1. Cultural policy system
Last update: July, 2019
Dutch cultural policy is based on the premise that the state should distance itself from judgements regarding the value of art. Artistic development has therefore largely been the result of the initiatives of private citizens and a large number of foundations dedicated to culture. Over the years, the government has gradually assumed the role of a moderator of cultural activities, apart from being the largest patron of public art and culture.
By law, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science is responsible for creating conditions conducive to maintaining, developing and disseminating (both socially and geographically) cultural expression. Dutch cultural policy is reformulated every four years, but there is a high degree of continuity in practice. Internationalisation, participation, education, innovation, talent development, entrepreneurship and the preservation of cultural heritage have been priority areas. From 2011 onwards, the main focal points shifted to participation, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. In her plans for the period 2021-2024, current Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven prioritises fair pay in the cultural sector, accessibility of culture for as wide a variety of Dutch inhabitants as possible, cooperation between the different tiers of government and a broad range of cultural offerings to reflect the different preferences that exist in both society and the cultural field itself.
Besides cultural policy, the central government also develops policy concerning media affairs. Dutch media operate on the basis of freedom of speech and independence. The government is not allowed to interfere in media. The Dutch government sees it as its responsibility to provide a good climate for media pluralism and access to free, pluralistic, independent and reliable information of high quality. For that purpose, the government enables an independent representative public broadcasting system with the obligation to offer high-quality, varied and balanced content. The principles governing the organisation, funding and tasks of these public broadcasters are laid down in the Media Act (2008) (see chapters 2.5.3 and 3.5.3).
According to the Cultural Policy Act (Wet op het specifiek cultuurbeleid, 1993), the Minister of Education, Culture and Science is obliged to present a policy memorandum every four years. These policy plans review the past policy cycle, name developments that impact the execution of cultural policy and give the guidelines for cultural policy in the years to come. Thus, in these memoranda, a plan is laid down with regard to public spending on the cultural sector as a whole for a four-year period, providing a number of cultural institutions with a relatively secure basis for management and planning in the knowledge that they have sufficient financial support. The responsibilities that are assigned to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, are mainly found in providing conditions for the preservation, development and social and geographical distribution of cultural expressions of national significance. To do so, the Minister should follow the principles of excellence and diversity (in disciplines).
In order to provide a structure for a supply of high-quality art and culture, a national basic infrastructure (BIS) is determined every four years, listing the cultural institutions that are to receive direct state subsidy. The Dutch Council for Culture provides the government with recommendations for this BIS. Because the number of institutions applying for state funding increased substantially after 1997, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science established a number of public cultural funds in 2006 in order for them to distribute means to cultural institutions and artists based on their specific criteria (for a full list of these funds, see chapter 7.2.2).
After an amendment made to the Cultural Policy Act in 2009, smaller cultural institutions and companies had to submit their subsidy requests directly to the public cultural funds (see chapter 7.1). With that, the responsibility of these funds increased; besides granting project-based subsidies, they can also allocate structural two and four year-subsidies. In addition to these subsidies, provinces and municipalities also award grants (see chapters 1.2.3 and 1.2.4).
For the policy programmes the central government implements in collaboration with other ministries and public institutions, for instance in relation to education and philanthropy, please see chapter 1.2.6.
The arts and culture were introduced into the governmental portfolio in 1918, with the formation of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Science (then: OKW). There has been a department for arts and culture ever since, with a minister and/or a state secretary responsible for the cultural portfolio. An overview of the most important developments:
1930: The start of the implementation of policy regarding the media. With a resolution on broadcasting time, plans for a single national broadcasting company were abandoned in favour of a system that reflected the ‘pillarised’ Dutch society.
Until the 1970s: Dutch society was characterised by ‘pillarisation’ (verzuiling). Different social groups, or "pillars" – liberals, socialists, Catholics, Protestants – expressed their ideology via their own specialised newspapers, broadcasting channels and amateur art organisations. Pillarisation had a major influence on the media system. Its impact is still visible in public broadcasting today (see chapter 2.5.3).
