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Belgium/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.7 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

Flemish Community

See chapter 4.2.4.

Different actors are playing a role in the stimulation of intercultural dialogue in the arts:

  • Minority Forum (Forum van Etnisch-Culturele Minderheden) is recognized as the official representative organization for minorities in Flanders. The Flemish Ministry of Culture gave the assignment to the Minority Forum to build bridges between (cultural) associations of ethnic minorities and the cultural sector and to give advice to the cultural sector about the needs of ethnic minorities for cultural participation.
  • Demos is the Flemish expertise center on participation through culture, youth and sports. Their focus concerning the arts is to guide practices in the margin towards the center and to detect innovative practices and make them visible for the cultural sector as a whole.
  • Flanders Arts Institute, the Interface organisation and expertise centre for music, performing and visual arts from Flanders & Brussels. One of their key focuses is diversity, urbanity and young artists.
  • Het Sociaal Fonds voor de Podiumkunsten (Social Fund Performing Arts) is the officially recognized employer and employee umbrella organization for the performing arts. One of their key assignments is to stimulate equal employment opportunities in the performing arts sector.

French-speaking Community of Belgium

The intercultural dimension is systematically incorporated into the programme contracts with the cultural operators: one of the stated aims of cultural policy is to guarantee cultural diversity in all action programmes.

Some units within the Culture Administration and several decrees relying on objectives of cultural participation (youth, continuing education and creativity) focus their support as a priority on actions and projects by associations conducted with an eye to respecting and valuing cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.

As part of the European year of intercultural dialogue in 2008, a seminar bringing together scientists, teachers, school mediators and cultural players led to the publication in 2012 of ‘Conceptions du dialogue interculturel’. It can be accessed via permanente.

In 2012, an Anti-racism Platform was set up on an initiative by the Minister of Culture. It has set itself the remit of collating and networking initiatives taken by cultural associations in the French-speaking Community of Belgium which are dedicated to countering racism. The objective is to deliver some proposals for concrete anti-racism actions.

The platform’s main purpose is to work with the players on the ground to identify new forms and expressions of racism in Belgian society and to encourage practices being implemented to combat racism.

Two issues/projects have been given priority: raising awareness of the battle against racism in schools, and respect for different belief systems.

Since 2013, this platform has been managed by an association, the Brussels Intercultural Action Centre. This is an umbrella for sixty or so associations in the French-speaking Community of Belgium.

Other initiatives are testament to the importance attached to this topic in Wallonia and Brussels. For example, in 2014, the ‘Réciprocités’ project is supporting a set of cultural or artistic productions (photo exhibitions, documentary, shows, publications, etc.) valuing the specific cultural features associated with these migrant audiences, and this will lead to a presentation event. The main idea here is to open up the doors to cultural participation to associations of migrants and new arrivals who only rarely respond to calls for projects, and to help the associations, via training, to claim ownership of the conditions for the sound management of a project in light of the needs and expectations of their own target audience, in order to facilitate understanding and awareness of the issues involved in the mechanisms made available by the subsidising authorities. Also in 2014, a seminar has been held on the basis of a selection of youth books about interculturalism and better coexistence promoted by the French-speaking Community of Belgium , which served to raise awareness among the operators involved in the early years, youth and education sectors about the use of youth books in their approach to this topic with their audiences. In addition, as part of the 50th anniversary of Turkish and Moroccan immigration into Belgium , 2014 has seen a string of cultural and citizenship initiatives which have helped to make this historic event into an opportunity to reflect about social cohesion and living together in the French-speaking Community of Belgium.

Finally, the French-speaking Community of Belgium has been actively involved, via the International Youth Bureau, in the ‘No Hate Speech Online’ campaign, the Council of Europe’s movement against h@te speech.

Additional Resources:

Government's overall approach to intercultural dialogue

Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue

Key Resources

Chapter published: 16-01-2018

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