At the national level, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is responsible for arts and cultural education via legislation, subsidies and communication. Cultural education (arts and heritage orientation) in primary and secondary education is regulated by national law. ‘Arts orientation’ is a statutory learning domain in primary schools, laid down in law. Arts subjects in lower and upper secondary education also have legal status, as does the course Cultural and Artistic Education (CKV) that was introduced for upper secondary education in 1999. Statutory arts education at school (formal arts education) is funded as part of the general funding of schools by government.
In addition to the above legislation, the Ministry runs special (temporary) programmes to strengthen cultural education within primary and secondary schools. Whereas the focus of these extra programmes was initially on promoting (receptive) cultural participation through arts education at secondary schools, it shifted to improving the quality of arts education at primary schools with the programme Cultural Education with Quality (Cultuureducatie met Kwaliteit, 2013-2016). This programme has been extended in 2017 with an extra four years (until 2020) in order to make current projects sustainable and to reach more primary schools. One of the aims of the programme is to stimulate collaboration between primary education and the cultural field. There also is a separate progamme for music in primary schools (More Music in Class – Méér Muziek in de Klas) and funding for primary education in film, new media and heritage. Although the main focus of arts education policy is still on primary school, there is some attention for secondary education and it is expected that this attention will grow in the near future.
The Ministry works closely with the municipal and provincial authorities. The programme Cultural Education with Quality uses match funding or co-funding to stimulate local (+90 000 inhabitants) and provincial governments to invest in arts education in primary schools. A total of 46 local and provincial governments have received match funding out of this programme for the period 2017-2020. The Ministry also works with match funding to stimulate local governments to appoint one or more Culture Coaches who promote and coordinate the collaboration between primary schools and the cultural field. Another incentive used by the Ministry is the Covenant Culture and Education (Bestuurlijk Kader Cultuur en Onderwijs), which was signed in 2013 by the Ministry, 11 provinces, the 35 largest municipalities and the sector organisation of primary education (PO-Raad). The covenant contains various agreements on arts and cultural education for the period 2013-2023, such as the commitment of provinces and municipalities to promote local agreements between schools and cultural institutions.
Non-formal, out-of-school arts education is partly funded – to a diminishing extent – by the local government and partly privately funded (by consumers). It is supplied by private art teachers and amateur art organisations (choirs, brass bands, theatre-groups, etc.), by subsidised local ‘centres for the arts’ and by organisations and projects specialising in developing artistic talent. In recent decades, the national government had no policy on non-formal, out-of-school arts education. From 2019 onwards, out-of-school arts education seems to be back on the policy agenda and probably will be incorporated into the Ministry’s new policy programme Cultural Participation for the period 2021-2024.
The Cultural Participation Fund is responsible for distributing the national funds for arts education and cultural participation. The National Centre of Expertise for Cultural Education and Amateur Arts (LKCA) collects, develops and circulates knowledge on arts and cultural education, and amateur arts. Both are funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.