1945-1960: Post-war, the government extended its financial support to new areas such as film, theatre and literature; a gesture intended to repair the disrupted relationship between the artist and society. At that time, it was generally assumed that state aid to art and culture should be temporary. In the early 1950s, the Dutch Arts Council (now Council for Culture) was established.
1960-1970: The influence of the ideological pillars decreased in Dutch society, while the importance of diversity in artistic expression grew. Subsidies were given based on a new criterion: artistic quality. The goal was to achieve a nationwide infrastructure to support a cultural supply of a standardized quality. Support of the arts and culture became more structural and municipalities were involved in building local facilities.
1970s-1980: Cultural policy became increasingly important in the government's welfare policy. The benefits and relevance of culture to society as a whole was recognised as a priority, notably in terms of cultural participation and access to all.
1980-1990: Due to the economic stagnation of the early 1980s, budget cuts were made and cultural institutions were stimulated to reduce their dependence on subsidies. In 1988 the systematic (four year) Arts Plan was adopted, in which the Council for Culture assesses the quality of the institutes that receive direct state funding.
1990-2000: Cultural organisations were privatised and encouraged to become more independent and increase their focus on their markets and audiences. They were particularly stimulated to cater to a younger audience as well as to the increasing population of ethnic minorities. The Cultural Policy Act of 1993 (Wet op het Specifiek Cultuurbeleid) bound itself to the renewal of the cultural policy plan every four years.
2000-2010: In 2003, State Secretary Medy van der Laan (Liberal Democrats) called upon cultural institutions to become more financially responsible. From 2006 onward, smaller cultural institutions and companies had to direct their subsidy requests to the public cultural funds (see chapter 7.1). Minister of Culture Ronald Plasterk (2007-2010, Social Democrats) switched the main focal point to participation and better facilities for and guidance of outstanding talent. The economic crisis of 2008 brought an end to the relatively long period of gradual growth in the state budget for culture and media.
2010-present: The coalition agreement of the Rutte I Cabinet (2010-2012) determined the outlines for subsequent budget cuts. Media affairs were separated from the cultural portfolio. In June 2013, Minister Jet Bussemaker (Social Democrats) revealed her vision for culture in the policy letter Culture moves (Cultuur beweegt: de betekenis van cultuur in een veranderende samenleving), which stresses the social value of culture and creativity in a changing society. Her 2015 letter Space for Culture (Ruimte voor cultuur) contained the principles for cultural policy in the period 2017-2020.
In May 2016, a policy framework on international cultural policy was published by the Ministries of Education, Culture and Science and of Foreign Affairs (see chapter 1.2.6). Followed by Besluiten culturele basisinfrastructuur periode 2017-2020 (Decisions on the Cultural Infrastructure) in September. That document explained the division of subsidies among the institutionsin the national infrastructure for the period 2017-2020. In total, 88 cultural institutions and 6 funds receive an amount of EUR 379.91 million per year. EUR 10 million extra is spent in the national basic infrastructure, including on the six cultural funds. This amount mainly benefits the development of talent, cultural education and public outreach, especially in the regions (see chapter 1.2.2, 1.2.3, 1.2.4 and 2.1).
Since October 2017, Ingrid van Engelshoven (Liberal Democrats) has been the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, which makes her responsible for culture, as well as higher education, science and emancipation. Arie Slob (Christian Democrats) is Minister for the Media (in addition to primary and secondary education and archives; see the coalition agreement Confidence in the Future, chapters 1.5 (culture) and 1.7 (media)). In her 2018 letter Cultuur in een open samenleving (Culture in an open society), Minister Van Engelshoven sets out her cultural agenda. Her priorities are: encouraging openness and curiosity from a young age onward as well as the development of new culture and –makers and a strong and inspiring cultural environment (in relation to heritage, the creative industries and international cultural policy). The current Rutte III government is structurally investing an additional EUR 80 million in culture and historic-democratic awareness with an additional one-time investment of EUR 325 million in heritage.
