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Netherlands/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends

Globalisation, increasing migration and mobility, media developments, and European integration have all contributed to the need to make contacts with other cultures, and to allow foreigners to acquaint themselves with Dutch arts and culture.

International cultural policy

A culture must develop, present and measure itself internationally. The main objective of Dutch international cultural policy is to make Dutch culture more recognisable in the international arena.

The government helps artists, cultural institutions and the creative sector to widen their market abroad, especially in neighbouring countries and emerging economies. International cultural policy is also used to improve the Netherlands' image, and to support its political and economic interests abroad. International cultural policy focuses on the following objectives: helping leading Dutch institutions achieve international standards, by making considered choices within the basis national infrastructure; strengthening the international market position of Dutch artists and institutions; strengthening Dutch economic interests by emphasising cultural, trade and economic ties; cultural diplomacy: using art and culture to benefit foreign relations.

International cultural policy focuses in particular on: priority countries, creative industry sector and shared cultural heritage. Priority countries are: Germany, Belgium (Flanders), the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, France, Spain, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, China, India, South Africa, Indonesia and Japan. Within the parameters of foreign policy, central government is looking at ways of stimulating cultural cooperation in the Arab region. Central and Eastern Europe are also of interest. The total budget is EUR 18,3 million of which EUR 1 million for shared cultural heritage and EUR 1 million for the Creative Industries Internationalisation Programme.

Creative industry sector

The creative industry sector is one of the nine so-called ‘leading ‘top-sectors’. The Creative Industries Internationalisation Programme strengthens the international market position of the following sectors: architecture, design (including fashion), new media and gaming (see chapter 8.1.1). These sectors consist mainly of small businesses and self-employed people without employees, groups which have a lot to gain from a joint approach.

Shared cultural heritage

In the course of history, the Netherlands has left tangible tracks all over the world. Not only buildings but also archives housed in every corner of the globe contain a wealth of knowledge about our country. The government is seeking to conserve this shared heritage by: encouraging partnerships between Dutch and foreign institutions; exchanging experts and knowledge; supporting foreign initiatives; expanding the circle of parties interested in shared heritage.

This partnership often forms a basis for bilateral relations. To this end the Netherlands is supporting activities in: Australia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname and the United States.

Recent programmes

Brazil has been designated by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as one of the priorities within Dutch international cultural policy. In 2015 and 2016 six joint cultural funds implement this priority position with a special programme financed by the ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is a sequel to the Central de Cultura programme carried out by these funds in 2011 and 2012. The new programme focused on consolidating existing relationships but also on encouraging new cultural collaborations between the two countries.

In the run-up to the Frankfurt Book Fair, where the Netherlands and Flanders in 2016 are joint host countries, publishers have concluded deals with German publishers on translating more than 250 Dutch titles. Through a joint effort by the cultural funds, prominent attention will be given to the Dutch ( and Flemish ) arts in a broad sense.

The film agreement with China which was concluded in 2015 provides better access for Dutch films to the Chinese cinemas. In March 2016 millions of Chinese viewers watched Dutch films at the annual online film festival One Touch, a collaboration between EYE , the Embassy and Tencent.

In May 2016 Minister Koenders (Foreign Affairs) and Minister Bussemaker (Education, Culture and Science) published their Policy frame international cultural policy 2017-2020 [Beleidskader internationaal cultuurbeleid voor de periode 2017-2020]. In this document they note that responsibility for determining the form and content of international activities primarily lies with individual artists and cultural institutions. However, the government can support this process. That is the principle of international cultural policy.

Chapter published: 08-03-2017

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