From the policy perspective, heritage in Flanders is divided in cultural heritage (which is part of the policy field of Culture) and immovable heritage (which is part of the policy area of Environment). The former is a competence of the Flemish Community — which means that the sphere of cultural heritage spans the territories of both Flanders and Brussels—, whereas the latter resides under the Regions — which means that the Flemish Region has a different policy on immovable heritage than the Brussels-Capital Region.
Cultural heritage comprises both movable cultural heritage (archive documents, books and manuscripts, works of art, old utensils, etc.) and immaterial heritage (oral traditions, transferable skills and knowledge, community practices, etc.). Museums, archives, heritage libraries, local heritage societies, and other organisations and projects dealing with cultural and immaterial heritage receive support from different levels of government, especially the Flemish Community (mainly through the Cultural Heritage Decree, see 4.2.2) and local authorities. The Flemish Community supports FARO as the independent interface centre for cultural heritage in Flanders. FARO supports organisations and initiatives (see 5.5 and 7.2.1) and organises projects for public outreach, such as the annual Heritage Day. Memoo is another funded intermediary (see also 2.4). It supports the digital archive operations of cultural, media and government organisations, e.g. by digitizing and managing archive content and sharing expertise on this subject. They are also one of the partners of TRACKS, a network for archive and collection management in the arts.
Until 2018, the provincial governments played an important role in cultural heritage (e.g. through providing digital databases). This level of government, however, has been divested of its cultural competences (see 1.2.4). At the beginning of his term, current minister of Culture Jan Jambon (2019-2024) announced he would invest in the field of cultural heritage. Among other measures, this has resulted in an increase of subsidies for organisations funded through the Cultural Heritage Decree.
Some Federal institutions hold important collections of (art) historical objects from all over the world, such as the Art & History Museum, The Royal Museum for Central Africa, or the museums mentioned throughout the other subsections of section 3.
Immovable heritage falls under the responsibility of a separate minister of the Flemish government. In the Brussels-Capital Region, it is a competence of a Secretary of State of its Regional Government. (For an overview of relevant legislation in both Regions, see 4.2.2.) Immovable heritage refers to monuments, buildings, landscapes, archaeological sites, and nautical heritage in public and private space. The responsibility for maintaining immovable heritage can therefore reside either with public authorities, church authorities, or private persons. Flanders Heritage, the Flemish government agency for Immovable Heritage, provides an online overview of sites and their legal statuses in the Flemish Region (see also 1.3.2).
Herita is the main umbrella organisation in the field of immovable heritage in Flanders. They organise the annual ‘Open Monumentendag’ (‘Heritage Day Flanders’) in the Flemish Region. In the Brussels-Capital Region, the Department of Cultural Heritage has made inventories of immovable heritage sites. They also organise the annual ‘Open Monumentendagen’ (‘Heritage Days’). The Royal Commission for Monuments and Landscapes provides independent advice on the protection of immovable heritage in the Brussels-Capital Region.
In the wake of debates on the colonialism of Belgium and its lasting effects on culture and society (see also 2.5.1), the presence in public space of memorials and sculptures relating to the colonial occupation of the Congo has become an increasingly problematic issue — the recurring reappropriation of monuments for Leopold II being a case in point. Some local governments have taken steps to dismantle monuments and memorials, which has raised the question if this is the best strategy for handling contested heritage. The reopening of The Royal Museum of Central Africa in 2018 re-sparked debate on collections from the colonial period. Issues were raised about the way these collections and their (historical and current) context of racism and repression are represented and about restitution of looted art. Though institutions and politicians have spoken in favour of restitution, a clear legal framework on the matter is still lacking and concrete steps are yet to be taken.
Art that was looted during WWII — especially art works originally in provenance of Jewish people — has been on the agenda of politicians several times on both the Federal and the Flemish level. A Federal database of stolen art works that can be reclaimed is yet to be finalised.
 FARO made an online overview of organisations and projects dealing with cultural and immaterial heritage in Flanders and Brussels. An online inventory of immaterial heritage practices is provided by Workshop Intangible Heritage Flanders. See also 1.3.2.
 Jambon, Jan. 2019. ‘Beleids- en begrotingstoelichting Cultuur. Begrotingsjaar 2020’.
 See, for example: Van Beurden, Jos. 2018. ‘De toekomst van koloniale collecties. Nationale of Europese uitdaging?’ faro | tijdschrift over cultureel erfgoed, 2018; or the following open letter on the topic: Adam, Ilke, Karel Arnaut, Berber Bevernage, Marnix Beyen, Leen Beyers, Daniël Biltereyst, Joris Capenberghs, et al. 2018. ‘Let’s talk about colonial collections and restitution’. FARO; or this statement of The Royal Museum for Central Africa. Also note that it took until 2009 for the Belgian State to adopt the UNESCO 1970 convention on the prevention of illicit trade of cultural goods (see 4.2.1).