2.1 Main features of the current cultural policy model
A planning system
According to the Cultural Policy Act (Special Purpose Funding) [Wet op het specifiek cultuurbeleid, 1993], the Ministry of Science, Culture and Education is obliged to present a policy plan every 4 years. This policy plan reviews all foreseen and completed cultural policy activities. The predecessor of the Cultural Policy Documents, the Arts Plan [Cultuurnota], was drawn up in 1988. Is was extended in the Culture Memorandum, a 4-year planning document on cultural policy spending, to include the arts, museums, monuments, archives, libraries, performing and creative arts, film and literature, architecture and urban planning. The aim of this planning system is to impose rational organisation on the issuing of grants and subsidies. According to the government, the financing system allows art and cultural institutions to adopt long-range programmes in the knowledge that they have sufficient financial support. The Minister of Culture is responsible for creating conditions conducive to maintaining, developing, disseminating (socially and geographically) cultural expression or expanding it in any other way. The Minister of Culture is guided in this task by considerations of quality and variety (as of July 2006, the responsibility for cultural affairs directly rests with the Minister of Culture; before this, a Secretary of State was appointed for the arts, cultural heritage, the media, literature and libraries).
Away from bureaucracy and towards a reinforcement of culture in society
In November 2003, the policy memorandum for the period 2005-2008 was published by Medy van der Laan, State Secretary of Culture in the second Balkenende Cabinet (2003-2006, entitled More than the Sum [Meer dan de som]. The memorandum contains 3 main cultural policy objectives: (1) less bureaucracy in support for arts and culture, (2) more connection and interaction in cultural life; (3) reinforcement of the cultural factor in society (see also chapter 4.1).
Cultural institutions wishing to apply for a structural subsidy for 4 years (within the cultural policy period) are required to submit an application a year before the start of a new cultural policy period. The 4-year plan is expected to determine a series of substantive goals for the coming period as well as make arrangements for an evaluation of the past. Each plan is accompanied by a budget (income and expenditure). The former obligation to submit an annual activity plan stating how the basic principles of its policy plan are to be implemented for a 1-year period has been dropped to reduce bureaucratic ineffectiveness.
A parliamentary discussion that took place on 16th October 2006 led to the following decisions: subsidy requests from smaller cultural institutions and companies will no longer make up part of the 4-year cultural policy document (planning) cycle, but will be submitted to the Public Cultural Funds (see chapter 8.1.2). The Funds will be empowered organisationally, in order to meet their extended responsibilities. More generally, a rearrangement of cultural institutions will be made, redesigning the dividing line between institutions that will belong to the basic infrastructure. The Minister of Culture, in the fourth Cabinet Balkenende (since early 2007), Ronald Plasterk, built upon these decisions in his cultural policy memorandum Art for Life's Sake [Kunst van leven, 2007]. In order to realise the above, an amendment was made to the Cultural Policy Act [Wet op het specifiek cultuurbeleid]. Cultural institutions could submit funding requests before 1 February 2008 for the period 2009-2012.