An assessment of media policy in The Netherlands with regard to cultural diversity - From Margin to Mainstream - has been published.
4.2.4 Cultural diversity and inclusion policies
In February 2008, the Netherlands had a population of just over 16.4 million. The population is aging, with approximately 14% in the over-65 age group. By 2040, the percentage will have risen to 25% (Statistics Netherlands: http://www.cbs.nl/).
The only official minority group in the Netherlands is the Frisian minority. In March 2005, the Minister of Interior and Kingdom Relations signed a covenant on the Frisian Language and Culture. This covenant includes agreements concerning education in the Frisian language; the use of Frisian by the judiciary, in the courts and in public administration, in the media and for cultural activities and amenities; as well as the use of Frisian in economic and social life (see also chapter 4.2.5).
The covenant implements the commitments made by the Netherlands, when it ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in respect of Frisian, and which were set out in the 2001 administrative agreement on the Frisian language and culture. The covenant also implies that the country now complies with the conditions set by the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which the Netherlands signed in February 2005.
Like many other countries in Western Europe, the Netherlands are, in effect, an "immigration country". This trend began soon after World War II, with a wave of immigrants from the former Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia. One special group of immigrants are the Moluccans, which had served in the former colonial army and brought families with them.
Over the past 40 years, the number of immigrant nationalities has increased considerably, with Turkey and Morocco as the main countries of origin. In the 1960s, Dutch companies, having trouble filling their low-paid vacancies, recruited Turkish and Moroccan workers.
After Surinam became independent in 1975, a large number of Surinamese who had Dutch nationality decided to take up residence in the Netherlands.
The last two decades have seen an influx of asylum seekers from various parts of Africa and Asia as well as Europe. Most immigrants live in or near the major cities. Official figures put the foreign population, in 2008, at more than 3 million (not including illegal immigrants), about 20 % of the total population (see Table 1 and Table 2).
Table 1: Share of immigrants in the total population in the Netherlands, 2000-2008
% of total population
2 775 302
2 870 224
2 964 949
3 038 756
3 088 152
3 122 717
3 147 615
3 170 406
3 213 255
Source: Statistics Netherlands, http://www.cbs.nl/
Table 2: Immigrants in the Netherlands by ethnic group, 2008
% of total population
NL Antilles and Aruba
1 766 154
1 450 101
Source: Statistics Netherlands, http://www.cbs.nl/
The Dutch Constitution [Grondwet] provides the legal basis for the civil rights of immigrants (e.g. citizenship, education, health, social insurance etc.) and for their cultural rights (e.g. to participate in cultural life, to protect and develop cultural and linguistic identities, to create, etc.). While there is no specific legislation covering these immigrant groups, the cultural policy document 2001-2004, entitled Make Way for Cultural Diversity [Ruim baan voor culturele diversiteit], gave special attention to the issue of cultural diversity. State Secretary Medy van der Laan's paper More than the Sum [Meer dan de som, 2003] further combined the themes of cultural diversity and integration (see chapter 4.2.7). There is a range of targeted measures and support programmes for immigrants from these groups in different arts, media and heritage fields. In his policy paper Art for Life's Sake [Kunst van leven, 2007], Minister of Culture Ronald Plasterk announced that long term subsidies will be available for arts projects targeted at "culturally diverse" audiences, especially within the framework of the Kosmopolis (see the paragraph Strategies e.g. citizenship participation below, and also chapter 4.2.7).
Minorities, groups and communities in the arts and cultural heritage sectors
There has been a strengthening of production houses and ateliers in the performing arts and of presentation venues in the visual arts for primarily young artists. The Council for Culture has been asked to assess which of the above has the potential to grow into larger amenities with their own production budgets. The aim is to adopt some 10 to 20 production houses in the basic cultural infrastructure (see also chapter 3.2 paragraph Law based regulations for planning cultural policy).
The main target group of Dutch museums is comprised of young people and ethnic minorities. In this context, the Netherlands Museum Association [Nederlandse Museumvereniging] developed an Intercultural Museum Programme to introduce more variety into the presentations of Dutch museums as well as introducing the museums to a wider public. Additional funding will be available for specific activities of the museums aiming at, inter alia, increasing participation of target groups (youth, ethnic minorities), upkeep and presentation of the cultural heritage of minorities and heritage education programmes for school children. An earmarked budget for such activities was transferred to the Mondriaan Foundation [Mondriaan Stichting (see also chapter 8.1.2). All museums in the country, and thus not only museums subsidised by the Ministry (about 30), will be eligible for grants from this budget. Fostering of cultural diversity is a priority of this Foundation. Therefore, the Mondriaan Foundation has introduced a Development Award for Cultural Diversity targeted at Dutch museums. It is endowed with 500 000 euros. In 2006, the award was given for the first time to the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. For more information see: http://www.sgallery.net/news/05_2006/21.php The award is given for the best strategic plans for programming and communicating special exhibitions especially geared towards attracting minority audiences. A tender for the second round of the award started in the spring 2008.
Minorities, groups and communities in the media
In the field of media, diversity has been ensured by the establishment of the production company MTNL (Multicultural Television in the Netherlands (http://www.mtnl.nl/) and the radio station FunX (http://www.funx.nl/), the municipal public channel for urban youth with a dual cultural background. FunX is broadcast to the 4 large cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht), which together contribute 50% of the costs.
MTNL produces television programmes for the four large minority groups: Surinamese, Antilleans, Moroccans and Turks and transmits in the major cities. An assessment of media policy with regard to cultural diversity - From Margin to Mainstream [Van marge naar mainstream, Andra Leurdijk] was published in 2008.
Events e.g. festivals, special celebrations for minorities, groups and communities
In June 2006, Medy van der Laan indicated in a policy paper to Parliament several concrete actions to promote artistic enrichment through diversity, including the improvement of cultural cooperation with the overseas parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. In the paper, a new initiative was suggested by introducing the Cultural Kingdom Games [Koninkrijksspelen Cultuur], as already exists for sports. The first festival, Crown Jewels [Kroonjuwelen], was organised in The Hague in July 2007. Surinamese, Antillean and Aruban artists, from overseas as well as from the Netherlands, performed during this festival.
Minorities', groups' and communities' strategies e.g. citizenship participation
On 9 June 2006, the State Secretary for Culture and the State Secretary for European Affairs sent a joint letter to Parliament, setting out their vision on the establishment of a House for Cultural Dialogue. In order to build bridges between the different cultures represented in the Netherlands, they considered it necessary to intensify the dialogue between groups of "old" and "new" Dutch citizens. To this end, they proposed a platform where citizens can learn more about each other's culture, background and values. In 2007, Kosmopolis was established in the 4 largest cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague (see also chapter 4.2.7). Kosmopolis is part of the 10 point cultural participation plan Minister of Culture Ronald Plasterk introduced in his policy memorandum Art for Life's Sake [Kunst van leven, 2007] and needs to be seen in the context of providing more long-term funding for art and culture projects that appeal to a broader public, and boosting the cultural dialogue in urban areas. In this way, the Minister responded to the Cultural Outreach Committee's [Commissie Cultuurbereik] recommendation to devote more attention to diversity (for other points in the 10 point cultural participation plan, see chapter 4.2.7, chapter 8.2.2, chapter 8.3.1 and chapter 8.4.1).
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has initiated a specific regulation to ensure that 15% of the commission members of the Council for Culture should have a dual cultural background by 2007 (to some extent via Atana which educates young managers with dual cultural background for executive jobs in the cultural sector, see http://ww.atana.nl/ and Cases for Good Practice, http://www.culturalpolicies.net//).