State of the Arts - -60% Culture | Effie case 2020

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State of the Arts / -60% Culture


Bronze Effie
State of the Arts - BBDO
Maatschappelijke impact
Small is beautiful

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State of the Arts / -60% Culture


Bronze Effie
State of the Arts - BBDO
Maatschappelijke impact
Small is beautiful


On November 9, 2019 the Flemish Government announces the decision to cut project funding for art and culture projects (projects limited in time and setup of individuals or organizations that receive no structural subsidy) with 60%, dropping from 8,47 to 3,39 million euros. This cuts short opportunities for starting artists and limits the inflow of small, local initiatives that are the breeding ground for new cultural development. The sector itself states the future of arts is being blocked.

State of the Arts, the platform for artists from all fields in Flanders, needs the public and the media to fully understand the dramatic impact of this decision on cultural life. And to express their protest towards the government. But it is hard to imagine the impact on art and culture projects when they are not yet made. As the results of this cut will only be felt from 2020 onwards, we have to create an impactful message that sets the agenda for the public, the media, and decision makers alike.


  • Artists in all disciplines to participate with their own works of art, showing their solidarity with starting artists.
  • The Flemish public to understand the impact of the decision and to actively protest against it, as many as possible, in order to show politicians that culture is not only a matter of the happy few, but that an enormous number of people - and thus voters - disagree with these politics. And as fast as possible, as the first project round will be closed on January 15.
  • Flemish media to cover this protest, in order to function as a megaphone for the public protest, and to make up for the € 0 campaign budget.
  • Decision maker Jan Jambon, Minister-President of Flanders, responsible for culture, to renegotiate and to reduce the cut under this pressure.


When talking to the masses, be extremely friendly
Politicians are extremely sensitive to this Chinese proverb. As individual or small group you have no leverage towards government. When you successfully mobilize, you suddenly yield power because you mobilize voters. And nothing is as important for politicians as voters. So the more voters you can mobilize, the more politicians are inclined to listen and act.

The Art of Mobilisation
The cuts might only have a direct impact on a small group of people, indirectly they affect a lot more people. Our goal is to demonstrate this. To mobilise in an effective way you need:

  • To start with a small but motivated and credible group.
  • A symbol (color, baseline, hashtag) that is easy to understand, easy to subscribe, easy to spread and easy to use as a protest symbol for those who want to speak up actively.
  • Use channels that provide high reach and visibility in no time.

Visualize the invisible
State of the Arts asks artists from all disciplines to send an image or video of their artworks. We cover this image for 60% with yellow, the colour of the Flemish government. Then ask the artists to share it with the caption:

-60% project funding = -60% culture. #thisisourculture

By covering artworks or artists, we don't just visualise a number, but confront the people with the consequences if they don't protest against this decision. Creating a symbol that is both representative and easy to replicate organically across multiple platforms, online and offline.

Our media strategy is to start from a small core of artists, via culture lovers, to reach an audience as large as possible, with the help of media, in order to activate a large number of lobbyers to put pressure on the decision maker.


  • Artists: on November 14, 2019, at 12 am, more than 500 artists participate simultaneously by sharing pictures of themselves or their work that are 60% covered by yellow. This moment generates nationwide attention and gets everything rolling. Kaaitheater colors its website and posters 60% yellow. Others ask their audiences to cover 60% of their faces with a yellow leaflet. In Hasselt artists exhibit 60% yellow paintings in the city. Musician Ioana Mandrescu performs Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata in which 60% of the notes are deleted. In no time, the symbol of protest is everywhere.

  • Public: thousands of people (Facebook releases no data) start to protest by using the yellow profile filter or creating own content based on the - 60% idea, raising awareness with millions of people. Most of all, the nationwide petition we set up, is signed by 68.841 people up till now. They don't mind the automatic publication of the signature on their Facebook wall in their will to lobby against the decision. Thousands of protesters march the streets in the demonstrations State of the Arts calls for, many of them using the yellow cover.

  • Media: TV stations, newspapers, and online media cover the protest. According to AMMCO, the reporting on the yellow cover protest online and on TV reaches an audience of 4.980.049 Flemish people.

  • Decision maker: under all this pressure, Jan Jambon announces on November 29 he might decide to spend the total amount foreseen in the budget 2020 already in the first round. Indeed, on January 15, 2020 he releases 4,02 million euros for all projects that are judged as 'very good' by the committee responsible. On April 16, 2020 he increases the funding for arts & culture projects by 4 million euros. which resulted in a -5% instead of a -60% cut. Our campaign shifts the balance and equals the two parties. Jambon does no longer face 500 artists but more than 60.000 supporters and lots of public attention. We might not have determined the negotiations, but our campaign reopens the negotiations and gives us a seat at the table.
    The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the cultural sector might have played a role in Jan Jambons decision in April, but his first turnaround to restore the budget is already taken in January, or even in November 2019.

  • Earned media: literally € 0 was spent in media, but € 392.194 was earned in media coverage according to AMMCO. This takes into account the TV and online coverage only, on the yellow cover only, not the visibility of the Facebook and Instagram profiles or all actions in theatres and in the streets.

  • Project funding: € 0 investment versus € 4 million euros in return seems a nice ratio.

State of the Arts
Tom Kestens

State of the Arts - Tom KestensTom is a musician, composer, singer and founding father of bands like Das Pop and Lalalover. He writes poetry, soundtracks for films and tv shows and featured in theatre tours. As a creative and strategic adviser, Tom guided the new positioning of Unizo and helped Cartamundi complete the biggest takeover in its history.
He is a board member at Sabam and spokesman for GALM, State of the Arts, De Artiestencoalitie and Crisiscel Cultuur. Tom is also a member of the local council in Mechelen.

Lieve Raymaekers

BBDO - Lieve Raymaekers With masters in linguistics, literature and audiovisual communications at KU Leuven, Lieve starts at Columbia Advertising. After short periods in event marketing and BtoB communications, she has been working as an account director at BBDO on brands in all sectors: 11.11.11, Douwe Egberts, Kom op tegen Kanker, Libelle, M&M's, NMBS, Pearle Opticiens, SP, Uncle Ben's, VDAB, Winfield, Whiskas,…
This is her third winning Effie case.