Dear friends, cool lovers and activists,
Tired, but also strengthened by the enormous solidarity that we feel, we look back on the events that have awakened our recent protest:
09/11/19: Minister-president and Minister of Culture Jan Jambon wants to save severely in culture. He will cut no less than 60% of the project subsidies in the culture sector.
12/11/19: 2000 people gather in Beursschouwburg. Outraged, but determined: we won’t let them pull us apart.
14/11/19: The Culture Committee discusses the drastic budget cuts. Because of our street protest Jambon declares to be open for an alternative budget.
14/11/19: #ditisonspubliek #thisisouraudience. The artists of Salon Secret (Lazarus, Hof Van Eede and Kopergietery) ask the audience to join them on stage after their performance about the revolution in CC Zwaneberg in Heist-op-den-Berg as an act of support for all touched sectors. In the following weeks, 10,000 people will be coming on stage in more than 100 venues… as well in the Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Spain. see the pictures.
22/11/19: Joachim Pohlmann, the silent force in N-VA’s communication network, becomes Head of Cabinet Culture.
28/11/19: During the next Culture Committee we are in front of, around and in parliament with 3000 activists. Inside, Luc Tuymans, Eva De Roovere, Piet Maris, Reinhilde and Jan Decleir make it clear: these savings are killing the sector. watch the interviews
Jambon: “Changing the budget is not possible now. There will be a budget review in February – March”. For N-VA, CD&V and Open VLD, this message is enough to approve the drastic cuts in culture.
05/12/19: #VuurWerk. The protests extend to other sectors. Together with the VRT and civil society, we raise our voices on the doorstep of the Flemish Government.
19/12/19: Hear Our Voice. The parliament remains deaf, but our voices are heard. A long and toxic discussion in parliament yields nothing. Without any explanation, the 2020 budget proposal is approved by the majority parties. Two amendments concerning culture are voted down. Nevertheless, politicians who are committed to us let it be known that they feel strengthened by the protests.
And just when we thought we could hang our yellow, pink, blue, green, purple and orange shirts in the tree for a few days, we reached the ultimate Christmas present from Jambon I:
24/12/19: Cancelation of the participation projects for disadvantaged groups. Pats kaboom. Without consultation, without announcement, without ever been discussed in the Culture Committee, without any policy document.
Only days before, actress Maaike Neuville reported on her observations in the Flemish Parliament, reinforced by a firm opinion of author Gaea Schoeters and Flemish Parliamentarian Tom De Meester (PVDA) , in which the annoyances about the state of affairs were not concealed.
All the more so because artist Kobe Matthys managed to uncover another delicate detail. Claiming his right for public access to information, he requested documents on 2 December, which would explain the decision on the government’s savings. On 22 December, he received a reply saying that the Cabinet could not provide any documents on the subject.
For SOTA, Els Silvrants-Barclay, along with others, formulated a fierce opinion in De Morgen in which we questioned this contempt for the basic principles of good governance.
What are the next steps?
On Tuesday the 7th of January, we meet again in Beursschouwburg, from 19:00 to 23:00. Together we’ll draw up the agenda for 2020.
On Wednesday the 15th of January, Jan Jambon will announce which applications will be honored for subsidies and the amount that will be available for the next deadline of 15th of March. We will for sure make ourselves heard again.
On Tuesday the 28th of January the ABVV organizes a manifestation for a stronger social security.
From January to March, the cabinet of Jambon will be working on the vision note. What should be in there? Join us at the weekly SOTA meetings!
On Wednesday the 1st of April Jambon will be presenting his vision note in the Flemish Parliament. Book your seat in the visitors’ tribune via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, we’re allowed a compliment… Vice selected SOTA as one of Belgium’s eight leading activists of 2019.
But there’s still a lot of work to be done. In the short, medium and long term. Both internally, to strengthen SOTA from the inside, as well as from the outside: we want and will keep our voices be heard.
And that’s why we count on your time, skills, network and energy!
Don’t let go of SOTA now.
We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.