Looking back on 2023: the annual report of Flanders Arts Institute

A review of 2023 yields a mixed picture. Conflicts and climate problems captivated the world and also did not leave the art world untouched. But the past year also produced a lot of good. The result of hard work in the arts and at Flanders Arts Institute. Results to be proud of.

For example, we gave the Flanders Music Archive a beautiful new home at KASK & Conservatorium in the heart of Ghent. The collection of the Music Archive covers almost all the physical music releases in Flanders since the 1960s, and comprises more than 40,000 physical carriers. The archive is now working to make this collection accessible to the music-loving public.

In 2023, we also put efforts into mitigating the impact of Brexit. This was supported by resources from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve Fund. We organised three online exchanges with more than 100 participants. We sent 55 Flemish makers and art workers to the United Kingdom. With relevant themes on the discussion tables including sustainability and transition, art and disability, and cross-sectoral practices.

What else? We launched the podcast Gedeelde grond [Shared ground], where we gave a diverse range of people working in the arts the opportunity to speak about their vision of the field. Conversations about spotting opportunities and how to seize them. About obstacles and how to get rid of them and opt for a positive story … More and more of our work is all about caring. Caring for a sustainable sector on a human scale, caring for responsible international activities. And: caring in all hospitality for artists and art professionals fleeing crisis and violence.

What is art? The trajectory with the similar name examines relevant questions such as: who decides about selecting and supporting art, based on what criteria, how to organise greater diversity in this, and how to involve your audience? We investigated these questions in a variety of activities. So we organised a public talk and a large-scale citizen survey. The results will be shared in the spring of 2024. We also conducted focus discussions with audiences who experience additional barriers or have additional needs.

As far as those barriers and needs are concerned: no art without artists. It is often difficult for them to participate in our events. As is the case for most self-employed, an attended Flanders Arts Institute event means half or a whole day of lost income. In 2023 we began experimenting with ways to fairly distribute these burdens between makers and freelancers, organisations with operating subsidies, and Flanders Arts Institute itself.

During the last performing arts sector day, this resulted in a new and more diverse image: makers were at least as well represented as people working in organisations.

Finally, our mainstays. Also on the programme as a permanent fixture in 2023: the well-attended information sessions, writing tables, Morning Coffees, communities of practice, sector meetings, international working visits and visitor programmes, our extensive data collection, our daily press overview and much more. Browse our annual report (in Dutch) and read all about it.

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