AMATEO MEMBER: Steunpunt voor Bovenlokale Cultuur – OP/TIL

Member country: Belgium
Contact person: Benedikte De Vos, staff member data collection and research at OP/TIL (and former secretariat of Amateo 😊)

Who?

Steunpunt voor Bovenlokale Cultuur grew out of Amateur Arts Forum, the supporting organisation for the amateur arts sector in Flanders, Belgium. In a big rationalization process, led by the government, the amateur arts sector lost its support and advocacy organization by the end of 2018. However, in De Federatie, the amateur arts sector found a new advocacy organization whilst the nine discipline-specific umbrella organisations professionalized a lot during the past years. Steunpunt voor Bovenlokale Cultuur has a broader and somehow different focus. There is, since 2019, a new Flemish decree that stimulates cultural projects to transcend the borders of their local community or city and to work together with partners on a broader geographical scale. It also has as a goal to connect cultural players from all different cultural subsectors (amateur and professional arts, cultural heritage…) with each other and/or with  organizations from others sectors, such as education, well-being, tourism etc. Next to this project funding, there are subsidies for small groups of municipalities and towns, who act as a connector and facilitator for culture in their region. Steunpunt voor Bovenlokale Cultuur is the new supporting organization for all these new initiatives. We inspire and connect players from the broad range cultural sector. Beyond the boundaries of municipalities, sectors and disciplines.

What?

Our organization wants to connect and inspire cultural actors and organizations to work and cooperate across the borders of their community, their discipline, their cultural habitat. Therefore, we bring people together and organize networking events where we show good examples and give stage to inspirational speakers. We give workshops to inform on the possibilities to get funding and take time for  1 on 1 advice to organizations who have a good idea,  but not yet the experience to start a (large-scale) project. We go to other domains and convince them of the opportunities that new cooperations might have. We gather knowledge about new and challenging cooperations and let this knowledge flow back to the field.

Why Amateo?

Our predecessor, Amateur Arts Forum was a founding member of Amateo. From our own regional context, we learned that amateur arts organizations are good at building bridges with other cultural sub-sectors and domains. At Amateo conferences, and from our contacts with other member organizations, we discovered a lot of good examples, where amateur arts work together with professionals arts, with the health care sector etc. These good examples help us in our current challenge and can stimulate other sectors to leave their comfort zone and work together with non-usual suspects.

Importance of international connections?

Stimulate cultural actors to collaborate across borders is in the mission of our organization! Going for the unknown, finding new, undiscovered partners, learning about common issues you have with people on the other side of the country (or Europe)…it can only help to enrich yourself and to grow in a way you would not have down without these partners. You always learn a lot from new collaborations, not only how others do things differently, but also about yourself. Within a few years, when Steunpunt voor Bovenlokale Cultuur is operating at full speed, we want to introduce the international scope in all our services and stimulate cultural actors from Flanders to work internationally.

Future hopes?

Here in Flanders, the amateur arts sector has proven to be flexible and innovative during the Corona crisis and semi-lockdown in Flanders, Belgium. And I believe it was the same in most European countries. The myriad of spontaneous initiatives showed the need we have for culture, on a personal and societal scale. It is this power to bring people together, to connect and to move people that we should foster.

This is also what I hope for the amateur arts sector and for Amateo, who is as a valuable partner in the field: that they will be visible and appreciated, both by the public and by policy makers. The imaging of the added value is now more important than ever. For all people, young and old, whatever their background or families they come from: I hope they have opportunities to take part in the arts discipline they feel attracted to, get chances to develop themselves and make friendships for a lifetime!

If you want to read more about OP/TIL, please visit their web page!

Interested in joining Amateo’s European network? Find out more!