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EACEA National Policies Platform


8. Creativity and Culture

8.1 General context

Last update: 23 December 2021

Main trends in young people's creativity and cultural participation

Participation survey

Every five years a large-scale participation survey (participatiesurvey) is organized, in which a standardized questionnaire is presented to a representative sample of the Flemish population. This study has to provide the Flemish government with reliable figures on the degree of participation in the domains of culture, youth, media and sports. Furthermore, the participation survey has to provide answers to key questions concerning the barriers to participation, modes and contexts of participation, the degree of overlap in participation in these domains and mechanisms that influence participation. In 2020 the Knowledge Centre on Cultural and Media Participation will conduct this survey for the 4th time. The previous three surveys have been carried out in 2003-2004, 2009 and 2014. In 2014 3965 Flemish people between 15 and 86 years old participated in the study; 949 of them were 30 years old or younger.

This participation survey of 2014 shows that young people in Flanders are actively involved in culture. Certainly the youngest group is highly active. For instance, 59% of the young people between 15 and 17 year old exercises at least monthly a creative hobby. Among young people aged 18 to 25 this percentage drops to 38% and among 26 to 30 year olds to 34%, but also among these age groups active cultural participation is still significantly higher than among adults.

Regarding receptive cultural participation (e.g. visiting museums, going to the theatre, visiting cultural heritage sites), the participation of young people differs less from that of other age groups than the differences regarding active cultural participation. See table below.


Young people







Exercises at least monthly a creative hobby





Receptive cultural participation past 6 months





Visiting museums and exhibitions





  • Occasional (<3 times)





  • Frequent (at least 3 times)





Going to the theatre





  • Occasional (<3 times)





  • Frequent (at least 3 times)





Visiting cultural heritage





  • Occasional (<3 times)





  • Frequent (at least 3 times)





So, cultural participation of young people is certainly not lower than that of adults. However trend analyses on those participation surveys indicate that among more recent generations younger  age groups tend to participate less in highbrow cultural activities than they used to do in previous generations (Van Steen, Willekens, Beunen, Siongers, & Lievens, 2015).

On the website more information on the previous Participation Surveys is available. On that website you can also find web tools that allow to generate tables and figures from the datasets. The web tools contain the answers to a selection of questions from the surveys of 2009 and 2014 and a selection of trend data from the surveys of 2004, 2009 and 2014.


Survey on Cultural Education – (Cultuur leren smaken. Een onderzoek bij Vlaamse jongeren naar cultuurparticipatie en cultuureducatie - Webtool on study)

In 2013 the Cultural Policy Research Centre (CPRC; now called the  Knowledge Centre on Cultural and Media Participation) conducted a survey on cultural participation and education in Flemish secondary schools. In order to grasp the complexity and diversity of cultural participation and education two samples of secondary schools were drawn: a representative sample of secondary schools, and an extra sample of secondary schools in metropolitan areas. The first sample allowed to draw a detailed portrait of cultural participation and education among young people in Flanders, the second sample allowed to zoom in on the cultural participation and education of the less privileged groups (which are overrepresented in big cities). Based on these two samples the study reached 84 secondary schools in which a total of 5086 pupils (from 1st to 6th grade of secondary education) completed a questionnaire on cultural activities and cultural education in both a school and a leisure context. The survey also addressed both receptive (visiting or attending cultural activities) as active cultural participation (the practicing of a creative hobby).

Almost all young respondents (95%) reported that they had attended at least one cultural activity during the six months previous to the study. Most visited are movies, libraries and musical festivals. Not only the receptive participation rate is high among young people, also their more active participation is high: 61% of the young performed at least once a creative hobby the previous 6 months. Creative working with multimedia was most mentioned as a creative hobby, followed by singing, visual arts, playing music and photography. Most creative hobbies are performed alone or with friends, whereas a considerable smaller share of pupils chooses to perform a creative hobby in part-time arts education or other forms of arts education (mostly for learning to play a musical instrument or drama lessons). Being culturally active in less formal associations is less common except for dancing which is often practiced in dance clubs.

55% of the young respondents had followed or were still following an out-of-school arts education class. When young people attend these arts classes, most of them choose for highly formal institutions of which part-time arts education (Deeltijds Kunst Onderwijs or DKO) is the most important one. More than a third of the young people in Flanders attend or have attended courses in part-time arts education (DKO). Focus is here on highbrow expressions of art. Non-formal education offered by e.g. youth centres, cultural centres and associations, reaches less young people, except for dance courses. The figures on arts education outside the school show in general a focus on more ‘traditional’ cultural forms: young people follow arts education classes in visual arts, dance, music or drama. While multimedia and photography, singing and writing are the most performed creative hobby’s, they are seldom practiced in arts education classes. They are mainly performed alone or with friends.

