Belgium and the Netherlands
“Kom op, ik denk niet dat het genoeg is ooit
Als ik win, en er nooit meer iets tekort lijkt te zijn
Zit ik vast”
(Lyrics from Kom Op, song on the album Bitterzoet by Eefje de Visser)
In Bitterzoet: The concert film (2020), De Visser and her band play the show that they were supposed to give in dozens of club halls and venues in both the Netherlands and Belgium. The concert film was recorded in Robot Studios, the house and home studio of De Visser in Ghent. It is a beautiful house with a long history where, as De Visser explains in the short intro, many bands and other musical friends regularly gather to make music. Due to the quality of the production, the concert film was distributed and shown in music venues and cinemas both in Belgium and the Netherlands. The concert film is a good example of Dutch-Flemish collaboration that transcended COVID-19 restrictions.
An important country for Dutch creatives
Belgium has been an important country for Dutch artists to work in for many years. The DutchCulture database, which registers international activities of Dutch-based cultural organisations, shows that almost two thousand events took place in 2019. Belgium really makes its mark as the third country that Dutch artists work in, worldwide. In 2020 we inevitably saw a drop in the numbers of physical activities in Belgium because of travel restrictions and venues closing down temporarily. At the same time, a new form of online cultural exchange emerged.
In the period 2021-2024, Belgium remains one of the most important countries for collaboration. This is not just because short distance travel is a realistic first step in a post-COVID-19 world. Also, the innovative new forms of online and hybrid cultural exchange that the Belgian cultural field has developed are an inspiration and ground for collaboration with our southern neighbours. And Belgium simply continues to be a wonderful first step for Dutch artists on their path to an international career, and a stepping stone into the cultural scenes of neighbouring countries.
From sustainable cooperation to innovative solutions
For the Dutch government, the current cultural cooperation with Belgium revolves around the power of sustainable, long-term exchange and co-production, learning about our mutual colonial past and how this impacts our future and innovative solutions for world issues through sustainable design.
Together with the Flemish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond, DutchCulture is developing the informative portal OverBruggen. Dutch and Belgian cultural organisations can find up-to-date information here on working across the border, including networking opportunities, subsidy programmes and help with administrative borders. Are you familiar with deBuren, the Dutch-Flemish house for culture and debate in Brussels? Or with the programme Literair Grensverkeer, especially for Dutch and Flemish writers? Have a look at OverBruggen to find out where to turn to for your ambitions in Belgium. Read more...
Information & advice
Would you like to receive more information regarding opportunities for cultural exchange with Belgium? Feel free to contact our Belgium advisor Astrid Mörk with your questions. They can inform you about the latest developments in the country, relevant contacts, stages and other cultural venues.
Belgium at a glance
featuring 257 artists
12 months (2021)
discipline in 2021
Frequently asked questions
- 1. Where can I find funding within the Netherlands?
In the Netherlands the means for international cultural cooperation are delegated to the national funds. The fund that works for your art form or discipline, has one or several subsidy schemes for internationalisation. To make sure the program fits your project, contact the advisors of the fund before starting the process of application. These are funds:
Mondriaan Fund for Visual Arts
> Subsidy for foreign contemporary art platforms to present work by Dutch(-based) living artists. Invited artists can also apply.
> Travel grants to travel to foreign contemporary art platforms for a lecture, workshop or performance.
Dutch Foundation for Literature
The Dutch Foundation for Literature has several subsidies for internationalisation:
> Translation grants for foreign publishers
> Travel grants
> Literair Grensverkeer - special grant for exchange between the Netherlands and Flanders.
Cultural Participation Fund for communal arts, cooperation, projects with non-professionals
> The development grant within the international cooperation scheme by the Cultural Participation Fund is available for all disciplines and designated for finding partners abroad.
The Netherlands Enterprise Agency is not a national fund but also offers on behalf of various ministries and the European Union subsidies for companies in the creative industries.
Check for other funding options, such as regional and private funding the Cultural Mobility Funding Guide for the Netherlands 2021/2022.
- 2. Where can I find funding within Belgium?
Belgium is a federal state comprising three regions: the Flemish region, the Brussel-Capitol region and the Walloon region. There are also three communities, which are language-based: the Flemish community, the French community and the German community. Each of the entities (communities, regions and federal state) have their own parliament and government. Those of the Flemish region and the Flemish community are however merged. The jurisdiction of Culture belongs to the communities.
In Flanders, the Ministry for Culture exercises the cultural policy by the Arts Decree (Dutch) providing development grants, project subsidies and travel grants. Please note that the project subsidy is available to individuals (professional artists and mediators) and organisations who are part of the Flanders arts scene, but also to organisations abroad who are working on a project that is linked with Flanders (by artists and/or organisations from Flanders) and that includes a public presentation. Find more information here (Dutch).
For information about the Flemish art scene in the disciplines visual arts, music and theatre you can contact the organisation Flanders Art Institute (Kunstenpunt) in Brussels. They also have an international visitors' programme. Find here an overview of the Flemish art landscape by Kunstenpunt.
