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EACEA National Policies Platform


8. Creativity and Culture

8.9 Enhancing social inclusion through culture

Last update: 28 November 2023

Fostering equality and young people involvement through cultural activities

The Participation Decree (participatiedecreet)

The Participation Decree (Participatiedecreet)aims to support, enrich and strengthen participation in culture, youth and sport policy.

The Participation Decree is a mix of structural and project support, initiatives aimed at the participation of a broad audience and of certain groups of events, existing measures and new initiatives, subsidies for public and private initiatives.

All these different measures are aimed at two central objectives:

  • The decree wants to be a lever for more community building and more opportunities for the general public to taste culture, youth work and sport. To achieve this, there are various actions: embedding communication and raising awareness about culture, youth work and sport, supporting major events, appreciating hobby associations, ... .
  • The decree aims to support disadvantaged groups by means of a number of specific actions and the development of good, innovative projects that focus on disadvantaged groups. There is a solid investment to stimulate participation among people in poverty, through local networks of local poverty associations, CPAS and municipal services. In addition, there is a participation institution that helps stimulate participation policy for disadvantaged groups.

Unlike most other decrees, it does not regulate a specific sector or a targeted and delineated form of support but it supports what is developed within sectors of culture, youth work and sports and stimulates ideas and enables new methods or collaborations. Based on this participation decree, The Flemish Government subsidizes annual participatory projects that help group groups on their way to the cultural, youth or sports offer or valorises initiatives based on groups of people. In this way, the Flemish Government wants to promote a diverse, sustainable and active participation of opportunity groups in culture, youth and sport. Some examples of projects that received grants since 2017:

  • Urban Words Youth radio: program for young people from disadvantaged groups linked to Urban Words (Urban Woorden). The project aims at young people with a migration background or in poverty with an interest in urban arts, radio (or media), public debate or the activities of Urban Words. Young people receive training, feedback sessions, and create programs and debates about self-chosen themes.
  • Bric a Brac (a project of Rest for the Wicked): With BRIC A BRAC, Rest for the Wicked wants to set up a process on vulnerability, failure and resilience. The project starts from the experience and expertise of people in poverty and young people with a diverse ethnic-cultural background to draw a number of lessons for artistique and cultural projects . This is used to initiate new participatory trajectories that thematize the interaction between art / culture professionals on the one hand and their target group on the other.
  • JoCult Light (project of De Wissel, MFC Combo, Artforum and Barranja): Project to give disadvantaged groups in youth care (12 - 21 years) opportunities to participate in culture. Based on the first successful experiments, the organisers work with the young people towards a sustainable broad platform for youth care and the cultural sector.

Based on the participation decree, the Flemish Government also subsidizes two transversal participation institutions. Both are non-profit associations that work on increasing and broadening participation and renewing and deepening the participation of disadvantaged groups:

  • Publiq aims to stimulate and facilitate participation through communication, marketing and information services. The association focuses mainly on the public-oriented active exploitation of a cross-sectoral database on leisure activities - with an emphasis on the sectors of culture, youth work and sport. In addition, publiq is commissioned to roll out the Flemish leisure pass (UiTPAS) across Flanders. People in poverty receive discreetly a social rate on UiTPAS activities (for more information, see section 8.4).
  • Dēmos is a non-partisan public research and advocacy organization which focuses on social and policy developments in culture, youth work and sports. They focus mainly on groups and practices that are under-represented and underexposed in our society. Dēmos has the following assignments:
    1. Providing support on request to:
      • private socio-artistic and participation-promoting projects for disadvantaged groups in the culture, youth work and sports sector;
      • local projects related to culture, youth work and sports participation;
      • the development of an 'agreement memorandum on leisure participation' for the local poverty networks;
      • and the opening up of good practices.
    2. Establishing or enabling:
      • partnerships and networks in which different partners make an effort to enable the participation of people living in poverty;
      • concrete projects for disadvantaged groups.
    3. Stimulating and developing the social debate about the participation of disadvantaged groups.
    4. Setting up a system of financial allowances to remove financial barriers to participation in culture, youth work or sports - in the form of Vrijuit .


Combating discrimination and poverty through cultural activities

In December 2016, The Minister of Youth launched a project call called “Bridge-builders within and to youth work”. The call aimed to realize youth work for children and young people in vulnerable situations. The intention was to provide financial support to organizations or groups of organizations that offer a youth work that better reflects the diversity of society. The Minister of Youth decided to subsidise twelve 'bridge builders' projects. The selected projects focus strongly on reaching children and young people in vulnerable situations or with a different cultural background and show them the way to youth work. This way, these young people can also get to know the youth work and enjoy a suitable leisure time. The selected projects were evaluated by the jury as very strong, innovative, realistic and feasible. Also a couple of cultural projects received a grand, such as the  'Caravan Project' of the Circusplaneet.

See also sections above.