 Meerkerk, E. van en Q.L. van den Hoogen (eds.). 2018. Cultural Policy in the Polder: 25 Years Dutch Cultural Policy Act. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press: 19.
Last update: July, 2019
Last update: July, 2019
In the Netherlands, public governance is organised as a three-tier system consisting of a central, provincial and municipal government. In each tier, the parliament, provincial councils or local councils have the right to amend the financial and governmental recommendations of the cabinet, provincial deputies, mayors and aldermen. All three tiers pursue their own cultural policy with their own funding and advisory streams. Collaboratively, they attempt to create an effective cultural environment throughout the country.
The central government has the task of creating conditions in which the other levels of government and the cultural organisations can function best. The cultural policy memorandum that the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science formulates every four years, also includes the distribution of certain subsidies to provinces and municipalities.
In preparing and fixing regulations, laws and cultural policy programmes, the central government takes an important position and often sets the tone. However, it covers only one-third of all expenses related to art and culture and must therefore often deliberate with regional and local governments and motivate them to get behind a shared policy agenda. The main role of central government, through the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is to take responsibility for the availability of high quality subsidised arts, cultural institutes and companies. The central government therefore subsidises organisations that host collections or performances of (inter)national importance, such as museums, symphonic orchestras, opera, theatre and dance companies, among others.
The central government is also responsible for the national digital library, national monuments and the national public broadcasting system. Another important task is the drafting of laws concerning cultural and media-related issues. Examples of these laws are the Copyright Act (1912), the Media Act (2008) and the Fixed Book Prices Act (see chapter 4.2 for an overview of the legislation on culture).
Council for Culture
Because it is a basic principle of the Dutch government to remain neutral in assessing arts issues, it leaves decision-making about the arts mainly to various committees of independent experts. The Council for Culture is the most important body to advise the government on the principles and implementation of policy plans.
National basic infrastructure
The cultural institutions and the cultural funds directly supported by the central governmental through the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, are part of the so-called ‘national basic infrastructure’ (BIS). This infrastructure consists of the institutions and funds that are selected to receive subsidy from the central government on a quadrennial basis. The Council for Culture acts as the government's advisory body with regard to the BIS.
In the latest Recommendations for the national basic infrastructure (Advies culturele basisinfrastructuur 2017-2020), the Council for Culture qualified 88 cultural institutions and six public cultural funds for the current four-year state subsidy. In April 2019, the Council published its recommendationsfor the national basic infrastructure 2021-2024 (Cultuur dichtbij, dicht bij Cultuur), on which the Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven will base her cultural policy memorandum for the coming four year
Last update: July, 2019
In the Netherlands, provinces as well as municipalities are responsible for the implementation of their own cultural policies. The central government is responsible for the financial and the legislative framework, while the provinces take responsibility for regional distribution and the maintenance of institutions beyond municipal borders. They are also responsible for the accessibility of arts education facilities in the provincial regions. Because they oversee the cultural interactions between their level and the municipalities, they view themselves as the ‘broker’ in between (as summarised by the Association of Provinces of the Netherlands (IPO) in their 2005 pamphlet Choices in Cultural Policy).
According to the IPO, their provincial tier is the most flexible when it comes to allocating funds and appointing instruments, as opposed to the central government and the municipalities which mostly anchor their investments in national funds, cultural institutions and local facilities. When it comes to providing subsidies, Dutch provinces supply means to cultural initiatives that move beyond regional interest, as they actively support the promotion of regional cultural identities at an (inter)national level. Provinces also monitor the connection of culture to other policy fields, such as spatial planning, the cultural and creative industry and social policies. For regional broadcasting policy, see chapter 2.5.3.
