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The culture budget has increased slightly since 2013, although it is targeted at additional programmes such as development of young talent, innovation and cooperation.


Private sources are matching government funding of 25 million euro to provide music education in primary schools up to 2020.


Space for Culture (June 2015) contains the Minister’s principles for cultural policy and the state supported infrastructure in the period 2017-2020.

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Netherlands/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

Cultural policy 2013-2016

In 2013, the social-democratic Minister of Culture, Jet Bussemaker, presented a vision letter, Cultuur beweegt; de betekenis van cultuur in een veranderende samenleving [Culture moves: the meaning of culture in a changing society], the policy memorandum for the period 2013-2016 in which she reveals her vision of culture in an evolving world. The priority areas for the period 2013-2016 are: cultural education, talent development, creative industries, digitalisation and social dialogue. The Minister stresses the importance of arts and culture for society and their added value for society and the economy.

Essential to the recent cultural policy approach is a balance between the intrinsic value of culture and the instrumental benefits for social and economic processes. Dynamic developments in society presuppose the powerful contribution of museums, music, theatre and other cultural domains. To support this dynamism, Bussemaker selects focus points and instruments to empower artists, as well as audiences, in order to create an effective interface between culture and society. She stresses the importance of individual developments, creativity and cultural education. Artistic excellence, the creative industries and digitisation are prioritised.

Cultural education

The government aims to introduce children and young people to culture in the course of their formal education, and to give them the opportunity to develop their talents in the area, as creators or consumers, as a professional or amateur. In this regard, the main policy concerns are the quality of cultural education, the expertise of teachers and the cooperation between schools, cultural organisations and amateur arts. In a policy document about music education, the minister described her plans for music education for all children in the age from 4 to 12.  An important instrument for cultural education is the Culture Card [Cultuurkaart], which gives secondary school students a discount on cultural activities (see chapter 8.2.2). Furthermore, Bussemaker has presented a document concerning museum policy, Museumbrief: samen werken, samen sterker, in which she accentuates the importance of: the cooperation between museums and schools; the strengthening of the museums’ educational mission; and the need to reach a wider audience (see chapter 4.2.2).

The programme ‘Cultural education with quality 2013-2016’, carried out by the Fund for Cultural Participation, continued in the period 2017-2020. The aim  is to strengthen the quality of cultural education in primary education by:

  • Sustaining the quality of cultural education through collaboration between primary education and the cultural field;
  • Strengthening cultural education in schools who participated in the scheme in 2013-2016;
  • Increasing the number of participating schools.

The Ministry invested another EUR 10 million through the Fund for Cultural Participation annually. Municipalities and provinces will match this amount (see chapter 8.3).

Artistic excellence

In the policy documents Ruimte voor talent in het cultuurbeleid (2014) [Room for talent] and Uitwerking visie op talentontwikkeling [Vision on talent development], Minister Bussemaker set out her plans for talent development.

Space for Culture

In June 2015, Minister Bussemaker presented her letter Ruimte voor Cultuur[Space for Culture, 2015]. Itcontains the principles for cultural policy in the period 2017-2020 and for the national basic infrastructure, meaning the cultural institutions which receive state funding. After the cuts in the cultural sector in 2012, instigated by Secretary of State Halbe Zijlstra (Liberals), Bussemaker's budget was increasing slightly. Over EUR 18 million was made available to artists and cultural institutions for the development of young talents, innovation and cooperation.

The national basic infrastructure expanded with a symphony orchestra for jazz and pop (EUR 3 million per year). EUR 5.5 million was made available for national museums, partly in order to keep the Tropenmuseum open. Museums receive EUR 1 million extra in 2017-20 for mutual collaboration with other institutions. The public cultural funds have the possibility to subsidise journals again, as they are important for debate and reflection, and for developing the talent of young writers. For the youth companies in the national basic infrastructure and the Performing Arts Fund [Fonds Podiumkunsten], EUR 0.8 million extra was made available for dance, music, theatre and film.

Creative industry

In a letter to the House of Representatives in November 2015, Minister Bussemaker and Minister Kamp (Economic Affairs) outline the developments that the creative sector has undergone in recent years and describe how they want to work together with entrepreneurs, institutions and other authorities to further strengthen the creative industry. A professional creative industry focuses on permanent learning, seizes opportunities abroad and invests in public-private collaborations in the field of research, which is all supported by the government.

Cultural policy 2017-2020

In March 2016, the policy letter Een investering in popmuziek [An investment in pop music] was published, in which Minister Bussemaker stimulates pop talents to look beyond their national borders.

