A sociological study was carried out on amateur arts in Flanders and Brussels.
8.4.1 Amateur arts and folk culture
At the end of 2009, the amateur arts sector presented the results of sociological research about the amateur arts in Flanders and Brussels ("Amateurkunsten in beeld gebracht", "A view on amateur arts"). Some highlights of this research, which combined different surveys (one with a representative sample of the Flemish population, another with members of amateur arts organisations) with additional research:
In Flemish cultural policy, a broad concept of amateur arts is used. It entails associations as well as individual artists who are active in the field of theatre, dance, music, visual arts and writing. The amateur arts sector in Flanders is supported by the Agency Socio-Cultural Work for Youth and Adults of the Ministry for Culture.
The Amateur Arts Decree was introduced on 22 December 2000. An important aim of the decree was to stimulate pluralism and professionalism in the sector. The decree recognises and supports one Flemish amateur organisation per art discipline or sub-discipline. The following nine organisations are funded on the basis of a 5 year policy plan: Vlamo (instrumental music), KUNSTWERK[t] (visual arts), Danspunt (dance), Poppunt (pop music & DJ's), Centrum voor Beeldexpressie (Photography, film and multimedia), Creatief Schrijven (writing), Koor&Stem (vocal music), Muziekmozaïek (folk & jazz music) and OPENDOEK (theatre). The Forum voor Amateurkunsten is an overarching advocacy organisation, which also deals with interdisciplinary amateur arts practices.
These "national amateur arts organisations" are providing different forms of support for more than 10 000 groups and 200 000 individual artists in their different (sub)sectors. However diverse, they all function as information centres for practitioners, providing information via sector-specific websites and publications. Several have opened documentation centres and offer amateur artists and groups the opportunity to enter competitions. Amateur artists can follow master classes in several disciplines and get artistic, organisational and technical guidance (for instance production management, sound engineering, voice training and camera skills). On a regular basis, they initiate international projects on cross-disciplinary initiatives. Via a focused target group policy, the sector enables as many people as possible to participate. Through the nine organisations, amateur artists get opportunities to present and showcase their activities locally and abroad.
Each year in spring, the Forum voor Amateurkunsten coordinates the Week of Amateur Arts throughout Flanders and Brussels. In 2011 the Week of Amateur Arts had its 16th event. This Week encourages stage and exhibition opportunities for amateur artists and is organised in co-operation with the municipalities. Every year, an average of 160 municipalities participates, bringing together 1 000 activities.
The larger cities in Flanders have a specific centre that supports amateur arts. The centre in Brussels, called "Zinnema", is also subsidised by the Flemish Government.
Amateur arts activities are essentially supported by umbrella organisations or federations that bring together local groups either at the community or provincial levels. These federations are mainly in the following fields: music (musical societies such as brass bands, military bands and choirs), folklore (folklore dance groups), theatre and photography, cinema and video.
The federations regroup a very significant number of local associations that develop their artistic practice and contribute to local cultural life.
Centres for expression and creativity (180)
The centres for expression and creativity are local associations that develop artistic practices for and by amateurs. They focus on projects that are rooted in the social environment and which are strongly linked to the social and cultural preoccupations of the participants. These projects are generally supervised by artists and are presented to the public.
We are currently witnessing the emergence of new types of organisations (networks) and new artistic practices developed by non-professional people or groups, for instance: writing workshops, urban cultural practices.
A significant example of the development of an urban animation project supervised by artists and involving the creative participation of citizens is the « Zinneke Parade ». This project is a biennial event presenting a parade involving over 1 000 participants to an audience of more than 200 000 persons.
Around 200 amateur arts associations are active in the areas of music, singing, theatre and dance. Several creative workshops are also held. Approximately 50 clubs are devoted to maintaining traditions, mainly in the form of carnival celebrations.