The framework for policy coordination between the three government tiers is laid down in the General Framework for Intergovernmental Relations with Respect to Culture (2012). The framework includes joint principles concerning cultural heritage and cultural education and is based upon consultation between the umbrella organisation for the provinces, the Association of Provinces of the Netherlands (Interprovinciaal Overleg, IPO), the umbrella organisation for the municipalities (the Association of Netherlands Municipalities, or Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten, VNG) and the central government.
The framework includes policy priorities and the distribution of finances over the cultural sectors, funds and programmes. It forms the basis for the development of the cultural covenants between the partners involved and elaborates on the division of tasks between the three governmental tiers. All matters that deal with linking central government policy to the policies of the provinces and municipalities are discussed on an annual basis.
In recent years, the Dutch government has been focused on decentralising its tasks by funding cultural amenities spread across the western, northern, eastern, southern and central regions, as well as those in the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. In the near future, the focus will be on intensifying the cultural policy cooperation between central government and other levels of government, in particular the nine main cultural centres (the G9; Amsterdam, Arnhem, Eindhoven, Enschede, Groningen, Maastricht, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht).
National and regional synchronisation
Late 2017, the Council for Culture advised Minister Van Engelshoven to add a third cultural policy component to the national basic infrastructure and the cultural funds: the RIS (regional cultural infrastructure). In reaction to this, Minister Van Engelshoven published the letter Culture in an open society in 2018, in which she asked the Dutch provinces, municipalities and regional institutions to collaborate on the creation of regional cultural profiles consisting of an overview of the ‘basis, chain and top’ cultural suppliers that enhance the region’s identity. With these profiles, the basic cultural infrastructure can better take into account the composition and the needs of the population, regional identity and the local climate for the makers and artists in the various disciplines: Cultuurbeleid 2021-2024 Stedelijke en regionale profielen (Cultural policy 2021-2014 Urban and regional profiles).These profiles were to include a SWOT-analysis of the regional cultural ecosystem as well as suggestions for programmes and funding. The regional profiles were submitted to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science late 2018 and will be assessed for the country’s cultural policy priorities in the 2021-2024 period. In the guidelines for the cultural policy in 2021-2024 (2019), Minister Van Engelshoven does not opt for constructing a RIS, but does stress the importance of a stronger cooperation and synchronisation between national and regional policy. To this purpose, she wants to expand the basic cultural infrastructure (see chapter 1.1).
Last update: July, 2019
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.
Last update: July, 2019
Apart from friends associations, citizens are not yet organised as advocacy groups for the arts and culture. Leading friends associations, however, try to influence the political arena on single issues. The Rembrandt Association, for instance, counts 12 000 members who support the acquisition of new pieces of art to enrich museum collections, and who at the same time act as defenders of the Dutch public collection of sculpture, paintings and applied arts.
Many NGOs are active in the cultural sector. Next to private art funds and private lottery organisations, larger banks like ABN AMRO and Rabobank purchase art on a regular basis for their private collections. The Dutch Municipal Bank (BNG) funds all kinds of projects, including an annual award for the municipality with the best policy on cultural heritage. It also tries to stimulate talent by rewarding young poets, musicians and other artists.
Artists are mainly organised in a labour union, the Kunstenbond (Artist’s Union), which lobbies for labour conditions, collective bargaining and copyright interests. All subsidised companies and institutions are united in the advocacy association for the arts and cultural heritage, Kunsten ‘92.
