There has been policy interest in stimulating private financing of cultural initiatives for some time. Innovations in earlier legislations included Cultuurinvest (an independent investment fund), micro credits for artists and a tax shelter system for audiovisual and performing arts production. In the current legislature, toolboxes to stimulate crowdfunding and EU financing were developed. Also, diverse research projects were initiated. Earlier initiatives to facilitate and stimulate the diversification of revenue streams for artists have been evaluated. Mapping research with an inventory of different possibilities and frameworks to finance cultural projects was undertaken (2016). And there was also a follow-up study on the culture of patronage in Flanders (2017).
These initiatives and research were followed by a concept note of the Flemish government, with a ‘long term vision on additional financing and entrepreneurship’ in the Flemish culture sector.
In this document a number of new policy initiatives were announced. These are not to be regarded as an alternative for public financing, but as complementary to it. These initiatives are meant to be tailor made for the culture sector. They are to be situated along four axes:
- Cultuurbank (‘Culture Bank’; from 2018): the networking of existing and new initiatives providing credit and financing opportunities, tailor made for the specifics of and diversity within the culture sector, respecting its societal and cultural objectives.
- Fiscal measures stimulating philanthropy and donorship, including adaptations to the tax shelter system to the performing arts and legislative modifications in order to stimulate patronage by companies. (These issues are matters of federal competence).
- A new supporting organisation: ‘Cultuurloket’ (enlargement of the existing ‘Kunstenloket’) is a portal for the culture sector about for cultural management, entrepreneurship, administration, complementary financing etc.
- The stimulation of cross-sectoral collaboration via an open call (“innovative partner projects”), not only to stimulate the diversification of revenue streams in the culture sector, but also to boost innovation and creativity in other domains.
French-speaking Community of Belgium
The French-speaking Community of Belgium subsidises the association ‘Prométhéa’, whose objective is to create an interface between culture and the economy, mainly via sponsorship. This association also liaises with the public authorities on all questions relating to the development of patronage and private sponsorship.
‘Prométhéa’ circulates information on opportunities for partnerships between representatives from the economic sector and those in the cultural sector. It offers an advisory service and runs the ‘Caius’ competition, a prize for cultural patronage which is awarded to businesses which make a distinguished contribution to cultural and heritage development.
The French-speaking Community of Belgium also supports participative funding initiatives deployed in the cultural arena and designed to add value to creative and innovative projects. For example a European participative funding show was staged in Brussels in 2013, without overlooking the questions raised by these new ways of funding cultural projects (Europe Refresh). This type of initiative seeks not only to deliver financial support for cultural projects, but also to create synergies between different cultural players by pooling them in order to develop shared projects.
The French-speaking Community of Belgium and the Walloon Region have set up the St’Art investment fund, worth 16 million euro, which aims to support the development of the creative economy. St’Art is intended for small and medium-sized enterprises, including non-profits. The fund helps with the creation of enterprises or the further development of existing structures. It offers loans and holdings. The aim is to generate a leverage effect on banks and private investors. St’Art works hand in hand with the public bodies and the regional investment funds. It was created in 2009, and had already supported 650 (future) enterprises by 2012.