In 2013, the social-democratic Minister of Culture, Jet Bussemaker, presented Culture moves: the meaning of culture in a changing society (Cultuur beweegt; de betekenis van cultuur in een veranderende samenleving), the policy memorandum for the period 2013-2016 in which she reveals her ideas on culture in an evolving world. The priority areas for the period 2013-2016 are: cultural education, talent development, creative industries, digitalisation and social dialogue. The Minister stresses the importance of arts and culture for society and their added value for society and the economy.
Essential to the recent cultural policy approach is a balance between the intrinsic value of culture and the instrumental benefits for social and economic processes. Dynamic developments in society presuppose the powerful contribution of museums, music, theatre and other cultural domains. In spring 2018, current Minister of Culture, Ingrid van Engelshoven, published a vision statement, Culture in an open society (Cultuur in een open samenleving). She outlines the following policy themes, based on the coalition agreement: culture makes curious; space for new makers and culture; an inspiring environment; culture without borders; and a strong cultural sector. According to the vision statement: creative and artistic talent will be stimulated; everybody (irrespective of age, cultural background, income, place of residence) needs access to arts and culture; there should be a broad availability of known and unknown forms of art; and there will be a safe place for art as a reflection on society and its citizens. The government will increase its focus on creators of new forms of culture instead of only providing funds for renowned companies, symphonic orchestras and museums.
The role of the artist
Important developments in choosing focal points for cultural policy, can be recognised in how artists get a stronger position in the policy’s description. In the policy documents Ruimte voor talent in het cultuurbeleid (Room for talent, 2014) and Uitwerking visie op talentontwikkeling (Vision on talent development, 2014), Minister Bussemaker sets out her plans for talent development. These plans are developed further in her letter Ruimte voor Cultuur (Space for Culture, 2015). Itcontains the principles for cultural policy in the period 2017-2020. After the cuts in the cultural sector in 2012, instigated by Secretary of State Halbe Zijlstra (Liberals), Bussemaker’s budget was increasing slightly. Over EUR 18 million was made available to artists and cultural institutions for the development of young talents, innovation and cooperation.
The increasingly precarious labour position of those working in arts and culture continues to be a theme in the policy plans of Minister Van Engelshoven. To strengthen the labour market position of artists and workers in the cultural and creative sector, the government made EUR 400 000 available in 2016. Commissioned by the Ministry, Kunsten ’92 (the representative organisation for the arts, culture and heritage sector in the Netherlands) has drawn up, in collaboration with the cultural sector, the Labour Market Agenda for the Cultural and Creative Sector 2017 – 2023 (Arbeidsmarktagenda culturele en creatieve sector 2017-2023) with recommendations and proposals for the Minister. Some important points are: improve the position of freelance artists and people in other creative professions; improve the working conditions; and strengthen sector-wide cooperation in order to conduct a social dialogue and to respond to the changes in the labour market. A special group of representatives of the arts and culture sector deals with the distribution of funds (see also chapter 2.3).
Another important development in current cultural policy is the harmonisation of cultural policy efforts between the different government tiers. The central government, the Council for Culture and the regional authorities are keen to increase coordination and cooperation between the various administrative levels. The municipalities and provinces emphasised the need to cooperate more and to have a closer look at the function and qualities of cultural institutions in the region. In cooperation with provinces, municipalities and the cultural sector, an inventory was made of what is needed for culture and the associated resources.
In June 2018, the Minister invited the municipalities and provinces to draw up profiles, together with the cultural sector, setting out their vision on culture and arts in the region (see chapter 1.2.3).
 The December 2017 letter from the organisation Interprovinciaal Overleg (Interprovincial Consultation) with recommendations for the Minister can be found here: Bouwstenen voor cultuurbeleid vanaf 2021 [Building blocks for cultural policy from 2021].