It is often said that “Brussels is the new Berlin” in the sense that artistic and cultural scene is thriving. Being an international artistic hotspot, it seems natural that Brussels needs to have a multilingual culture desk for artists. The idea is to enable all artists (despite the language they speak) to have easier access to information and support.
Brussels enjoys a rich and diverse artistic landscape. But artists, especially those who are getting started and who are not strictly Dutch or French speakers, find it difficult to obtain project support or subsidies. This is not surprising as in Brussels, culture is a competence shared by 8 ministers and 19 aldermen. Everyone has their own vision, the rules and procedures are numerous, too different, there is little coordination. This is why Els Rochette (one.brussels), MP from Brussels asked Minister-President Vervoort to create a single, multilingual culture desk serving all Brussels artists. The Minister-President declared that he is in favour of this initiative and indicated that he intends to release a budget as early as 2020 to make it a reality.
Els Rochette believes that our cosmopolitan city is “the place to be” for artists and art lovers. But the Brussels reality, with its characteristic fragmentation in supporting artists according to the municipality, the linguistic community and the different ministers, constitutes a brake which prevents Brussels from becoming a real artistic capital of Europe. A unified culture desk/info point would help talented artists to find suitable support for their projects more easily.
A group of 117 Flemish, French-speaking and multilingual artistic organizations, united within the BKO-RAB network, has long insisted on the need to create a one-stop shop in Brussels to answer questions from artists, regardless of their language, their municipality or their origin. The confirmation of the creation of this info desk by government agreements at the level of the Region, the VGC and the COCOF was therefore seen as a very positive signal. A one-stop shop that will continue to improve existing practices, notably at Cultuurloket, while transcending institutional and linguistic barriers.
“It is time to concretize the plans of the government agreement and create this info desk. This is why, in the Brussels Parliament, I asked Minister-President Vervoort what he intended to do in this matter. According to his answer, things started to move. The Government will release funds in 2020 to launch the work on creation of this unified culture desk”, explains Els Rochette.
Secretary of State Pascal Smet (one.brussels) had already informed the VGC Council that such a desk needs to stick closely to the cosmopolitan reality of Brussels – a city where minorities are the majority. The desk will have a task to point artists and creators to the right subsidy channels, whether it be the municipality or the EU. Its aim must be to encourage collaborations by artists, but also to offer support to international artists wishing to settle in Brussels, who often wonder what status to take and need guidance in this complex and multilingual city.
Els Rochette concluded – “Thanks to a multilingual and accessible culture desk with a real city dimension, Brussels will be able to grow faster into a city of culture with an international scope, making room for both large institutions and young experiences. We must capitalize on this in order to put our city on the map and give people of Brussels a great artistic and cultural offer.”