3.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends
Globalisation, increasing migration and mobility, media developments and European integration, has all contributed to the need to make contacts with other cultures, and to allow foreigners to acquaint themselves with Dutch arts and culture. Dutch contributions to international cultural events are often of high quality and reinforce the idea of the Netherlands as an innovative country. But the arts scene is related to social contexts which, over recent years, have changed everywhere in the world. The Netherlands, too, have been the stage for radical developments in a range of areas. Partly, as a result of these changes, and despite the successes that have been achieved, there have been sufficient reasons to redesign international cultural policy.
In the 1980s, international cultural policy served primarily to reinforce the international status of Dutch culture. In the 1990s, the accent was transferred to cultural co-operation, not only promoting understanding between peoples, but also enriching both parties and clarifying the Netherlands' international profile. Current Dutch international cultural policy has 4 objectives:
Although these objectives are still relevant, the last few years have seen a return to the notion of the importance of profiling Dutch culture abroad. In May 2006, the State Secretaries for Culture and Foreign Affairs jointly announced their intention to make Dutch culture more recognizable on the international map via the policy document Setting the Course: More Cohesion in International Cultural Policy [Koers kiezen]. To achieve more transparency and efficiency, a clear distinction between practical and strategic international cultural policy was presented, including in financial terms. The resources for the strategic policy increased to 50% of the HGIS Cultural Resources, also known as the Netherlands Culture Fund (HGIS -Homogene Groep Internationale Samenwerking). Strategic policy will be linked more directly to 3 specific categories:
International collaboration and interchange are pivotal issues in the policy memorandum of the Minister of Culture Ronald Plasterk's Art for Life's Sake [Kunst van leven, 2007]. Dutch artists and cultural institutions are encouraged to take example from prominent artists and institutions abroad. Dutch arts should strive for a leading position in the international art world. International cooperation and competition contribute to improvement of and innovation in Dutch arts and cultural heritage. Priority should been given to the art forms that already gain or deserve appreciation abroad, such as design or architecture.
Shared cultural heritage
Over the course of time, the Netherlands has maintained intensive relationships with a number of countries in the context of a shared cultural heritage. A number of stages in history gave rise to many intangible and tangible memories that are still referred to as common cultural heritage. Dutch society is the product of a long and sometimes difficult history that has to be understandable for Dutch inhabitants of the present day. This applies also to the countries with which the Dutch share a past.
Through cultural policy programmes, the cohesion that already exists with other cultural and social sectors will increase. Within the country, specific policy frameworks and structural activity plans will be developed, under which focus will be given to present day themes within the wider expanse of cross border shared cultural heritage, such as the history of slavery, water, fortifications and strongholds.
In addition to a more structural approach, it is important both from the scientific perspective and from the perspective of the heritage field itself, that the innumerable and multifarious acquisitions of the shared cultural heritage continue to be preserved and to be accessible at a central location. On this basis, private initiatives are encouraged that are being taken to set up provisions for compiling and distributing knowledge and expertise in this area, and that will make it possible to forge relations with other heritage fields, such as world heritage. In order to develop a joint research programme, a cultural heritage conference was held at Stellenbosch University in South Africa in March, 2008. Scholars and researches from countries that share their heritage with the Netherlands are involved in this programme.
Additional themes and programmes
The Netherlands, as a free port, has been a much-heard term in international cultural policy in the past years. Programmes that confirm this concept include the provision of art education scholarships for foreign students; assistance for well-known Dutch festivals to invite foreign journalists and undertake promotional campaigns to raise their international profile; artist-in-residence programmes to allow leading foreign artists to live and work in the Netherlands for lengthy periods; visiting programmes for intermediaries, policy makers and programmers to find out about the culture on offer in the Netherlands and the details of Dutch cultural policy.