COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
Print this Page
Print this Page

Netherlands/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation  

8.2.1 Trends and figures

Compared to other European countries, the Netherlands has a high level of cultural participation. In the Netherlands, 58 percent of citizens actively participate in culture, the fourth highest rate according to the European rankings.

Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands all score highly on the cultural index of the Eurobarometer, which measures how European Union citizens think and behave in the area of culture (Eurobarometer). As in most other European countries, overall cultural participation has declined since the economic recession in 2008.

The Dutch Institute for Social Research [Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, SCP] conducts large-scale scientific research regarding social and cultural trends. The SCP operates as an interdepartmental government agency. At the request of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the SCP frequently reports on cultural affairs. In its report Kunstminnend Nederland: interesse en bezoek, drempels en ervaringen [The Netherlands: a nation of art-lovers?], the SCP explores the interests, visits, stumbling blocks and experiences of Dutch citizens concerning the arts. The SCP divides the population into non-interested, interested non-visitors (potential audience), and visitors. Furthermore, it distinguishes two dimensions of art: canonised art forms (like opera, classical music, ballet and theatre) and popular art forms (like pop music, cabaret and film). The research shows that, generally speaking, more people in the Netherlands are interested in popular art forms than in canonised art forms (82% versus 53%) (see figure 1). However, not all people who say they are interested in art forms actually go to see a play or visit a museum. Interestingly, the percentage of people interested in culture who actually do visit cultural venues or attend performances hardly differs between the canonised art forms and the popular art forms (36% versus 34%). Overall however, popular art has a greater reach than canonised art (30% versus 19%). The interest in different art forms depends strongly on life phase, educational level, and social environment.

Figure 1:   Interest in arts by the Dutch population (16 years and older) for 2009.

Source:    SCP: "The Netherlands. Nation of art-lovers?" page 26 (2013).

The SCP also conducts an annual survey on the living conditions of the Dutch population. Participation in culture is one of the topics in the survey (see Table 5).

Table 5: Participation of the Dutch population in culture and arts (18 years and
older) for 2004-2012. Numbers indicate the percentage of population to have visited at least once in the last 12 months.

 

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

Opera

6

6

5

6

4

4

Classical Music

19

19

17

20

18

17

Ballet

8

7

7

7

6

6

Theatre

25

28

28

29

27

26

Museum

44

49

47

50

48

52

Musical

25

27

26

26

24

21

Cabaret

22

24

25

25

22

22

Film

55

56

54

61

61

64

Pop music

25

27

31

29

27

30

Source:  SCP (SLI’06-’14), De sociale staat van Nederland 2015, p. 254

The numbers demonstrate that museums and films welcomed a growing proportion of the Dutch population among their audiences. The other disciplines appear to have struggled to keep up their attendance rates. Opera, classical music, ballet, theatre, musical and cabaret suffered from declining audiences since 2010 (Meerkerk 2018, p. 203 e.v.).

If we look at trends in active cultural participation, active participation was at 72.8, indicating a decline of over 25 percent since 2005. Note, however, that this downward trend is to a large extent caused by the steep decline in the number of students at centres for the arts in 2013, which is a consequence of policy changes at the local level (Meerkerk 2018, p. 204). Many of these students have found alternative places or ways to educate themselves (IJdens 2015). A more detailed view is given in Table 8.2 (note that not all indicators were available in 2005).



The most dramatic decline was in the percentage of performers of theatre, musicals or ballet, which dropped from 14.4 percent of the Dutch population in 2007 to 8.1 percent in 2015. There are a number of reasons for this general decrease in active cultural participation. Apart from the decreased number of places where courses can be taken, people have become busier due to the increasing number of possible leisure activities; the economic crisis may have made it harder for people to financially sustain their hobbies or lessons; and some of the learning may have shifted to online environments (Meerkerken 2018, p. 205; Van der Zant & Van Eijck 2015). Thus, we should consider this trend against the backdrop of a more general shift in which media use, including the Internet, has increased (Vinken & IJdens 2015).

Media

The use of media is the most dominant leisure activity of Dutch citizens. After a long period in which the use of media (TV, radio, print media and Internet) remained stable, it increased between 2006 and 2011 (Sonck et al. 2015). In 2015, the average use of media was approximately more than eight hours a day. On a daily basis that year, the Dutch population (from 13 years old) spends approximately 163 minutes watching television, 99 minutes using the Internet and 130 minutes listening to the radio (Wiegman 2016; see figure 2).

Figure 2: Media-use in minutes on a daily basis 2015
 

Source:       BRO/NLO/NOM/SCP/SKO: Media:tijd TBO 2013/2015

The Dutch Foundation for Public Broadcasting [Nederlandse Publieke Omroep, NPO] is responsible for a large part of the cultural content on national television. The public broadcasters receive funding from the central government to produce programmes that are independent in terms of content. Other requirements are a sufficient amount of pluriformity, quality and accessibility to a socially broad public (see chapter 4.2.6). Public broadcasters also have the legal task of broadcasting a certain number of programmes related to art and culture (see chapter 5.3.7 for information about the Media Act 2008). Every year, the NPO presents a report on the reach of its programmes.

In 2015, public service broadcasting reached 6.8 million individuals with classical music on television, with 50 broadcasts. Since 2009 the number of programs devoted to classical music has been cut by half and the range reduced by 60 percent. The range of informative programs about art is roughly unchanged since 2009, the number of programs being reduced by a fifth (Cultuur in beeld 2016, p. 78).


Chapter published: 12-02-2019

Your Comments on this Chapter?