Furthermore, most sectors have a professional membership organization, aiming to represent the interests of all institutions within their specific sectors. In recent years, these organizations have taken a stronger lobbying position. The key players in this field are:
- Museums Association (Museums)
- VNPF (Association for Dutch stages and festivals dedicated to popular music)
- VSCD (Association of boards of theatres and concert halls)
- NAPK (Dutch association for producers in performing arts)
- NVBF (Dutch exhibitors associations for cinema’s, arthouses and movie houses)
- VOB (Association for public libraries)
- Cultuurconnectie (Membership organisation for institutions for cultural education and amateur arts)
- Netherlands Gallery Association (Membership organisation for Dutch galleries for contemporary art)
- Federation Dutch Creative Industries (Uniting membership organizations of amongst others (interior) architects, designers and photographers)
Last update: July, 2019
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science depends on cooperation with other ministries. Consultations with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Affairs must be undertaken constantly in order to safeguard the interests of arts and culture. In some cases, committees for interdepartmental cooperation are installed – the duration of their existence may vary. Some examples of inter-ministerial or intergovernmental cooperation are:
- Several ministries work together on ‘top sector’ policy, which was implemented nationwide in 2011. The creative industries are (next to agriculture & food, chemicals industry, energy, high tech industries, life sciences and health, horticulture, logistics and water) one of the nine top sectors. In this policy field, the Ministries of Education, Culture and Science, Foreign Affairs and Economic Affairs cooperate together. The aim is to increase the added value of the creative industries (encompassing dance, pop, broadcasting, printed and other media, design – including fashion and gaming –, architecture, urban development, landscape architecture and e-culture) to society and the economy (see chapter 3.5).
- The Ministries of Security and Justice, Finance and Education, Culture and Science initiated a Gift Inheritance Tax Act (Geefwet) to stimulate philanthropy, including a cultural multiplier for gifts to culture, by making it fiscally more attractive (see chapter 4.1.4).
- The Ministry of Security and Justice is responsible for copyright legislation. The Copyright Act (1912) and the Neighbouring Rights Act protect literary, scientific and artistic works, and the creative achievements of artists. The Ministry of Justice implements the acts (see chapter 4.1.6).
- The Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations has established a subsidy scheme which aims to allocate a certain percentage of the construction costs of government projects to be spent on works of art (see chapter 4.2.4).
- The Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment cooperates with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science on cultural heritage and spatial planning. Together, the ministries formulated the 2011 policy letter Character in focus: vision for heritage in spatial planning (Kiezen voor Karakter). With this letter, they aim to stimulate and improve the modernisation of monumental care and its incorporation in spatial planning (see chapter 3.1 and chapter 4.2.2). The government wants to ensure that heritage management not only takes account of the monument itself, but also its setting and the area around it. Local authority zoning plans must reflect the cultural heritage present in the area. Linked to this are the efforts of the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations to create a new Surroundings Act (Omgevingswet), compelling municipalities to form a vision that combines all long-term policies affecting the physical living environment.
- Since 1997, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science share the responsibility for international cultural relations, one of the priorities of Dutch cultural policy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for cultural attachés in embassies, representing Dutch culture abroad, activities carried out within the Council of Europe and UNESCO, and for the geographically strategic regions. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science takes responsibility for cultural policy and the funding of BIS institutions with international potential. There is also cooperation in a programme on internationalisation of the creative industries and the performing arts. Both ministries support the organisation DutchCulture. This centre for international cooperation supports the implementation of Dutch international cultural policy and contributes to the foreign agenda and cultural image of the Netherlands.
The Board of State Advisors (College van Rijksadviseurs) advises the cabinet on matters concerning quality of environment. Recently, they launched Panorama Netherlands: a perspective on the future of the spatial design of the Dutch environment, combining issues such as climate change, architecture and housing, renewable energy, population ageing etcetera.
Last update: July, 2019
In accordance with the Cultural Policy Act (1993), the Dutch government guarantees a financial contribution to a selection of cultural institutions and six public funds (see chapter 1.1). These cultural institutions form the so-called national basic infrastructure (BIS) and can be seen as the organisations that ensure the supply and development of high quality cultural output. Especially the museums in the BIS are often former state owned museums that were privatized in the last decades of the 20th century in possession of state collection and therefore sure of their position in the BIS. Since the implementation of the Heritage Act in 2015, the preservation of the state collection is ensured and no longer plays a role in selecting museums for the BIS (see chapters 3.1 and 4.2.2). In the guidelines for the cultural policy in 2021-2024 (2019), Minister Van Engelshoven expresses her desire to follow the advice of the Council for Culture to include the public activities of those museums in the Heritage Act as well.
