CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Luc Devoldere at CODART DRIE

The Foundation Stichting Ons Erfdeel

The joint Flemish-Netherlands Foundation STICHTING ONS ERFDEEL (Our Heritage) was established in 1970 as a non-profit-making organisation which enjoys legal recognition both in the Netherlands and in Flanders. It is completely independent in its views and has no political affiliation.

STICHTING ONS ERFDEEL has two main aims:

  • to promote cultural cooperation among all speakers of the Dutch language
  • to increase awareness of Flemish and Dutch culture abroad.

The Foundation seeks to realise these objectives by publishing and distributing a range of periodicals and other publications, both in Dutch and in other languages.

The Foundation is exceptional in that its statutes specifically state that the editorial boards of all its publications shall enjoy absolute freedom of action. As a result, STICHTING ONS ERFDEEL is unique in its structure: its financial management and material infrastructure are quite separate from its editorial activities. The Managing Director of the Foundation, who is also Chief Editor of all publications, provides the link between the Foundation’s governing body and the editorial boards of its various publications.

STICHTING ONS ERFDEEL is an independent private institution. In practical terms this means that the Foundation itself is responsible for finding the greater part of its income. It also receives regular subsidies from the governments of the Netherlands and Flanders. This makes the Foundation’s position more or less unique among cultural institutions in the Dutch-language area.

Ons Erfdeel

The journal Ons Erfdeel appeared for the first time in 1957 in an edition of 250 copies. By the end of the Sixties, Ons Erfdeel had become so successful that a more professional approach was needed; the decision was then made to set up a Foundation.

Today, with 10,000 copies per issue, Ons Erfdeel is among the most widely distributed of general cultural journals. It offers a wide range of information on the arts, culture and society in the Netherlands and Flanders, and is also deeply concerned with promoting positive cooperation among Dutch-speakers, disseminating Dutch language and culture abroad and with all aspects of cultural foreign policy.

Through its positive yet critical attitude to cooperation among the various speakers of Dutch the journal makes a major contribution to public debate on this issue. A good many elements of current Dutch-Flemish cooperation were first mooted in its pages.

Septentrion. Arts, lettres et culture de Flandre et des Pays-Bas

Once the Foundation had been set up in 1970, an administrative and editorial centre, funded by private contributions, was built at Rekkem, West-Flanders, on the Franco-Belgian border. In 1972 the centre was completed and the Board of Directors could implement other plans cherished by the editors.

So June 1972 saw the appearance of the first issue of Septentrion. This is a journal written entirely in French for a French-speaking readership and concerned with the art, culture and society of Flanders and the Netherlands. The first such periodical to address French-speakers directly in their own language, it also devotes a great deal of attention to the centuries-old interaction between Dutch- and French-language culture. Septentrion is extremely well received in the French-language press. The journal is hailed as “une main tendue de la Flandre et des Pays-Bas” to the French-speaking world. Over the years Septentrion has provided thousands of pages of information in French about the Dutch-language area. The journal appears four times a year, with an average of 10,000 copies per issue; more than half of these are distributed in France itself, and most of the rest in the French-speaking part of Belgium. It is also read in Canada and Switzerland.

De Franse Nederlanden – Les Pays-Bas Français

In 1976 STICHTING ONS ERFDEEL began a new initiative with the publication of the yearbook De Franse Nederlanden – Les Pays-Bas français, a serious bilingual publication about Northern France and its cultural, artistic, political and social connections with Flanders and the Netherlands. This yearbook is now produced in an edition of 4,000 copies and makes a not insignificant contribution to perceptions of this area of Northern France with its nearly five million inhabitants – a region whose role will become increasingly important, not least because of the Channel Tunnel and the metropolitan ambitions of Lille.

Books in other languages

In 1981 STICHTING ONS ERFDEEL took a further step towards providing people in other countries with ever more and better information on Flanders and the Netherlands when it published the first of a series of useful books on various aspects of the culture of the Low Countries:

  • In twenty-three languages: Dutch. The Language of Twenty Million Dutch and Flemish People, a clear and comprehensible account of the history and development of the Dutch language.
  • In twelve languages: The Low Countries. History of the Northern and Southern Netherlands, a broad overview of the history of the Low Countries.
  • In seven languages: Contemporary Fiction of the Low Countries, an anthology with an extensive introduction on modern Dutch-language prose.
  • In eight languages: Contemporary Poetry of the Low Countries, an anthology with an extensive introduction on modern Dutch-language poetry.
  • In seven languages: Contemporary Painting of the Low Countries, a volume which gives a picture of the present state of painting in the Netherlands and Flanders by means of two general introductions and individual profiles of twenty-five painters.
  • In six languages: Contemporary Sculptors of the Low Countries, a volume which gives a picture of the present state of this artform in the Netherlands and Flanders by means of two general introductions and individual profiles of twenty-five sculptors.
  • In preparation is a volume on Contemporary Architects, to appear in september 2000.

The Low Countries. Arts and Society in Flanders and the Netherlands

In 1993 STICHTING ONS ERFDEEL was able to introduce an English-language year-book about Low Countries culture under the title The Low Counties. Arts and Society in Flanders and the Netherlands. This book of 320 pages, printed in four colours, appears each autumn in an edition of 8,000 copies.

The book offers a wide range of articles on the arts in the Low Countries, both past and contemporary, on general social issues, and on relations between the English-speaking and Dutch-speaking worlds.

Addresses Stichting Ons Erfdeel

Belgium – Flanders
Murissonstraat 260
B-8930 Rekkem
tel. +32 (0)56 41 12 01
fax +32 (0)56 41 47 07
e-mail: (editorial board) (administration)

the Netherlands
Rijvoortshoef 265
Nl-4941 VJ Raamsdonksveer
tel. +31 (0)162 51 43 25
fax +31 (0)162 51 92 27