4.2.8 Social cohesion and cultural policies
Many social domains (labour, commercial enterprise, education and sports) are explicitly mentioned in a Dutch government policy paper on social cohesion. Culture and related projects are currently absent from the documents.
On the other hand, cultural institutes are constantly working on programmes to foster closer ties between cultural groups - whether they are made up of artists or audiences. A new initiative was undertaken by the service organisation for artists, Artists&Cultural Entrepreneurship [Kunstenaars &CO] (see also chapter 4.2.9, chapter 7.3, chapter 8.1 and chapter 8.3.1). Its programme is aimed at the (re) integration of artists into the labour market as well as at seeking new opportunities for art to play a role in rebuilding social ties, especially in places where these ties are virtually non existent and / or highly desirable. A positive evaluation of this programme was published in the fall of 2007.
In the ESF EQUAL project ArtWork(s), artists are engaged to help increase labour market opportunities of migrants, prisoners, mentally disabled people and youth at risk. It is the first EQUAL project in the Netherlands in which art plays a decisive role. To this end, Artists&Cultural Entrepreneurship [Kunstenaars&CO] created partnerships with 2 prisons, a school, a reintegration company, a healthcare organisation, 3 artists' groups, the Netherlands Institute for Care and Welfare and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
Individual initiatives are also very important. For example, theatre producer Saskia Huybrechtse works with 12 young people to create a play about their lives. She developed this programme together with the FouRstar Reintegration Service, an organisation that supports young people through training and mediation with future employers. Set in a boxing school, these young people work alongside professional actors and boxers. They learn both artistic and technical skills such as acting, dancing, set design and lighting. These young people have a hard time finding a job and lack the basic competencies (skills and attitude) necessary to find their own way in society. Their participation in the theatre programme enables them to gain basic skills like discipline, self-confidence, and perseverance, which they need to make their way forward in life and find a job. The result has been the creation of the performance piece Long Live Me (2006) which went on tour throughout Netherlands.