Institutions that originated from one of the levels of government, often remain strongly tied to the government they originated from, for instance because (parts of) their collection or the building they reside in is still government owned. On the provincial and municipal level, not all cultural institutions are privatized. Provincial institutions are particularly focusing on cultural education and participation. Several of these institutions joined forces in the Council of Twelve.
Since 2011, cultural institutions were urged by the state government to increase their self-generated revenue and show more entrepreneurship if they wanted to get funded. Since then, several institutions disappeared due to corresponding budget cuts. Especially the museums have proven themselves capable of expanding their own income. However, this focus on entrepreneurship has caused the diminished number of institutions to produce more output, causing negative effects on, amongst others, the cultural labour market and budgets for maintaining archival activities and the care for collections.
Numbers on the solely private institutions are scarcely available. This availability at the moment is not proficient for providing a clear view of the ratio between public and private institutions.
Last update: July, 2019
Table 1: Cultural institutions, by sector and domain (oftentimes no clear distinction between the amount of public and private institutions could be made, so the number is given in the sector that is prevalent).
|Domain||Cultural institutions (subdomains)||Public sector||Private sector|
|Number (year)||Trend last 5 years (In %)||Number (year)||Trend last 5 years (In %)|
|Cultural heritage (1)||Cultural heritage sites (recognised) (1*)||454 (2012) 482 (2017)||+6,2%|
|Archaeological sites||1433 (2012) 1457 (2017)||+1,7%|
|Museums (2)||Museum institutions||799 (2013) 697 (2017)||(2*)|
|Archives (3)||Archive institutions||155 (2012) 140 (2017)||-9,7%|
|Visual arts (4)||Public art galleries / exhibition halls||75 (2014) 85 (2018)||+13,3%|
|Performing arts||Scenic and stable spaces for theatre (5)||530 (2012) 546 (2017*)||+3%|
|Total number organisations in performing arts (5)||345 (2012) 333 (2017*)||-3,5%|
|Dance and ballet companies||(5*)|
|Symphonic orchestras||10 (6)|
|Libraries (3)||Public Libraries||175 (2012) 170 (2017)||-2,9%|
|Audiovisual||Cinemas/movie theatres (7)||139 (2012) 152 (2017)||+9,4%|
|Broadcasting organisations (8)||6 (2018)||12 (2018)|
|Interdisciplinary||Socio-cultural centres / cultural houses (9)||154 (2012) 121 (2017)||-21,4%|
|Other (please explain)||Obviously, these numbers do not represent all the available institutions and venues. In a more informal infrastructure, cultural capacity is much broader (10)|
(1) Heritage Monitor, (1*) UNESCO world heritage sites plus designated conservation areas;
(2) Statistics Netherlands, (2*) the museum definition that was used, changed in 2015, which had an effect on the population used for these figures;
(3) Statistics Netherlands;
(4) De Zaak Nu, this is an approximation;
(5) Statistic Netherlands, (5*) no differentiation can be made in the background of companies and organisations within the performing arts (theatre, music, dance, etc.), this is only possible in the amount of performances;
(6) these are the major symphonic orchestras which applied for funding in the BIS in 2016, so it’s an approximation
(8) for public: these are the broadcasting associations that are acknowledged for public broadcasting: Ministry of Education, Culture and Science; for commercial: the number of organisations behind the different television stations, Stichting Kijkonderzoek;
(10) see for instance Lelieveldt and Boele (2018).
