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Ministry of Culture pursues intercultural employment policies and launches a new information portal which records intercultural experiences.

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Belgium/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.7 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

Flemish Community

Since 2004, the Flemish government has made "living together in diversity" a priority, out of awareness that the Flemish society is unrecognizably and irrevocably characterised by diversity.

In 2006, the former Flemish Minister of Culture, Bert Anciaux, set up a plan in order to stimulate the cultural, youth and sport sector to work on "interculturalisation". This plan of action focused on ethnic-cultural diversity and aimed at promoting intercultural encounters through investments in an ethnic-culturally diversified and intercultural offer, in intercultural employment policies, including intercultural boards of directors and voluntary work, in intercultural advisory bodies and assessment committees, through partnerships and networks, and in cooperation with education & employment (see chapter 4.2.4).

Follow-up policy measures are currently under consideration. In her policy document for culture (2009-2014), the current Minister of Culture proposed an evaluation of the initiatives taken by her predecessor and has indicated she wants to raise awareness of the topic within the cultural field.

French-speaking Community of Belgium

The intercultural dimension is systematically incorporated into the programme contracts with the cultural operators: one of the stated aims of cultural policy is to guarantee cultural diversity in all action programmes.

Some units within the Culture Administration and several decrees relying on objectives of cultural participation (youth, continuing education and creativity) focus their support as a priority on actions and projects by associations conducted with an eye to respecting and valuing cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.

As part of the European year of intercultural dialogue in 2008, a seminar bringing together scientists, teachers, school mediators and cultural players led to the publication in 2012 of ‘Conceptions du dialogue interculturel’. It can be accessed via permanente.

In 2012, an Anti-racism Platform was set up on an initiative by the Minister of Culture. It has set itself the remit of collating and networking initiatives taken by cultural associations in the French-speaking Community of Belgium which are dedicated to countering racism. The objective is to deliver some proposals for concrete anti-racism actions.

The platform’s main purpose is to work with the players on the ground to identify new forms and expressions of racism in Belgian society and to encourage practices being implemented to combat racism.

Two issues/projects have been given priority: raising awareness of the battle against racism in schools, and respect for different belief systems.

Since 2013, this platform has been managed by an association, the Brussels Intercultural Action Centre. This is an umbrella for sixty or so associations in the French-speaking Community of Belgium.

Other initiatives are testament to the importance attached to this topic in Wallonia and Brussels. For example, in 2014, the ‘Réciprocités’ project is supporting a set of cultural or artistic productions (photo exhibitions, documentary, shows, publications, etc.) valuing the specific cultural features associated with these migrant audiences, and this will lead to a presentation event. The main idea here is to open up the doors to cultural participation to associations of migrants and new arrivals who only rarely respond to calls for projects, and to help the associations, via training, to claim ownership of the conditions for the sound management of a project in light of the needs and expectations of their own target audience, in order to facilitate understanding and awareness of the issues involved in the mechanisms made available by the subsidising authorities. Also in 2014, a seminar has been held on the basis of a selection of youth books about interculturalism and better coexistence promoted by the French-speaking Community of Belgium[1], which served to raise awareness among the operators involved in the early years, youth and education sectors about the use of youth books in their approach to this topic with their audiences. In addition, as part of the 50th anniversary of Turkish and Moroccan immigration into Belgium[2], 2014 has seen a string of cultural and citizenship initiatives which have helped to make this historic event into an opportunity to reflect about social cohesion and living together in the French-speaking Community of Belgium.

Finally, the French-speaking Community of Belgium has been actively involved, via the International Youth Bureau, in the ‘No Hate Speech Online’ campaign, the Council of Europe’s movement against h@te speech.

[1] Il y a un lapin dans ma tasse de thé. Sélection de livres de jeunesse pour nourrir le dialogue interculturel, publication coordinated by Isabelle DECUYPER, Service général des Lettres et du Livre, éd. resp. Martine GARSOU, FWB, 2013.
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[2] In 1964, a bilateral agreement on the recruitment of Moroccan and Turkish labour for the purposes of the Belgian economy was signed between Belgium and Morocco, and then between Belgium and Turkey.

Additional Resources:

Government's overall approach to intercultural dialogue

Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue

Key Resources

Chapter published: 02-12-2014

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