Cultural participation is mainly supported and funded at the local level. Many municipalities subsidise amateur arts associations, like choirs, theatre clubs and orchestras and the facilities these associations use. About 237 municipalities also have a local fund for cultural activities or sports, aimed at children and teenagers who grow up in poverty. Some larger municipalities stimulate receptive cultural participation by means of a City Pass (Stadspas). This free pass is issued to people with a low income and offers discount on admission fees.
At the national level, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is responsible for cultural participation. After some cabinets mainly invested in cultural education programmes for schools, the Ministry will launch a new ambitious cultural participation programme in 2019-2024, with a much broader scope than only school-related activities. In 2019 and 2020, the Ministry invests EUR 2.9 million per year, and this investment will rise to EUR 8.5 million per year in 2021-2024. In 2021-2024, the programme will have a matching subsidy scheme in order to stimulate local and provincial municipalities to invest (more) in cultural participation. One of the most important aims of the government is to improve the accessibility for individuals and groups who are underrepresented in cultural life by means of the following initiatives:
- The Cultural Participation Fund has been operating since 2009 as a public cultural fund subsidised by the national government. It was founded to stimulate cultural participation with programmes concerning cultural education (such as Cultural Education with Quality and Impulse Music Education), amateur art and talent development. In 2019, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science initiated a new subsidy scheme specifically for cultural participation, which for an important part will be carried out by the Cultural Participation Fund. The subsidy scheme aims to create a closer collaboration between culture and the welfare sector, to increase the cultural participation of people with disabilities, and to support and professionalize heritage volunteers.
- The Youth Fund Sports & Culture is a national network of local and provincial funds. These funds allow children and teenagers who grow up in poverty to participate in cultural activities or sport. The Youth Fund Sport & Culture is a public-private fund and is funded by provincial and local governments, companies and private individuals. A total of 237 municipalities are connected to the fund. In 2018, 11.600 children received financial support for participation in cultural activities. From 2019 onwards, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science will invest EUR 350.000 per year in this fund in order to increase the number of supported children to 40.000 in 2024.
- Wide-ranging subsidy scheme combination officers (Brede Regeling Combinatiefuncties). By means of this subsidy scheme, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment stimulate local governments to employ so-called combination officers. These officers make powerful connections between sport clubs/cultural organizations and schools, health and welfare organizations. Because of the success of this program, the Ministries increased the budget in 2019 with EUR 1 million per year and expanded its scope.
While the new cultural participation programme is mainly aimed at active cultural participation, the national government also invests in receptive cultural participation with the following initiatives:
- The National Digital Heritage Strategy is aimed at the development of a national, cross-sectoral IT infrastructure of digital heritage. The overall goal is to strengthen the societal value of the collections of archives, libraries, museums and other heritage organisations. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science invests EUR 6 million per year in 2019 and 2020 in the improvement of digital accessibility of heritage.
- In 2019, more than 750.000 secondary school students received a Culture Card. This card was introduced in 2008 in order to stimulate cultural participation as part of the newly introduced course Cultural and Artistic Education (Culturele en Kunstzinnige Vorming, CKV). The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science makes EUR 5 available for each student (EUR 4.9 million per year). Schools participate voluntarily and 90 percent of them contributes an additional EUR 10 per student. Secondary schools can use the Culture Card to pay for cultural activities for their students. Students can use the card to get a discount on cultural activities they undertake in their spare time.
- In 2016, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science introduced the MBO Card. With this card, students in intermediate vocational education (MBO) receive a discount on tickets for museums, musicals, theatres and festivals.
Museum Pass holders receive free admission to more than 400 museums in the Netherlands (special exhibitions are not included). The Museum Pass was initiated by museums in 1981 and is handled by the Museum Pass foundation. Annual costs for adults are EUR 64.90 and for children and teenagers EUR 32.45 a year. In 2005, 315 000 people possessed a Museum Pass; by 2018, that number had risen too almost 1.4 million. In total, they visited a museum 8.9 million times, an increase of 2.3 percent compared to 2017.