Notes: NA: not available
* provisional data
Last update: July, 2019
In accordance with the Cultural Policy Act (1993), the Dutch government guarantees a financial contribution to a wide and varied range of cultural institutions and programmes. The cultural institutions directly funded by the state government, collectively form the so-called national basic infrastructure (BIS). Traditionally, the composition of the BIS does not alter very much from the one policy period to another. However, some changes did recently occur that are closely linked to ideas that concern the functioning of arts and culture.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, governmental budget cuts and rapid shifts in political views regarding subsidised art and culture, resulted in a strong decrease in the number of institutions that are incorporated in the BIS. In the period 2009-2012, 172 cultural institutions and seven public funds were part of the BIS. In the period 2017-2020, this number fell to 88 cultural institutions and six public funds. This increased a problematic side of the BIS that has been expressed by institutions that are not part of it: the somewhat rigid character that strongly favours the more canonical arts. In its recent series of advice reports that lead up to the next policy period (2021-2024), the Council for Culture has addressed this issue by stating that a wider variety of art forms should be eligible for structural funding by the government. An important part of this argument is that through this, arts and culture would better reflect the Dutch society.
This societal argument has also come into effect in the Library Act (Wet stelsel openbare bibliotheekvoorzieningen) of 2015. This new act stressed the role and responsibility libraries have in making available knowledge and information, development and education, advancement of readership, organising meetings and debate and coming into contact with arts and culture. The effect of this act has been that libraries have been organising a growing amount of courses and events. This all corresponds with direct policy choices by the then Minister of Culture Jet Bussemaker following the presentation of her vision letter Cultuur beweegt: De betekenis van cultuur in een veranderende samenleving (Culture moves: the meaning of culture in a changing society) (see chapter 2.1).
Next to legitimising cultural institutions by stronger links to the societal dimension, the first two Rutte administrations have also strongly emphasised cultural entrepreneurship. In tandem with budget cuts, cultural institutions were faced with strong incentives to increase their corporate income. This resulted in a clear image showing that not every sector is as well-equipped for accessing a large amount of funds next to subsidies. Museums, especially the bigger ones, were particularly successful in this respect, whereas the art platforms for contemporary art and libraries are examples of institutions that generally proved not as successful. Furthermore, the central government, the provinces and the municipalities are cooperating in the development of a digital infrastructure for national and local archives. The National Archive is the archive of central government. Together with the archives of the larger municipalities, the National Archive is working on the development of a so-called e-Depot. The National Archive aims to make digital archives permanently accessible for citizens (see chapter 3.2).
Last update: July, 2019
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.
Last update: July, 2019
The Netherlands participates in multilateral cultural relationships through its membership of, for example, the Council of Europe and the United Nations (UNESCO).
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe's vision, that freedom of expression is paramount as a fundamental right, plays an important role in Dutch media policy. Since the start of the programme in 1988, the Netherlands participates in Eurimages, the Council of Europe Fund for the co- production, distribution and exhibition of European cinematographic works. The Netherlands also participates in the European Audiovisual Observatory. The observatory's task is to improve the transfer of, and access to, information on the four areas of film, television, video/DVD and new media. The Netherlands also participates in the Heritage Open Days that take place in the 50 member countries of the European Cultural Convention. The Netherlands has ratified the Granada Convention, the Valletta Convention and the European Landscape Convention. These conventions form the backbone of the Dutch care for (archaeological) monuments and cultural landscape in its environment.
The Netherlands currently takes part in the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union (2014-2020) and will also take part in the period 2021-2027. The Dutch Creative Europe Desk, part of DutchCulture, is responsible for promoting and facilitating participation in Creative Europe. It offers advice for organisations that want to apply for the programme. Furthermore, the Dutch Creative Europe Desk takes a leading role in developing new programmes within the Creative Europe scheme for the next period like Music Moves Europe.
