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Netherlands/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.9 Employment policies for the cultural sector

State Secretary of Culture, Halbe Zijlstra set up the Culture Entrepreneurship Programme (2012-2016), which focuses on leadership, patronage, and support for creative professionals and individual culture providers. The current Minister of Culture Jet Bussemaker is continuing this programme. The changes taking place in the cultural sector require better leadership. By developing quality in cultural leadership, the minister aims to invest in the future of the Dutch cultural sector. Utrecht University and Kennisland (Knowledge Centre) will run the Leadership in Culture Programme, in cooperation with the Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU).

Another important objective of the Culture Entrepreneurship Programme is support for creative professionals and the individual culture providers. These groups are important for the cultural sector and for economic growth, but their position can be vulnerable, especially in times of economic recession. In order to support them, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science subsidises the organisation Culture-Entrepreneurship [Cultuur-Ondernemen] (click here for the English website). Culture-Entrepreneurship stimulates entrepreneurship in cultural organisations and among independent artists and creative people. On the one hand, the foundation gathers information on entrepreneurship and passes it on to its clients by offering training, coaching and consultancy programmes. On the other hand, it supports the sector with a number of financial instruments, such as micro-credits and cultural loans in cooperation with Triodos Bank.

Culture-Entrepreneurship also launched an updated Culture Governance Code in November 2013. The code has been developed to create transparency and accountability in governance. It is especially adapted to the field of organised culture.

As of 2013, around 250 000 people were employed in the cultural sector (employees and free lancers), representing a 4.1% share of the total job market. Compared with other sectors, the cultural sector has a high percentage of freelancers. In 2010/2012, while freelancers represented 10% of the total job market, this was 56% amongst artists  and 37% in other creative professions.

The 2013 data confirm a trend which had already been identified in the sector: that the number of jobs is decreasing and the number of self-employed people is on the rise. The sharpest decrease was seen in the number of jobs in the creative and business services (-14.6% over 2010-2013), while the number of self-employed people increased by 14.7%. In the arts and heritage sectors the most striking growth can be seen in the number of self-employed persons (16.5%) while the number of jobs decreased by 10.2% (Cultuur in beeld 2015, p 12).

Research by the Social and Economic Council (SER) and the Council for Culture on the labour market showed a dramatic deterioration in the position of workers in the cultural sector. This conclusion applies to people who are employed, but also for the self-employed. In 2013 self-employed in the cultural sector earned an average € 21,908. This is more than EUR 10,000 below the modal gross income in that year (€ 32,500). (Verkenning arbeidsmarkt culturele sector).

By the end of 2015, the House of Representatives decided to release a one-off amount of EURO 2 million for the improvement of the position of the artist in the labour market. At the request of Minister Bussemaker, the Council for Culture in April 2016 published recommendations on how the funds should be spent. One of the recommendations is to invest in measures to support entrepreneurship in the cultural sector , such as replenishing fund (s) from which low-threshold, low-interest loans and / or microcredit can be provided Verbetering positie kunstenaar op arbeidsmarkt).

Chapter published: 13-03-2017

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