As direct professional co-operation is most common in the professional arts field, numerous organisations and artists within the arts sector collaborate with partner organisations across the national borders as part of their daily activities. Research at Flanders Arts Institute, the support centre for the arts, has revealed that over the last decades, international collaboration has steadily increased. More Flemish artists and organisations find their way outside of Flanders / Belgium, but also more and more foreign artists settle in Flanders and Brussels in order to develop their work. Certainly in the performing arts and the visual, a zone of ‘transnational’ creation and distribution has been developing.
A number of network organisations facilitate international exchange, for instance the Brussels based IETM, i.e. the international network for contemporary performing arts (http://www.ietm.org) or EFA, the European Festival Association, based in Gent (http://www.efa-aef.eu/).
Several organisations realise part of their international operations via support from the European Creative Europe support programme. For the period 2014-2017, more than 100 organisations from Flanders are engaged in cultural and creative cooperation projects, platforms or networks, either as project leader or as participant. (http://www.creativeeurope.be/sites/creativeeurope/files/media/creativeeurope-brochure-web-en-02.pdf)
As for the heritage sector, ‘internationalisation’ can take many forms, such as:
- International umbrella organisations, such as ICOM (the International Council of Museums).
- Engagements for inter-governmental organisations, such as the UNESCO-networks for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage;
- International networks, such as the “Flemish Art Collection” (network of five art-historical museums in Flanders in order to enhance their reputation).
- International projects, such as Europeana.eu which is the EU digital platform for cultural heritage.
Other European support flows from the European Regional Development Fund to regional development programmes. Participation in INTERREG programmes are realised both in the east (with the cities of Hasselt and Genk) and in the west (with the city of Kortrijk) of the Flemish region.