Netherlands/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate
4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities
Cultural diversity, audience reach and cultural entrepreneurship
Culture as Confrontation [Cultuur als confrontatie, 2000] is a cultural policy memorandum, presented by State Secretary Rick van der Ploeg. Government priorities identified were: (1) cultural diversity, especially in the Dutch multicultural society, (2) audience reach, interacting with a broader more diverse audience, and (3) cultural entrepreneurship. A strict division between the state domain and the commercial market was no longer realistic, Van der Ploeg stressed. Subsidy should also be used to get a grip on the cultural market, in order to make artistically high value performances more popular, and utterances of popular culture better in the sense of a more artistic content. Cultural entrepreneurship would open up possibilities to reach a multicultural or similarly diversified audience.
Less bureaucracy, emphasis on the creative industries
During her time in office (2003-2006, Cabinet Balkenende II), State Secretary Medy van der Laan realised 2 important targets formulated in her policy memorandum More than the Sum [Meer dan de som, 2003]:
- a reform of the funding system: as the funding system of the ministry was regarded as unnecessarily complicated and bureaucratic, an overhaul was necessary. The proposal to alter the system - entitled Making a Difference [Verschil maken, 2005] - was discussed with the culture sector in 2006 and accepted by the parliament in 2007. From 2009 onwards, the system will distinguish between functions that are under the direct responsibility of the Minister and functions that are assessed by Public Cultural Funds and are only under the indirect responsibility of the state. Only cultural institutions which are considered to be a part of the "basic national infrastructure" (such as museums, symphony orchestras, opera and dance companies as well as so called "sector institutes") qualify for continuous funding. Other cultural institutions have to apply to Public Cultural Funds for multi-year funding (up to 4 years). The budget necessary for granting the subsidies to cultural institutions will be transferred to the Funds. The Funds themselves are funded by the Ministry (for an overview of the Public Cultural Funds, see chapter 8.1.2);
- reinforcement of the ties between culture and the economy: Medy van der Laan paid special attention to the relationship between culture and economics, as she realised that the creative industries offer opportunities which are crucial for the growth of the cultural sector. At the same time, culture creates jobs and attracts industrial entrepreneurs looking for a cultural ambience. Together with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, she developed the Culture and Economy programme that started in 2006 (for a description of this programme see chapter 3.3).
Minister of Culture since February 2007, Ronald Plasterk's main policy targets, formulated in the policy memorandum Art for Life's Sake [Kunst van leven, 2007], are:
- excellence: guiding and encouraging talented and outstanding individuals. The idea is to create opportunities for advancement, to develop and apply new insights, to participate in international debate and reflection, and to reinforce the ties between public broadcasting and the cultural sector;
- innovation and E-Culture: closer integration and fewer barriers between the various sectors so as to encourage innovation, experimentation, and renewal. Focus on the contribution of public broadcasting to the cultural sector, specifically in relation to the new media;
- participation: increasing the public appeal of culture. This involves a 10-point cultural participation plan that focuses on education, the amateur arts, digitisation, access, and free admission to museums for children aged 12 and under;
- a More Beautiful Country: the aim is to enhance culture's contribution to beautifying the Netherlands by pursuing an ambitious architectural policy and by modernising efforts to preserve historic buildings and monuments; and
- a Strong Culture Sector: a sector that can stand on its own feet, with firm roots in society that pursues good governance and that generates more of its own income.
Chapter published: 24-01-2011