A new 10 point cultural participation plan is being introduced which will be supported by a new and independent arts education and amateur arts fund.
8.4.1 Amateur arts and folk culture
Characterisation of the amateur arts sector
Amateur arts are an important form of social and cultural activity and constitute an enormous sector in the Netherlands: 5.5 million practitioners. Amateur art is very much pursued in a local setting and therefore contributes substantially to employment in the municipalities. Around 10 000 people are working in the amateur arts as artistic leaders (choreographers, directors); 50 000 people are working as teachers / instructors, of which 12 000 based in the local or regional centres for the arts (creativity centres, music schools, or combined organisations). There are, in total, 20 000 FTE's in the amateur arts sector: 4 600 of them are in the centres for the arts.
The organisation of amateur arts is, for the largest part, run by volunteers; in this way, large social networks are created. 444 000 people (8% of amateur artists) regularly work as volunteers for about 2 hours a week.
Amateur artists take active in one or, often, more than one discipline. Combined, they spend 2.44 million euros per year: 1.25 million to contributions, lessons and courses, 1.19 to instruments, materials and clothing. Governments invest 55 million euros in the sector: central government 8 million euros, provinces 14 million and municipalities 33 million.
The sector counts over 30 000 clubs and 100 umbrella organisations in the following disciplines: audio-visual, visual, dance, music, writing and theatre. There is 1 sector institute for the development and promotion of amateur arts: Arts Factor [Kunstfactor].
There are many professional organisations that support amateur artists in the Netherlands. For example, the Engelenbak Theatre offers its space to amateur artists and groups to hold their performances (this theatre is located in the theatre district of Amsterdam .
Amateur art is a starting point for achieving one of the most important aims of cultural policy: to increase the extent to which individuals participate in culture, both actively and passively. The assumption that people who are involved in amateur arts are more likely to attend performances by professional artists has been repeatedly confirmed by research. This aim of cultural participation underpins the government's involvement in the amateur arts sector. In 1985, the Memorandum on Art Education, Amateur Art and Arts Policy specified that the government's policy was to further and to sustain skills and artistic quality in the amateur arts and to improve the quality and accessibility of art education. It also aimed at establishing ties between the schools and professional artists' scene.
Now, over 20 years later, amateur arts are again in the forefront of cultural policy, in the context of cultural participation, 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] ((for other points in the 10 point cultural participation plan, see chapter 4.2.4, chapter 4.2.7, chapter 8.2.2 and chapter 8.3.1). To support the implementation of various parts of this 10 point cultural participation plan, a new and independent arts education and amateur arts fund will be established: the Programme Fund for Cultural Participation [Programmafonds Cultuurparticipatie]. The new fund is not an "extra service desk" but has its own circle of applicants. It will have 3 programmatic lines: arts education, amateur arts and folk art and 3 themes: diversity, renewal and anchoring of cultural participation. The fund will be operational by early 2009; the budget will slowly rise to approximately 22 million euros in 2012. The fund will have two sections: the first is for the experimenting and development of talent and is meant for the sector itself; the second is for applications in the context of cooperation with provincial and municipal government; the funds will work closely together with both provinces and municipalities and conclude agreements to that end.