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The structural budget for culture was 34% lower in 2013 than in 2010.

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Netherlands/ 6. Financing of culture  

6.1 Short overview

In the Netherlands, the public expenditure for culture is organised at three levels of government: central government (the state), the provinces and the municipalities (see chapter 3.2). In 2000, the central government’s budget for the arts and culture (excluding the media) was EUR 525 million. In 2010, the budget was EUR 991 million. This amount should be adjusted, taking into account an overall inflation rate of 22% during this period. In the same decade, a few big governmental heritage institutions were included in the budget of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (National Archives, The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands). In view of the above, the budget for culture remained fairly stable, with the exception of some incidental spending financed by the Dutch gas revenues. (Source: Vinkenburg Boekman 95, p 96.)

The total government budget in 2019 amounts to EUR 295 billion in total. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science will receive EUR 38.5 billion (Miljoenennota 2019). Within the Ministry, the departments for education and science receive by far the biggest amount.

Total annual government expenditure on culture is around EUR 2.8 billion in 2017 (municipalities 61%, central government 29%, provinces 10%). In 2016, the contribution of the cultural and creative sector to GPD was 2,3%. In 2017, 285 institutions received a multi-year subsidy with a total budget of EUR 387.2 million. The number of institutions has increased by almost a quarter compared to the period 2013-2016, while the total subsidy budget has grown less (5 percent).

Expenditure on culture by the provinces is EUR 46.9 million in 2017, averaging EUR 14 per inhabitant (on cultural heritage and libraries). Municipalities jointly spend more than EUR 1.7 billion per year on culture; an average of EUR 101 euros per inhabitant (on cultural accommodation, collections, local availability, music schools and libraries). It is difficult to give a clear picture of how municipal and provincial expenditure has developed. In the past few years there have been several changes to definitions, making it impossible to compare data (Cultuur in beeld 2017) (Table 1 in chapter 6.2.2).

Budget cuts

In 2011, the then State Secretary of Culture, Halbe Zijlstra (Cabinet Rutte I 2010-2012), presented the government's cultural budget, marked by cuts of EUR 200 million. Instead of spreading the major reduction of the budget equally over the total number of cultural institutes, the cabinet made targeted choices in allocating the reduced funds. In 2010, the structural budget for culture was EUR 991 million; in 2013, it was an estimated EUR 746 million, with an one-off amount of EUR 100 million to compensate for the so-called friction costs. Compared to 2010, the structural budget declined by 24% in 2013. (Source: Vinkenburg, Boekman 95)


A considerable proportion of the Dutch media is also funded by the three levels of government. The central government is the most important subsidy source for the media. It provides 85% of all grants to this sector, followed by the provinces with over 13%. The municipalities provide only 1.6% of the total media budget (see Table 1 in chapter 6.2.2). The budget cuts established by the Rutte I Cabinet (2010-2012) have fundamentally affected the media. Reductions included a cut of EUR 100 million from the budget of the Dutch Foundation for Public Broadcasting [Nederlandse Publieke Omroep]. In 2013, however, Cabinet Rutte II (2012-2017) decided to reduce the (additional) budget cuts from EUR 100 million to 50 million.

Chapter published: 12-02-2019

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