The Dutch-Flemish organisation deBuren is co-financed by the Dutch and Flemish governments. deBuren offers a grant for cultural and artistic cooperative projects between Flanders and the Dutch Southern provinces.
The French community is called Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (Federation Wallonia-Brussels) and is in charge of culture in Brussels and the French-speaking areas in Wallonia. The General administration for culture offers subsidies and financial support. You can find a subsidy guide here.
Wallonie-Bruxelles International is the agency occupied with international relations for the region, including cultural relations. Please note that these subsidies are only available to Belgian artists or artists living in Belgium permanently.
There are also subsidies to invite international artists to Walloon (the Walloon organization needs to invite):
Doing your research beforehand and finding Belgian partners is essential. You can use the DutchCulture Database be simply going to the search option in the upper left corner, and search for 'Belgium' of any Belgian city you are interested in. In this way you will see which Dutch artists are already active in which areas.
- 3. Are there funding opportunities within Europe?
Creative Europe (2014-2020) is the seven-year support program by the European commission for the cultural and audio-visual sector, and consists of two subprograms: Culture and MEDIA. The Creative Europe Desk of the Netherlands is part of DutchCulture. Be aware that there are many strict conditions to be considerate before applying for this program. The project has to be a cooperation between at least three European countries, a Belgian-Dutch cooperation is therefore not eligible.
Europe for Citizens
Europe for Citizens is the European Union's funding programme to support cooperation projects by citizens, local governments and civil society organizations in the EU. From 2014-2020, 185 million euro is available to support European projects where citizens meet, discuss the future of Europe and remember the (recent) turbulent past of the EU. Europe for Citizens Point NL promotes awareness and understanding of the programme, and provides free advice and support for applicants from the Netherlands. Every participating country has such a contact point. More about Europe for Citizens in Dutch can be found here.
Besides these two programmes of the European Commissions, there are more European funding opportunities, and within the two programmes, there are different calls and subprograms. This funding guide can help you on your way.
- 4. How can I promote my work in Belgium?
It is a good idea to engage local publicists, that have an understanding of your art discipline, audience and region.
Make sure to contact the cultural department of the Dutch Embassy in Brussels to let them know about your projects, and don’t forget to let DutchCulture know! This way you will be included in our database and become part of our network.
- 5. What rules and regulation do I need to consider?
As an EU citizen, you do not need a visa to work in Belgium. If you have a passport from outside the EU, it is wise to check the rules with your country's representatives in the Netherlands. The Flemish organisation Cultuurloket offers information for cultural professionals in Belgium. Read more here on visa regulations when visiting Belgium as a non-EU artist.
Disclaimer: The information given above is mainly provided by the Belgian authorities. In case of any doubt or further questions, please contact the Belgian Embassy in The Hague.
PEARLE* Live Performance Europe, a European performing arts employers’ organisation, wrote a guide on social security in an international context, as part of their series The Ultimate Cookbook for Cultural Managers in 2016. The guide offers a detailed but accessible explanation of how social security works for namely those working in the performing arts within the EU, with a wealth of practical tips and illustrative examples. The guide can be found here.
The website of the Dutch Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB) offers a lot of information on social security when working internationally, with specific information for artists. The information is available in five languages.
Your Europe. Your Europe is an extensive knowledge database about living and working in the EU, with specific information on working across borders available in all 24 official European. Specific information on social security cover in the EU can be found here, as well as a very useful Frequently Asked Questions page. Direct enquiries can be submitted to the team of legal experts from Your Europe Advice.
As artists are highly mobile these days, there are specific rules to avoid that one would not pay taxes. Everyone needs to pay income taxes, but when you have earned your income in different countries in which country should you pay? And how can you avoid double taxation? The above mentioned organisation PEARLE also published a guide on artist taxation in an international context. This booklet provides information on special tax rules for (performing) artists, both for the country of work or performance and the country of residence.
Above that, the Netherlands has tax treaties with a number of countries. In many cases this means that the taxes you pay in one of the countries are deductible from the taxes you owe in another country, or that you are exempt from paying certain taxes. Here you can find an overview of the countries with which the Netherlands has a treaty. Very many matters in the EU are centrally regulated, but taxes differ in each country, and some countries have signed bilateral tax treaties. For information about existing tax treaties between specific European countries, go to the website of Your Europe.
- 6. How can I find a residency, stage to perform, exhibition space?
Browse trough the DutchCulture Database and figure out which artists from the Netherlands have worked at which venues, and start your research this way. Go to the search icon on the upperleft corner of the website, and search by discipline, country and city.
For residencies the organisation Transartists, which is also a part of DutchCulture, is a great research tool. In order to successfully build an international career, and in order to find sustainable partners in a country, it always wise to spend more than a few days somewhere. Residencies, ranging from a couple of weeks until several months, can help you to achieve that.