With this campaign, State of the Arts, a platform for art in Flanders, called on the broader public to protest against funding cuts, by creating a mechanism that was simple, accessible and easy to participate in.
We covered existing works of art to visualize not only a number, but also the impact of a piece of legislation in an immediate and simple way. Giving the Flemish people a symbol to share that is both representative and easy to replicate across multiple mediums both on and offline.
Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern region of Belgium, is proud of a rich cultural heritage made famous by Flemish Masters such as Peter Paul Rubens and Jan van Eyck, surrealists like Delvaux and René Magritte and contemporary artists Luc Tuymans and Michaël Borremans. Supported and championed by the region, young artists have often been able to develop groundbreaking work.
In November 2019 however, a newly formed Flemish Government decided to cut funding for art & culture projects by 60 %. Evidently, this would be a great loss. For the broader public however, it's hard to imagine the dramatic consequences of this decision on art that hasn't been made yet.
Immediately after the government's announcement to cut funding, State of the Arts, a newly founded platform for all artistic fields in Flanders, wanted to show the public that -60% funding equals -60% culture. And mobilize them to support our arts & culture.
Describe the creative idea (30% of vote)
Immediately after the government's decision to cut art funding by 60%, State of the arts covered 60% of various works of art, using the official Flemish color yellow.
We sent the work to the artists and asked them to share the image on social media.
On november 14, 2019, at 12 am, all artists shared the image simultaneously using
the hashtag #thisisourculture. More than 500 artists, directors, singers, writers,
performers, actors and illustrators shared the images. Showing that 60% less funding equals 60% less culture.
Once the campaign was launched, a response came naturally. 60% yellow was used on profile picture filters, featured by artists in new artworks and even incorporated into performances, like a piano performance where 60% of the notes were cut. The yellow coverage was also recreated in window displays, on billboards, and even in theatre performances. Uniting the whole country behind a symbol of collective protest.
Describe the strategy (20% of vote)
after the government's announcement to cut funding, State of the Arts, an open platform for all Flemish artists, wanted to make the broader public aware of the dramatic impact on our art & culture. And mobilize them to put pressure on the government to reverse this decision. To do this, we needed a clear and focused message: "-60% funding equals -60% culture." And we needed to convey this message through a mechanism that is simple, shareable and accessible.
We covered existing works of art to visualize not only a number, but also the impact of a piece of legislation in an immediate and simple way. Giving the Flemish people a symbol to share that is both representative and easy to replicate across multiple mediums both on and offline. Showing that -60% funding means -60% culture.
Describe the execution (20% of vote)
The decision to cut funding was announced on november 11, 2019. Immediately, brainstorms were set up and the idea was presented at an action meeting on november 12. Over 500 contemporary works of art were covered for 60% and sent to the famous artists who made them. We coordinated the social media campaign by providing the artists a caption: "-60% funding = -60% culture", a hashtag #thisisourculture and a moment to share simultaneously on instagram: november 14, at 12 pm. By sharing with the same hashtag, the artists created a 60% yellow wall on the platform. After this launch, several initiatives were co-ordinated by State of the Arts. Theatres painted their windows 60% yellow artists and art students painted new works of art that were 60% yellow, posters for cultural events were covered for 60% with yellow posters, and a 60% yellow profile picture filter was made available.
List the results (30% of vote)
The hashtag #thisisourculture instantly became viral. 60% yellow became a symbol for peaceful protest against this funding cut. People showed support and changed their profile pictures, created new artworks, etc.
The campaign resonated in all regions of Belgium: both in Flanders and Wallonia, reaching more than 8 million people: that's 80% of the country’s population. Generating around € 1,6 million in earned media attention and more importantly, making the decision to cut funding a highly criticised decision. A nationwide petition was set up. More than 4000 protesters marched the streets, demanding the funding cut to be canceled.
Under all this public pressure, Minister-President Jan Jambon increased funding for arts & culture by allocating 4 million euros in funds. After this campaign, State of the Arts became the main negotiating partner between the artists and the Flemish government, in an ongoing debate about support for artists.