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Flanders launches €265 million coronavirus emergency fund
The government of Flanders has announced an Emergency Fund of €265 million to save organisations from several sectors from ruin because of measures to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Another €31 million will be available in the form of guaranteed loans, bringing the total to more than €296 million.
More than half of the fund is going to culture, sport and youth organisations. While the government previously announced that the fund would total €200 million, an extra €65 million was eventually added specifically for culture.
Performance houses and companies, concert halls, museums, cultural centres, support agencies and other culture-oriented organisations can apply for subsidies as part of the €65 million fund. “This will not compensate them from all of the damage they have endured because that would be impossible,” said minister-president Jan Jambon, also responsible for culture. “But we can help institutions that were financially stable before the crisis to flourish once again.”
To that end, the government will prioritise applications from the 411 cultural organisations that received structural subsidies. Smaller and amateur groups will be covered by the €87 million that is being delivered to municipalities to distribute to local organisations.
This portion of funding is going to local culture, sport and youth groups. The funding will be spread out among city councils to distribute to the organisations. “This won’t cover all the costs, but it serves as sign of appreciation for the selfless commitment of so many people,” said Ben Weyts, Flemish minister of education and sport. “Invoices continue unabated, and we do not want to see clubs and associations capsize because of a loss of income.”
Another €10 million is being freed up for major sporting events and for sport federations – umbrella organisations such as the Royal Belgian Football Association and the Royal Belgian Tennis Federation.
Tourism, meanwhile, will get €28 million to be split among several projects, including a programme that assists people who cannot afford to go on holiday and organisations that help people with disabilities to travel.
A good chunk of the Emergency Fund – €47 million – will go to transport, including regional airports, car-sharing schemes and auto manufacturers. (De Lijn has already received €35 million, which came from the regular mobility budget, separate from the Emergency Fund.)
Regional youth organisations, such as the Scouts and Chiro, will get about €11 million, while local media outlets will share €4 million with public broadcaster VRT and Flanders Audiovisual Fund.
Some €35 million, meanwhile, will be used to compensate the floriculture sector and potato famers. While flower growers had to destroy much of their product this spring, farmers are stuck with upwards of 400,000 tons of potatoes that went unsold because of restaurants closures both locally and internationally.
Finally, about €10 million will go to education to compensate schools for cancelled international trips and for digital costs related to distance teaching.
Photo ©Nathalie Willems/BELGA