourself, or share with him all your questions or remarks here. Although he’s a little deaf, don’t shout! Or just call an art organisation that you know and ask them to take a public stand with us.
Your future is determined today.
Don’t postpone it till tomorrow.
3) Save the date: 24th of april, Almamac #4
In 2021, SOTA will set out a series of daylong encounters, organized each last Saturday of the month on another location in Belgium and about a different topic – or question that lives within the art world these days. These issues are distributed over the calendar of the full year, taking the sensibilities of the various seasons into account.
CONGRESS OF OTHERS WITHIN
April is the month of opening up, budding and sprouting. What is the impact of the growing awareness of the ecological crisis into the arts? How to represent, invoke, and collaborate with non and more-than-humans that are also part of us? Some are creating institutes for the ocean, while others set up legal entities for the recognition of rivers or summon distressed beings during (caring) rituals.
More info will follow in a next newsletter