1.1.1 General aspects of Flemish policy


Cultural education [cultuureducatie] is defined as any form of education in which culture in the broadest sense of the word is used, either as an objective or as a resource. Cultural education focuses on encouraging and inspiring a personal and social awareness of culture and on instilling a willingness to participate in culture. It also aims to give pupils and students the capacity to engage in cultural experiences and activities and in inter-cultural communication. Besides it aims to give them the ability for cultural adaptation (Education and Culture Commission, 2008).Cultural education is generally regarded as an umbrella term for arts, heritage and media education.

  • Arts education [kunsteducatie] is any form of education about, through and with the theory and practice of art. Art is used both as an objective in itself and as a medium to develop individual and social processes. Through art a conscious interpretation and transformation is made of a shared meaningful reality, resulting in an observable creation. Art has a capacity to touch observers by means of craftsmanship and/or expression. In many cases, this involves breaking through cultural traditions and accepted practices - and hence involves an element of cultural innovation (Education and Culture Commission, 2008).
  • Heritage education [erfgoededucatie] encompasses any form of education about, through and with heritage. The term ‘heritage' covers all tangible and intangible expressions and traces of human actions from the past to the present. As individuals and as a society, people consciously or unconsciously attach value to their heritage today, and preserve it for the future (Education and Culture Commission, 2008).
  • Media education [media-educatie] encompasses any form of education about, through and with media. The term ‘media' refers to the means through which people connect tangible and intangible expressions and data to their individual and collective meaningful reality. Media make communication between people possible (Education and Culture Commission, 2008).

Distribution of tasksThe Belgian federal system consists of the Flemish, the Walloon and the Brussels-Capital Regions. Besides, the system includes the Flemish, the French and the German Communities. To use Flanders as an example, the 'national' policy level is situated on two authority levels, the Flemish Region (competent for territorial issues, e.g. economy, public works) and the Flemish Community (competent for person-related issues, e.g. education, culture). Since arts and cultural education is a matter tied to people, it falls under the purview of the Communities. As the Brussels-Capital Region is bilingual, the authority of both the Flemish and French Communities extends to this Region as well. In Flanders, the policy is shaped at all levels of government (Flemish, provincial, local), with activities firmly based at the local level.Various actors in the Flemish community are responsible for the implementation of arts and cultural education policy. Policy implementation mainly originates from the policy domains of firstly the Ministry of Education and Training (OV) [Ministerie van Onderwijs en Vorming] and secondly the Ministry of Culture, Youth, Sports and Media (CJSM) [Ministerie van Cultuur, Jeugd, sport en Media]. Yet, policy on arts and cultural education extends far beyond the competencies of these two ministries.In outline, the following actors and entities determine policy on arts and cultural education:Policy domain Education and Training (OV):

  • The minister plus ministerial staff;
  • The Policy Council;
  • The Flemish Education Council (VLOR);
  • The Department of Education and Training (areas of attention related to arts and cultural education include attainment targets [Eindterm], specialised curricula (secondary and higher arts education), and Part-Time Arts Education (DKO) [Deeltijds kunstonderwijs]);
  • The Agency for Education Communication: CANON Cultural Unit [CANON Cultuurcel];
  • The Agency for Educational Services (AgODi), including:
    • the department for Institutions and Pupils in Pre-primary and Primary Education;
    • the department for Part-Time Arts Education (DKO). 

Policy domain Culture, Youth, Sports and Media (CJSM):

  • The minister(s) plus ministerial staff;
  • The Policy Council(s);
  • The Strategic Advisory Council on Culture, Youth, Sports and Media (SARC);
  • The department of Culture, Youth, Sports and Media, including:
    • Policy Section: formulates and supports policy in the areas of cultural competence and cultural education, coordinates Intra-ministerial coordination of cultural education Intra-ministerial Coordination of Cultural Education (ACCE) [Ambtelijke Coordinatie CultuurEducatie], the intra-ministerial consultation platform within CJSM;
    • Media Section: supports media-education projects and takes care of knowledge acquisition in Media Studies;
  • The Arts & Heritage Agency, including:
    • Arts Section: provides structural funding or project subsidies for arts education and arts-based social projects and organisations residing under the Arts Decree;
    • Heritage Section: provides project support for cultural education projects residing under the Cultural Heritage Decree;
  • The Agency for Socio-Cultural Work for Youth & Adults, including;
    • Youth Section: provides structural funding or project subsidies for cultural education associations and cultural initiatives residing under the Decree on Flemish Policy on Young People's and Children's Rights and provides project support for Community School [Brede school] experiments residing under the Participation Decree;
    • Popular Development Work & Local Cultural Policy Section: provides structural funding or project subsidies for initiatives and organisations focusing on arts and cultural education residing under the Decree on Socio-Cultural Adult Work, the Amateur Arts Decree, the Local Cultural Policy Decree, Culture Dissemination Initiatives and the Participation Decree.

In addition, cultural education measures are also taken within other policy fields, such as Welfare (particularly in relation to special youth assistance or old people) and Spatial Planning.Several other organisations play an important role in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of policy on arts and cultural education. Among these are the so-called 'support institutions‘ [Steunpunten] in the fields of Culture and Youth. It is their role to influence policy and evaluate the regulations (Anciaux, 2008).Initiatives for cooperation between policy fieldsA number of initiatives have been developed to achieve greater unity and harmony between the various policy domains within Flemish government, such as an intra-ministerial dialogue and research cooperation. Besides, certain organisations have assumed a role in ensuring harmonisation and cooperation among policy domains with respect to cultural education. An important body in this respect is CANON Cultural Unit [CANON Cultuurcel] which seeks to bridge the gap between culture and education via research, consultation and the organisation of study days. CANON also aims to bring a broad public into contact with culture and the arts by encouraging creative activities at schools (CANON Cultural Unit, n.d.). Another body worth mentioning is ACCE, the intra-ministerial platform for the coordination of cultural education [Ambtelijke Coordinatie CultuurEducatie]. This platform within CJSM, works on harmonisation of cultural education and cooperation between parties involved. ACCE operates both at an administrative level and across the relevant sectors. The platform serves as a direct contact point for stakeholders within and outside the policy fields of Culture and Youth, including CANON.