Etienne is a co-founder of IOV, founded in his hometown Oostrozebeke, Belgium in October 1979. He is retired from his profession and dance ensemble and now devotes his time to IOV. Trough his efforts, many folk dancers and musicians to have had the opportunity to participate in international dance festivals and cultural events. This relations made it possible that a shelter for poor people in Caçapava do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil has been nominated “Pavilhao Etienne Vankeirsbilck” in 2004. Until today this home is sponsored by Etienne, every year.
Etienne continues to promote international friendship and respect . He has been honored for his work all over the world. Many individuals and festival organizations has benefited from his work and the knowledge he gained from close cooperation with the late IOV Secretary General, Alexander Veigl, his best friend.
In 2006, in honor of his contributions to IOV and folk art , Etienne was awarded with the Outstanding Contribution Award by the Shanghai Baoshan International Folk Arts Festival. In 2008 he was named the Honorary Mayer of the City of Bountiful, Utah, US. In 2014 the Silver Magnolia Award of the City Government of Shanghai, the highest distinction for expats, was confered to Etienne in appreciation of his valuable support to Shanghai’s development outstanding contributions and friendly cooperation.
He recently co-autored two books “Streekdrachten in Onze Gewesten“ and “Van Hoed tot Ondergoed“ about Folk Costumes of Flanders, Belgium.