French-speaking Community of Belgium
Alongside the artistic creation and heritage conservation functions, the participation function is an important dimension of cultural policy.
This cultural function is performed by many associations supported pursuant to various decrees relating to cultural centres, youth organisations, youth centres, continuing education associations (for adults), centres of expression and creativity, and federations and associations for amateur artistic practices. These associations are active in the socio-cultural, socio-artistic or socio-political arenas. They all hold a brief for active, critical and accountable citizen participation.
Unlike cultural operators which have more of a focus on issues around creation, production and dissemination, these sectors are applying approaches based on non-formal education, training, raising awareness of the issues of citizenship and democracy, practice and action in connection with the social environment of the groups concerned. They are aiming to develop the participants’ powers of expression and action and concentrating on developing their activities with vulnerable sections of the public.
Cultural policies are careful to value the cultural expression developed by associations not just in terms of the ‘products’ which result from their work with the various sectors of the public, but also the participative process which, in particular, allows groups and participants to produce and gain public appreciation for a cultural expression that belongs to them.
Several associations recognised by the decrees in the sectors of youth or continuing education are developing in-depth non-formal education programmes aimed at particular sectors of the public or their voluntary frameworks.
The continuing education sector is running and leading the Adult Literacy Steering Committee set up in 2005.
Adult literacy has long represented an important issue both for the operators running adult literacy programmes and for the various public authorities in charge of social cohesion, professional integration, education and culture (cultural participation – continuing education).
This Adult Literacy Steering Committee is made up of representatives from the French-language public authorities concerned and the fabric of associations; its brief is to produce an annual snapshot of literacy and to offer the Interdepartmental Literacy Conference some proposals for coordination of the operator support mechanisms.
The Youth sector is an important element in cultural policy in the French-speaking Community of Belgium. The point is to highlight and develop youth creativity within a dynamic of continuing education, both in youth centres and in centres of expression and creativity (which are not aimed exclusively at young people). Participation and growing autonomy are the centrepieces of the practices, and they promote cultural expression by young people.
Moreover, several calls for projects organised by the French-speaking Community of Belgium are directed at rising artists who are not (yet) recognised in the field, and seek to support them by enabling their mobility in order to open them up to contemporary artistic practices recognised at international level. Aid to creation is also awarded, including to young authors writing strip cartoons in French.
In more global terms, the French-speaking Community of Belgium seeks to stimulate cultural projects carried out by young amateurs which are not exclusively of an artistic nature, culture here being interpreted in its broadest sense, the point being to explore and recognise any form of cultural ownership and/or expression. Most of these collective projects tend to come from an associative structure, such as a youth centre, and/or established artists, and 10% of them are initiated by youth groups without adult accompaniment.
In the field of literature, the French-speaking Community of Belgium promotes youth literature, particularly as part of education, via a Culture and Education Unit designed to strengthen ties between teachers, librarians and other associations. Also, the French-speaking Community of Belgium has teamed up with various associations to offer prizes designed to encourage young people to read, by showcasing contemporary publications in the field of youth writing.
For young people, the French-speaking Community of Belgium provides significant specific support to the development of theatre for children and young people (Decree of 13 July 1994 on theatre for children and young people).