When the Flemish Government announced the budget cuts in the cultural sector on 8 November, SOTA organized an action meeting in Beursschouwburg, which was attended by 2000 people.
What does the Culture Policy Document say? Read about the choices of the policy summarized by Kunstenpunt here.
Although SOTA started as a response to the brutal cuts in cultural subsidies, we want to broaden our scope to the wider civil society. From the very beginning in the Beursschouwburg, solidarity has emerged as a core value. We want to take this solidarity seriously and commit ourselves to a systemic change.
On November 12 SOTA called for protest in front of the Flemish parliament. Minister of Culture and Minister-President Jan Jambon explained there his plans in front of the Commission of Culture. This was an opportunity to show our disagreement before 19th of December when the parliament might finally accept the policy document of culture 2019-2024 by Jan Jambon. Jan Jambon wants to save 60% on project fundings, 6% for the organizations and 3% for the large institutions. Hundreds of people let their voices be heard that day.
On November 28 another discussion was taking place about the cutback plans in the Commission of Culture at the Flemish Parliament. More than 1500 people joined the protest.
The Minister of Culture announced that the Flemish Government will not change its general plans to cut funding on art and culture. He spread a very vague message around the drastic savings of 60% on project subsidies. He stated, that in the next future, he will look at “possible shifts within the current framework of the budgets as proposed now”. At the end of the debate, Jan Jambon’s proposal of 3% art institutions, 6% savings on organisations, 60% savings on project subsidies was definitively approved by the majority parties N-VA, CDV and Open VLD. We are very disappointed with these three parties. The debate and vote did not bring the arts and culture sector any further.
Watch the video of the commission here.
“I’m very worried. On the one hand, this government wants to make the most of the ‘excellence’ of the arts, but on the other hand, it is making ill-considered and drastic savings in the cultural sector in order to be able to set certain emphases. However, by virtually abolishing the project’s subsidies, it is first and foremost the artists who are the victims of this. What does this drastic choice tell us about the vision of the new culture minister?”Kobe Matthys
“People don’t buy his policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Yesterday we went out on the streets again in large numbers. The solidarity with the culture sector is unseen and there is energy for a long-term struggle.”Gaea Schoeters
“These savings put the sector as a whole once again under pressure. There are already so many artists and performers who are sitting on their gums. Above all, nobody is served with a defacement in 2021. The government want us to excel? Well, then they will have to have the courage to invest more. Now it looks like stagnation and decline.”Tom Kestens
“The big question is: what will the future bring? Because everywhere, in all sectors of society, savings are being made with devastating consequences. This is causing a shockwave through Flanders. These measures affect our civil society, our socio-cultural associations, our ethnic-cultural minority organisations, our journalism and our arts. The sum of all these factors is worrying”.Els Silvrants-Barclay
On December 19, the day the Flemish government takes its decision over catastrophic budget cuts, we are making our voice heard for a warm, fair and solidary society, and we invite everyone to show that a different policy is both necessary ànd possible. We ask that a government uses public funds in priority for projects that contribute to the general wellbeing of everyone in society.
The Flemish Parliament will now vote on the entire budget for 2020-25. The government has not listened to the massive protests of the past few weeks and is continuing with its austerity policy. We are voting against this vote with a collective march by various sectors and are singing in favour of the alternative. We are showing and will continue to show that we are joining forces for this.
The budget discussions in parliament already start at 9:00 am. As in previous actions, we will form a delegation with people from different sectors to follow the plenary session. We will also set up a citizens parliament at the visitors’ centre of the Flemish Parliament (Ijzerenkruisstraat 99, 1000 Brussels). Everyone who wants to know more or wants to get to know people from other sectors is welcome. At 16:45 the centre closes and we join the march.
16:30 We gather at Brussels-Central
17:00 March to the Flemish Parliament
17:15 We make our voices heard, all the way to parliament.
19:00 No tweets, no screaming, we form a mega choir.