Research on the economic impact of culture in Flanders has focused on the whole of cultural and creative sectors (CCS), including architecture, the audiovisual industry, communication and advertising, cultural heritage, design, fashion, gaming, music, new media, performing
arts, publishing, and visual arts. The definitions of CCS used in this research are similar to what the European Commission defines as ‘cultural and creative sectors’. The results therefore encompass all sectors discussed under section 3 — which cover the different stages of the cultural value chain and not solely the ‘cultural and creative industries’.
The latest figures refer to 2016 and apply to the Flemish Region (excluding the Brussels-Capital Region). CCS represent 10.45% of the number of self-employed people and 6.3% of the number of full time equivalents (FTEs) in the Flemish Region. They account for 5.6% of total gross value added and 13.39% of total turnover. These figures refer to both fully fledged creative activities and activities that have an important contribution to the creative value chain, but are not themselves a specifically creative activity. ‘Core’ creative activities account for 8.35% of self-employed people, 3.69% of FTEs, 3.23% of gross added value, and 3.21% of total turnover in the Flemish Region.
The figures on the Flemish Region do not allow for a direct comparison to the figures available on Eurostat. Eurostat provides data for the whole of Belgium with regard to cultural employment, cultural enterprises, and import and export of cultural goods.
Cultural employment in Belgium in 2018 makes up 4.3% (or 205 000 working persons) of total employment, which is more than the EU-28 average of 3.8% and is an increase compared to 2013 (3.8% or 170 000 working persons).
Eurostat’s structural business statistics on cultural enterprises (with only market-oriented activities) show that in 2017, these represent 6.5% of the non-financial business economy in Belgium — the fourth largest share of all current 27 EU member states. Each enterprise employed, on average, 1.9 persons in 2017 — which is below the estimated average for the EU-28 (3 persons per enterprise). Cultural enterprises constitute 1.4% of the total turnover and 2% of total value added in the Belgian non-financial business economy in 2017 (which are both slightly lower than the averages for the EU-27). We can further divide the value added of cultural enterprises per sector:
- Publishing of books, newspapers, journals, periodicals, and computer games: 0.45%
- Motion picture, video and television programme production, sound recording and music publishing activities: 0.29%
- Programming and broadcasting activities: 0.11%
- News agency activities: 0,02%
- Architectural activities: 0.38%
- Specialised design activities: 0.07%
With regard to the international trade of cultural goods (works of art, jewellery, antiques, books, film, etc.), exports of these goods comprises 0.3% of total exports from Belgium in 2018 (compared to 0.28% in 2013). Imports of cultural goods accounts for 0.36% of total imports in 2018 (a decrease when compared to 0.43% in 2013).
The policies and legal frameworks directed at the different CCS are discussed throughout sections 3, 4, and 7. These include instruments that offer support to cultural and creative industries (CCI) — or to what the European Commission has referred to as “the further stages of the value chain — including the production and dissemination stages of industrial and manufacturing operations”. The Arts Decree (see 3.3, 3.4, 3.5.4, 3.5.5, 4.2, and 7.2.2), for example, provides options for grants and project funding for legal bodies with a commercial character. The funds for literature (see 3.5.2) and audiovisual arts (see 3.5.3) subsidise independent productions in their respective disciplines. As stipulated in its current management agreement with the Flemish government, the Public Broadcaster (VRT, see 2.5.3) must participate in independent Flemish audiovisual productions. Former minister of Culture Sven Gatz (2014-2019) launched a number of initiatives for stimulating private funding in culture and cooperation with private and commercial partners (see 7.3). Other examples are the federal tax shelter agreements (see 4.1.4) for investors in audiovisual or performing arts productions.
Enterprises in the CCI can also apply for support schemes in the policy field of Economy, Science and Innovation (which reside with the Regions, not the Communities). The government agency Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) helps companies and research centres to realise their research and development projects by providing funding, advice and a network of potential partners in Flanders and abroad. Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT) is another government agency — part of the separate Flemish policy field of Foreign Affairs — offering schemes for international entrepreneurial activities, including the CCI. As an investment firm of the Flemish government, PMV provides financing solutions for entrepreneurs in the CCI and other industries. In the Brussels-Capital Region, the government agency hub.brussels has similar functions as VLAIO in the Flemish Region. 1819 is the point of contact for entrepreneurs in the Brussels-Capital Region.
The Flemish government supports Flanders DC as a point of contact for entrepreneurs in the CCI and CCS in Flanders, offering expertise, coaching, promotion, and network development. Persons working in the CCS and CCI can also take advice from Cultuurloket on business related and juridical questions. Another relevant, government funded organisation is the Social Innovation Factory, which promotes, guides and supports social and societal innovative entrepreneurial (including cultural) projects.
Specific challenges and policy issues in the respective cultural sectors and industries (caused by, for example, technological disruptions) are discussed in the other subsections of 3.5.
 Van Andel, W., and A. Schramme. 2015. Creatieve industrieën in Vlaanderen. Mapping en bedrijfseconomische analyse. Leuven: Antwerp Management School/Flanders DC; Departement EWI, VLAIO, and Flanders DC. 2019. ‘De creatieve sector in Vlaanderen’. creatievesector.be. Note that there are differences between these reports in the methodology applied.
 It should be noted that researchers have used “sectors” interchangeably with “industries”. See, for example: Van Andel, W., and A. Schramme. 2015. Creatieve industrieën in Vlaanderen. Mapping en bedrijfseconomische analyse. Leuven: Antwerp Management School/Flanders DC, 17.
 The cited figures on the Flemish Region include, for example, some NACE divisions that are not included in Eurostat’s cultural employment statistics or structural business statistics on cultural enterprises. A more detailed comparison falls outside the scope of this country profile.