In September 2016, Minister Bussemaker published Besluiten culturele basisinfrastructuur periode 2017-2020 [Decisions cultural basic infrastructure period 2017-2020]. She explains how subsidies are divided among the institutions in the national basic infrastructure in the period 2017-2020. Bussemaker focuses on stability in the sector. With an additional investment of over EUR 18 million, she gives artists and cultural institutions more possibilities for innovation, cooperation and development of young talents. She announces an additional investment of EUR 10 million. Priority areas are talent, reaching a diverse audience and regional distribution. Bussemaker wants to encourage collaboration within as well as outside of the cultural sector. The cultural funds are allowed to provide funding for four years instead of two years. Cultural institutions will be judged on quality, social values, education and participation. The Minister argues that all Dutch people should be able to enjoy a rich and varied cultural expressions, and that cultural education is essential for young people to develop their creativity and shape their identity.

In total, 88 cultural institutions and 6 funds receive an amount of EUR 379.91 million per year. EUR 10 million extra is spend on the basic infrastructure, including the six cultural funds. This amount mainly benefits talent, cultural education and public outreach, especially in the region  (see chapter 3.2 and 4.1).

Cultural policy 2018


In spring 2018, current Minister Van Engelshoven published a vision statement, Cultuur in een open samenleving [Culture in an open society] in which she sets out her cultural agenda. She outlines the following policy themes, based on the Coalition Agreement: culture makes curious; space for new makers and culture; an inspiring environment; culture without borders; and a strong cultural sector. According to the vision statement: creative and artistic talent will be stimulated; everybody (irrespective of age, cultural background, income, place of residence) needs access to arts and culture; there should be a broad availability of known and unknown forms of art; and there will be a safe place for art as a reflexion on society and its citizens.

The government will increase its focus on new creators of culture instead of only providing funds for renowned companies, symphonic orchestras and museums. New art forms need the chance to be at the forefront as well, such as digital culture, virtual reality art, fashion and urban arts. Children must be encouraged to enjoy culture at a young age, which is why all children will be able to visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (or another museum) during their school years. The Coalition Agreement announced that every Dutch child should get the chance to see Rembrandts’ Nachtwacht [Night Watch] in the Rijksmuseum.

The culture budget did not increase in recent years, but now there is room for growth. The government is investing EUR 80 million in culture structurally. An additional EUR 325 million will be made available for heritage and monuments in the coming years. In June 2018, the Minister confirmed the investments in heritage in the policy plan Erfgoed telt : de betekenis van erfgoed voor de samenleving [Heritage counts: the meaning of heritage for society].

Urban regions will get the opportunity to profile themselves with culture more than before in cooperation with the different governments. Further investments will be made in a fund for museum purchases, talent development and strengthening the Dutch international cultural profile.


The central government, the Council of Culture and the regional authorities are keen to increase coordination and cooperation between the various administrative levels. The municipalities and provinces emphasised the need to cooperate more and to have a closer look at the function and qualities of cultural institutions in the region. In cooperation with provinces, municipalities and the cultural sector, an inventory should be made of what is needed for culture and the associated resources.[1]

In June 2018, the Minister invited the municipalities and provinces to draw up profiles, together with the cultural sector, setting out their vision on culture and arts in the region. With these profiles, the basic cultural infrastructure can better take into account the composition and the needs of the population, regional identity and the local climate for the makers and artists in the various disciplines (Cultuurbeleid 2021-2024 Stedelijke en regionale profielen) [Cultural policy 2021-2014 Urban and regional profiles].

Labour market in the cultural and creative sector

To strengthen the labour market position of artists and workers in the cultural and creative sector, the government made EUR 400.000 available in 2016. Commissioned by the Ministry, Kunsten ’92 (the representative organisation for the arts, culture and heritage sector in the Netherlands) has drawn up, in collaboration with the cultural sector, the Arbeidsmarktagenda culturele en creatieve sector 2017-2023 [Labour Market Agenda for the Cultural and Creative Sector 2017 – 2023] with recommendations and proposals for the Minister. Some important points are: improve the position of freelance artists and people in other creative professions; improve the working conditions; and strengthen sector-wide cooperation in order to conduct a social dialogue and to respond to the changes in the labour market. A special group of representatives of the arts and culture sector deals with the distribution of funds.


In line with the increased budget for monuments, Minister Van Engelshoven announced in June 2018 that the Dutch government will invest an additional EUR 34 million in monuments throughout the country, such as the Dom Church in Utrecht (EUR 2.1 million), the Monastery of St. Anna in Venray (EUR 3.5 million) and the Church of Our Lady in Breda (EUR 4.9 million).

[1] The December 2017 letter from the organisation Interprovinciaal Overleg [Interprovincial Consultation] with recommendations for the Minister can be found here: Bouwstenen voor cultuurbeleid vanaf 2021[Building blocks for cultural policy from 2021].

Chapter published: 12-02-2019

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