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Belgium/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation  

8.2.1 Trends and figures

Flemish Community

Table 7:    Share of people who participate in cultural activities at least once a year, 2000, 2006 and 2009





Classical concerts, festivals




Rock / pop concerts, festivals




Jazz / blues concerts




Folklore / traditional music








Ballet / dance








Museums, exhibitions




Source:    SCV-surveys. In: VRIND 2010, ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap, 2010.

Reading habits: 63% of the population read a book at least once a year (2009).

About half of the population attends a museum, exhibition or a gallery annually. This figure has been fairly stable over the years. More than half of Flemings visited a cinema in 2009. Most visitors participate repeatedly. These results are in line with previous years.

In 2008, 35% of the population visited a library. Library visits have been relatively stable in recent years, although since 2000 there have been fewer registered readers and there are more people who never or very rarely go to the library.

The French-Speaking Community of Belgium

A study in 2011 reported that 18% of the population used libraries. 83% of the population of the French-speaking Community of Belgium have access to a fixed library. There are three mobile libraries which are also organised by the French-speaking Community of Belgium to facilitate access to books.

Cinema attendance: in 2011, there were 63 screens in the Brussels Region and 167 in the Walloon Region. In 2011, Belgium’s cinemas sold 22,275,859 tickets: 3,752,513 in Brussels and 7,948,379 in the Walloon Region (statistics from SPF Economy – DGSIE).

In 2007, the French-speaking Community of Belgium’s Cultural Policies Observatory started a survey into cultural practices in French-speaking Belgium. 2022 people aged from 16 and over participated in this study in the Brussels Region and Wallonia. Very many practices were investigated (outdoor leisure, home practices, creative leisure, etc.). Some results here. Comparing the data collected in 1985, it appears that the evolution of particular cultural demand increases. This increase was observed for all the "out-going", with variations, whether with a significant increase in attendance at concerts, festivals and movie, whether with a low increase for theatre and other performing arts like dance or opera, whether with a "status quo" for the visits at the museum or in various exhibition halls and borrowing books and media. Moreover, cultural practices at home are experiencing a significant redeployment mainly through the use of new media. First, listening to traditional media such as television and radio continued to grow, but on the other hand, the use of equipment such as DVD, CD, Ipod and computer takes today an bigger time in leisure time of the people in French speaking Community. It seems to change, in terms of social categories, the access to certain products. On another way, there is a general and significant reduction of reading practices (paper).

Based on this survey, we can conclude that the democratization of access to culture has increased overall during the last twenty years, thanks to recent technological developments. But this result, after all positive, should not hide the fact that, for many people, there is still no access to culture, "cultivated" and popular culture in the meaning of a massive cultural consumption driven by new media. Several times in this survey appears the image of the isolated individual folded on itself. In the French speaking Community,  for one people on 4 is the price of admission to a show a real obstacle. The figure of the "negative individual" appears here and indicates that our society of consumption also produces no-rights and "disaffiliated" people that are far from access to all these forms of culture. The project of culture’s democratization is still a work in progress.

Chapter published: 02-12-2014

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              Council of Europe/ERICarts, "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 16th edition", 2015 | ISSN 2222-7334