In 1992, the Netherlands signed the UNESCO World Heritage Treaty (1972), to protect and stimulate knowledge of and respect for natural and cultural world heritage. The Kingdom of the Netherlands has ten natural and cultural sites on the World Heritage List. The seventeenth century canal ring (grachtengordel) in Amsterdam and the Van Nellefabriek (a modernist factory complex) in Rotterdam are the most recent sites on the heritage list, added in 2010 and 2014 respectively.
The National Cultural Heritage Agency is in charge of implementing the World Heritage Convention in the Netherlands. The Dutch World Heritage sites are united in the Foundation World Heritage Netherlands and the foundation’s primary goal is to increase the visibility of the Dutch World Heritage sites and to create a platform for exchanging knowledge and experiences.
The Dutch National Commission for UNESCOwas established in 1947 and is part of a worldwide network of nearly 200 commissions. Its primary objective is to increase the overall visibility of UNESCOin the Netherlands, to raise awareness about the mission of the organisation and to advise the Dutch government on the implementation of the UNESCO Conventions. It is also partner in various capacity building programs, such as the program for World Heritage site managers. In 2015 and 2018, it (co)organised the international ICCROM training First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Armed Conflict.
In 2009, the Netherlands ratified the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transport of Ownership of Cultural Property. The Information and Heritage Inspectorate cooperates with both customs and police to fight illicit traffic in cultural goods. With regards to stolen cultural goods, the Dutch police works with the Interpol network, especially using the database of stolen works of arts.
The 1954 UNESCO Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict guarantees the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict. The Netherlands played an important part in the establishment of this convention. It was drafted in 1954 in the Peace Palace in The Hague, after which it was ratified immediately by the Dutch government. The same happened in 1999, when a second protocol was added to the convention.
In order to protect the intangible heritage, UNESCO drafted the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in 2003. The Netherlands ratified the Convention in 2012. The Dutch Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage (Kenniscentrum Immaterieel Erfgoed Nederland), funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, coordinates the national inventory of the Dutch intangible heritage based on nominations drawn up by communities that safeguard this heritage. In 2017, the craft of the miller operating windmills and watermills was the first Dutch inscription on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In June 2018, the Netherlands was selected to be a member of the Intergovernmental Committee of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Intangible Heritage, for a period of four years.
In 2005, UNESCO introduced the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which is a legally-binding international agreement that ensures artists, cultural professionals, practitioners and citizens worldwide can create, produce, disseminate and enjoy a broad range of cultural goods, services and activities, including their own. The convention was ratified by the Netherlands in 2010. The Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science are responsible for implementing and monitoring this convention.
The Netherlands currently has 16 registrations in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, for example the The Diary of Anne Frank, the VOC/WIC archives and the 1944 documentary on the Dutch transit camp Westerbork. The Netherlands is also part of the trans-national organisation the Dutch Language Union (see chapters 2.5.4 and 4.1.8) and the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA).
Last update: July, 2019
There are several international networks in which the Netherlands plays a role, such as IETM and On the Move. The Ministries of Education, Culture and Science and Foreign Affairs do not support these networks directly. Instead, the national cultural funds and cross-disciplinary institutions funded by the Ministries take part in these networks where they deem necessary.
The Netherlands takes part in the European network of Mobility Info Points. The Mobility InfoPoints deliver advice to artists on international cultural mobility. The Dutch Mobility Info Point is part of DutchCulture and collaborates with other European Mobility Info Pointsand the European Union to set standards for the type of support a Mobility Info Point can deliver.
The Netherlands supports a variety of international cooperation projects through its embassies and consulates in the focus countries (see chapter 1.4.1). Also, international projects are supported by the different national cultural funds. For example, the Performing Arts Fund NL has a budget of EUR 487 500 available to fund international collaboration projects in 2019. DutchCultureinitiates and coordinates various interdisciplinary programmes in the partner countries of the international cultural policy. The Netherlands hosts different non-profit organization that are involved in international cultural collaboration, such as the European Cultural Foundation (ECF), an independent NGO providing funds for European cultural projects.