For several years, mainly in the period 1993-2008, Flanders has been working on a thorough restructuring of the legislation on culture. Important principles are:
The Arts Decree - Decree concerning the Subsidising of Arts Organisations, Artists, Arts Education and Social-artistic Organisations, International Initiatives, Publications and Support Centres was adopted on the 2nd April 2004. From 2006 (2007 for music), this Decree replaced the former decrees and regulations addressing various art forms: performing arts, music, visual and audiovisual arts, literature, architecture, design, new media and all hybrid art forms. In 2008, amendments were made to the Arts Decree aimed at making it more transparent, to optimise its implementation and to reduce the administrative burden on arts organisations and individual artists.
The Arts Decree offers two-or four-year multiannual funding for various types of organisations and project grants to artists and organisations. Furthermore, there is support for international initiatives, arts education or socio-artistic projects, publications, and support centres for the different arts disciplines. Finally, there are bursaries for individual artists. Quality assessment is based on peer evaluation.
Cultural Heritage Decree
Since the late 1990s, different new decrees had been introduced in the domain of cultural heritage: the Archive Decree (19/7/2002), the Heritage Decree (7/05/2004), the Decree of Popular Culture (27/10/1998). In 2008 these decrees were integrated into a new umbrella Decree on the Development, Organisation and Funding of Flemish Cultural Heritage, also called the Cultural Heritage Decree (23 May 2008).
The Cultural Heritage Decree deals only with movable and intangible heritage (oral history, traditions, rites …). The policy for immovable heritage (monuments, landscapes and archaeological sites) is issued through other decrees.
The main objectives of the Cultural Heritage Decree are to:
The Cultural Heritage Decree aims at anchoring the achievements from the three decrees mentioned above and encouraging complementary initiatives to cover the entire heritage field. Bundling the available budgets allowed a number of initiatives to start up within the new Decree and enabled the Flemish Community to:
Topstukkendecreet ("Masterpiece Decree")
The Decree Concerning the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage of Exceptional Significance of 24 January 2003 – the so-called Masterpiece Decree is about the protection of the most important movable cultural heritage because of its special archaeological, historical, cultural, artistic or scientific significance. A shortlist has been drawn, listing rare and invaluable masterpieces in Flanders to which the "Topstukkendecreet" has been applied. For these protected masterpieces and exceptional collections, conservation and restoration grants can be requested. The Decree also includes regulations concerning the exportation of major works (out of the Flemish Community) and a purchase obligation by the Flemish government in case of denial of an export license. The Council for the preservation of movable cultural heritage advises the Minister about the shortlist of masterpieces.
The Participation Decree entered into force on the 1 January 2008. It provides a policy framework for explicit participation initiatives to facilitate access to culture, aimed at:
This Decree offers:
The Circus Decree (21 November 2008) aims at the optimal development of the circus arts in Flanders. To achieve this, the Decree wants to:
The Circus Decree subsidises the creation of Flemish circus arts productions, subsidises the dissemination of Flemish circus arts productions, funds education and training of circus artists, and subsidises the support and promotion of circus arts.
Local Cultural Policy Decree
The Local Cultural Policy Decree - Decree concerning the Stimulation of a Qualitative and Integrated Local Cultural Policy was adopted on 13 July 2001.
With this Decree, the Flemish government aims to stimulate an integral local cultural policy. Local authorities are assigned a large role in policymaking and are responsible for their cultural policy. The Decree includes obligations in the areas of participation and consultation (cultural council) and public libraries. Other issues are optional: drawing up or carrying out a cultural policy plan, cultural centres or community centres and inter-municipal cooperation. Municipalities can receive financial support from the Flemish government (see chapter 8.4.2).
On 13 July 2007, the Flemish government endorsed an amendment to the Decree on Local Cultural Policy.
The cultural policy is currently based on various sets of rules (Decrees, Orders of the government, Circulars). The German-speaking Community has set itself the goal of renewing this legislation taking account of certain principles, such as considering a specific sector as a whole, consolidating individual sets of rules in an overall text and simplifying administrative processes.