Dries Vaes

Protests against the cuts gather momentum

Civil society organisations are joining the protests against cuts in the culture and well-being budgets that usually amount to 60% savings on individual projects and 6% savings on operational budgets.  Trade unions, health funds, youth and women’s movements as well as organisations representing minorities have all signed up to an open letter published in the daily De Morgen.

Starting January 2020 130 social and cultural organisations face cuts of 6% on the operational budgets. Youth movements face a 3% cut, though one organisation that supports people out on the street and people in debt faces a 27% cut. 100 organisations have signed the letter.

“It’s crazy that the government is making cutbacks in exactly that which makes Flanders so special” says Wouter Hillaert of the citizens’ movement Hart Boven Hard. “6% doesn’t sound like a lot but it is the umpteenth cut. Many organisations say they can’t take any more cutbacks.  We’re not talking about a small niche in our society, but about millions of Flemings who commit themselves as part of associations.”

Protests are planned in the week of 2 December and will culminate on 5 December when demonstrators will gather outside the office of Flemish Prime and Culture Minister Jan Jambon (Flemish nationalist).  Earlier staff at the Flemish public broadcaster VRT announced they would stage a protest against cuts at the broadcaster at the same time and at the same place.  Cultural organisations too will also join the protest.