Within the general (non-legal) framework for intergovernmental relations with respect to culture, the municipalities have the responsibility for accommodations for performing arts and the financial management of municipal collections.
On a practical level, they are responsible for the provision of education in the arts and the support of amateur arts, i.e.:
- Accommodating performing arts institutions, and local exponents such as theatre groups.
- Providing financial support to municipal museums, libraries, archives and music schools.
- Maintaining various venues and scheduling performances.
(See also: chapters 5 and 7.)
As is the case at the provincial level, the basis of the municipal cultural policies is outlined in the covenants and agreements made between the three governmental tiers. According to the Association of Provinces of the Netherlands (IPO), provinces stimulate the collaboration between their tier and the municipalities and help in the development of sound municipal cultural policies. The bigger cities are more able to act as equal partners in this regard, whereas smaller municipalities mostly put the developed policies in practice. All tiers benefit from a strong municipal cultural policy, according to IPO, as this ‘enables provinces to develop their middle management position’.
According to the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten), Dutch municipalities dedicate themselves to the accessibility and affordability of culture and sports. They take on a coordinating role, facilitating a broad yet coherent range of cultural activities within and outside of schools. When it comes to local broadcasters and libraries, Dutch municipalities focus on stimulating innovative governance. Dutch municipalities are also the executioners of the Heritage law (see chapter 4.2.2), that includes legislation on museums, archaeology, and monuments.
In the Netherlands, municipalities are the largest providers of subsidies. Cultural funds and bodies that advise on subsidy matters exist at municipal level, like they do at provincial and national level. The Arts Councils of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague are just three of the many municipal examples that can be named in this respect.