Flemish artists protest 60% budget cut by covering their work with 60% yellow

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Last week, the Flemish government made a shocking decision to cut funding for culture and art projects by 60%. A major blow for artists in the region. In response, more than 500 renowned Flemish artists from all sectors, such as actor Matthias Schoenaerts and Veerle Baetens, visual artists Guillaume Bijl and Hans Op de Beeck and many more posted a picture with their work covered in 60% yellow – the color of the Flemish government communication. A perfect visualization of what is happening to Flemish art.

The campaign was launched by BBDO Belgium for State of the Arts, an open platform that unites artists in the region. It shows the broader public that the culture we have today, didn’t come by itself. Every famous artist starts small and needs a chance to experiment and develop. In a small market like Flanders, this is virtually impossible without project funding.

Actor Michael Pas: “the decision to cut away 60% doesn’t just have financial consequences for a few cultural organizations. It affects the whole population. Because everyone is affected and influenced by art and culture, whatever the form.”

Sebastien De Valck, Creative Director BBDO:

We work together with actors, composers, directors,… on a daily basis. Before they became self-sufficient, they almost all learned their craft by starting in smaller projects and productions. Our creatives felt they needed to help the arts sector to make a unified statement. They presented their idea at an action meeting with 2000 artists and activists represented. After a collective approval, BBDO and State of the Arts started rolling out the campaign.

Laura Groeseneken aka Sennek:

our hashtag: #thisisourculture. A hashtag making clear that we shouldn’t just today’s Flemish identity, but also keep nourishing tomorrow’s culture.

The 60% yellow images were posted by more than 500 Flemish celebrities on social media. The public’s support was overwhelming. The hashtag spread like wildfire. Artists and activists started to launch their own initiatives to make art 60% yellow.

A few examples: theatres covered their own posters and website. Audiences covered their face with yellow leaflets or even paint. Audiences spontaneously climb the stage after a play, to show support for the actors and crew.

Anonymous artists exhibit 60% yellow art in the streets. Musician Iona Mandrescu even performed Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata with 60% of the notes erased.

State of the arts is pleased with the broad solidarity among the public and in the art sector itself. “Artists of all ages join forces. A diverse art landscape is under threat, but fortunately, there is great support.”

An online petition to reverse this decision is currently signed by more than 60 000 people.

Credits:

  • Agency: BBDO Belgium
  • Client: State of The Arts
  • Client contact: Tom Kestens
  • Creative Directors: Sebastien De Valck, Arnaud Pitz
  • Creatives: Frederik Clarysse, Johan Van Oeckel
  • Studio Director: Tom Nackaerts
  • DTP: Rob Goovaerts
  • Head of Production: Patricia Van de Kerckhove
  • Content manager: John Van de Pol
  • Video Editor: Jasper Vanhauwaert