The Netherlands’ international cultural policy contributes to the quality and international visibility of the Dutch cultural sector. At the same time, the policy furthers the objectives of Dutch foreign policy, and is used for cultural diplomacy. It is a joint policy of the Ministries of Education, Culture and Science, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. The government maintains an infrastructure of institutions that stimulate and facilitate exchange, presentation and cooperation, such as embassies, funds and supporting institutions. Within this infrastructure, DutchCulture functions as a centre for international cooperation and has a coordinating, advisory and informative role. The Dutch diplomatic posts, of the 17 countries that are the specific focus of the current international cultural policy, have a central role in implementing the policy. Together with the Dutch public funds for culture and several institutions that work in international cultural cooperation, they implement multiyear strategies. The country specific strategies can be found on the website of DutchCulture.
On provincial and municipal level, there is also support for international cultural cooperation. For example, the policy plans of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area and the united cities of Noord-Brabant include a paragraph on international cooperation. Leeuwarden – Fryslân European Cultural Capital 2018 stimulated international cooperation as well.
The Netherlands does not have an own publicly mandated cultural agency outside its borders. Instead, the cultural departments of the Dutch embassies and consulates fulfil this role. DutchCulture supports the cultural attachés at the diplomatic posts abroad. The diplomatic posts and the agencies meet each other in EUNIC clusters. DutchCulture coordinates the EUNIC cluster in the Netherlands.
The international cultural policy has a system of focus countries. Through this selection, time and means are allocated to intensify the cultural cooperation with this country and build a sustainable network and knowledge exchange. The six Dutch public funds for culture offer subsidies for international activities. There are co-production agreements for film with many countries, among others Canada and China. The Netherlands has a memorandum of understanding on cultural cooperation with several countries, for example China. To improve the (international) mobility of collections, there is a loans indemnity subsidy scheme.
The Netherlands actively participates in diverse programs of the European Union like Erasmus+ and Creative Europe. The Dutch Cultural Participation Fund offers subsidies for trans-national exchange and the National Institute for Cultural Education and Amateur Arts participates in international networks. The 2013-2016 period was characterised by a focus on the expansion of cultural markets and on economic benefits. For the period 2017-2020, there is a broader view on art and international cultural cooperation, which has led to a focus on the intrinsic and social value of culture, next to the economic value. Still, the purpose of international cultural policy is to strengthen the Dutch cultural sector. At the same time, there is also the goal to create more room for the arts to contribute to a safe, just, future-proof world and to use culture effectively as a tool of modern diplomacy. The current Minister of Education, Culture and Science has increased the budget for international cultural cooperation in 2018 with EU 2 million per year.
In December 2019, the policy framework for international cultural policy 2021-2024 was published.