Besides, both formal and non-formal arts education classes during leisure time seem mainly practiced in primary education. There is a large backdrop in participation in arts education when young people enter secondary education. This is the case for both formal an non-formal forms of arts education. For instance, while 40% of the young respondents once followed classes in part-time arts education (DKO), this was at the moment of the survey only 15%. During secondary education the participation rate decreases further: in the 1st grade of secondary education (youngsters of approximately 13 years old) a quarter still follows arts education. Among the pupils in the final year of secondary education (approximately 18 years old) this number has declined sharply.

Already at the start of secondary education, social differences can be observed. In the first grade (first two years) of secondary education, the social differences are not that big, but are already visible and young people in the vocational tracks (vso) attend significant less cultural activities than pupils in general education (gso). In upper secondary education, the differences are becoming more pronounced. For instance, only 32% of the pupils in vocational education have been to a library outside the school hours during the previous 6 months, while this percentage in general education is 70%. Also 35% of the pupils in general education have visited at least once a monument, noteworthy building or archaeological site over the past six months while only 12.5% of the pupils enrolled in vocational education have visited such a place. Pupils in technical education take an intermediate position. With regard to active participation or amateur arts the social differences are more pronounced in upper secondary than in lower secondary education. Largest differences are found for playing a musical instrument. In upper secondary education, 27% of the young people in gso plays a musical instrument, while only 9% in vocational education does (See also Siongers, Lievens & Beunen, 2016).

Also ethnic differences are huge, certainly with regard to receptive cultural activities. With regard to active participation, the ethnic differences are less pronounced and even non-existent for some activities. This is for instance the case for dancing, acting and singing. However, again for playing musical instruments differences are large.

Although schools invest in cultural participation and education, the study shows that schools fail to bridge the social gap. Moreover, the results indicate that schools perpetuate and even worsen inequalities. Young people from less privileged backgrounds and who participate less during leisure time are overrepresented in vocational education, where they have fewer opportunities to participate in cultural activities.


Administrative data

The Department of Education and Training publishes annually an overview of the most important statistics on Flemish education, e.g. on the school population, staff, infrastructure, … . In these statistical overviews, also figures on Part-time Art Education are included. During the school year 2019-2020 201.238 persons were enrolled in part-time arts education; 75% of these participants were young people (specific age is not mentioned in the publication) with an overrepresentation of girls. The number of girls enrolled in arts education is twice as high as the number of boys (100.854 versus 50.585). This overrepresentation of girls is the largest in dance (only 310 of the 11.601 students are boys), but also in the other domains (visual and audiovisual arts, music, speech arts and drama, dance and cross-domain) girls are overrepresented. Most popular among young people are the disciplines visual and audiovisual arts and music, with respectively 49.416  and 65.360 young people enrolled in during the school year 2019-2020.

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Main concepts

Amateur arts

In Flemish cultural policy, a broad concept of amateur arts is used. It entails associations as well as individual artists who are active in the field of theatre, dance, music, (audio)visual arts, and writing. In the Amateur Arts Decree it is furthermore defined as: every form of art that in the context of socio-cultural life gives each citizen the opportunity to develop oneself through the practice and experience of art and to develop potential creative skills on a voluntary and non-professional basis. More in particular "amateur arts" refers to the following disciplines: theater, dance, photography, visual arts, painting and sculpture and related, music (including instrumental and vocal music, light music, folk music and jazz), literature. More information on amateur arts in Flanders can be found on (in Dutch)

Cultural heritage and immovable tangible heritage (

In Flanders, a clear distinction is made between policy on cultural heritage (moving and intangible) and immovable tangible heritage (e.g. monuments and landscapes), see 8.2 for more information cultural heritage policy in Flanders.

Cultural heritage is described as all the valuable that we received from our predecessors, but also objects, stories, documents and traditions that we pass on to these and next generations.

Moving cultural heritage is the heritage that is preserved in museums, archives, libraries, documentation centers, churches and monasteries, theology circles, heritage associations, schools and theaters ...

Intangible heritage also includes less tangible things, such as stories, traditions, parties, songs, dialects ...

Immovable tangible heritage includes architectural, archaeological, landscape, heraldic and maritime heritage.