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Belgium/ 7. Public institutions in cultural infrastructure  

7.3 Status and partnerships of public cultural institutions

Flemish Community

Since 1987, there has been a real increase in cultural sponsorship, reaching a high point in the period from 1990-1993. Since then, sponsorship levels have stabilised with the majority of funds directed at concerts and classical music festivals, followed by art exhibitions. Private sector support is generally not forthcoming for innovation, experimentation, small-scale events and amateur events.

In order to respond to the growing need for cultural entrepreneurship, the Flemish government carried out research on possibilities for public-private collaboration in the field of culture. As a result, the Minister of Culture created an instrument for the cultural industries: "CultuurInvest" (see also chapter 4.2.3). This investment programme offers opportunities for the Flemish government to not only act as a subsidiser, but also to engage in cultural initiatives as an investor and for the private sector to be an investing partner in culture. In 2011, the effectiveness of the CultuurInvest instrument has been under consideration and a revision is to be expected, in order to make it more open for not-for-profit organisations. Several other studies are in the pipeline concerning possibilities for alternative financing of cultural activities.

Flanders has the following major cultural institutions: the Royal Ballet of Flanders, the Flemish Opera, de Filharmonie, the arts centre deSingel, Ancienne Belgique (pop and rock venue in Brussels), the Flemish Radio Orchestra and the Flemish Radio Choir, KMSKA (Royal Museum of Fine Arts – Antwerp), M HKA (Museum for Contemporary Art – Antwerp) and the Castle of Gaasbeek. In 2010, the Minister of Culture announced an intention to fuse the Royal Ballet of Flanders and the Flemish Opera. A transition manager has been appointed; the fusion process is to be completed by 2013.

The major institutions have varying types of management structures. Until a couple of years ago, these major cultural institutions were excluded from the existing decrees and were not evaluated by the existing advisory bodies. In the meantime, guidelines for the two museums and the castle have been introduced in the Cultural Heritage Decree and for the other institutions in the Arts Decree. These institutions have to submit a policy plan, covering a period of 5 years. The guidelines include stipulations on quality assessment (including foreign experts) and a management agreement for a five-year period.

French-speaking Community of Belgium

The institutions subsidised by the French-speaking Community of Belgium where the subsidy is greatest compared to all the other operators are specifically cited in the decree:

Multidisciplinary cultural centres

  • Le Botanique (Brussels)
  • Les Halles European Cultural Centre (Brussels)
  • Palais des Beaux-Arts, Charleroi 
  • Le Manège Cross-border Cultural Centre (Mons)

Performing arts

  • Royal Opera of Wallonia (Liège)
  • Philharmonic Orchestra (Liège)
  • Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia (Mons)
  • Music Council (Brussels)
  • Musical Youth Federation (Brussels)
  • ‘Festival de Wallonie’ (Namur)
  • Choral Song Centre (Namur)
  • National Theatre (Brussels)
  • Charleroi Danse, the Choreographic Centre of the French Community
  • La Bellone performance space (Brussels)
  • Theatre des Doms (Avignon)

Letters and books

  • Archives and Museum of Literature (Brussels)
  • Royal Academy of Language and Literature (Brussels)

Plastic arts and museums

  • Goldsmith Museum (Seneffe)
  • Grand Hornu Museum of Contemporary Art (Mons)
  • Mundaneum (archive centre) (Mons)
  • Mariemont Museum (Morlanwelz)


  • Belgian French-language radio and TV (RTBF)
  • Cinema and Audio-visual Centre
  • Local TV stations
  • Art and experimental cinemas
  • Audio-visual creation workshops

Most of these institutions are linked to the French-speaking Community of Belgium by programme contracts which define their missions and their subsidies.

German-speaking Community

The Belgian Radio and Television Centre of the German-speaking Community is a para-community service which has a management agreement with the government. The Media Centre of the German-speaking Community is a department under the aegis of the Ministry for the German-speaking Community but with separate management. The open channel is under the financial responsibility of the German-speaking Community while the management is the responsibility of a private-sector non-profit association.

Chapter published: 02-12-2014

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