BBDO Belgium

State of the Arts
"-60% Culture"

Client: State of the Arts
Product: Flemish art
Title: -60% Culture
Media: social, digital, outdoor, ambient, PR
Country: Belgium
Date Of Campaign: 14/11/2019

Background: 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.

Idea: 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. The next steps 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.

Results: 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.

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