6. Cultural participation and consumption
Last update: July, 2019
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.
Last update: July, 2019
In the Netherlands, approximately 40 percent of the population is actively engaged in cultural activities. If the more receptive activities are included, this number rises to 63 percent as far as culture as a whole is concerned, with 54 percent practitioners in arts and 32 percent in cultural heritage. Especially music, visual arts and the relatively wide category of film, video, digital graphic design and photography are popular.
Especially kids and youngsters are culturally active. As far as adults are concerned, women and those with a higher degree in education take a more prominent role in cultural participation. Those who are participating in artistic activities, tend to be more active as volunteers, in sports, heritage and other cultural activities. Most of the artistic practitioners are positive about the availability and accessibility of cultural amenities.
Table 3: People who participated in or attended a certain cultural activity during the last 12 months in the Netherlands (in % of the population)
|Activities heavily subsidised by the state||2012||2014||2016|
|Opera performances & concerts of classical music||18||17||16|
|Classical dance & ballet||8||8||8|
|Activities without large public subsidies|
|To read books not related to the profession or studies||79||79||78|
|In paper format (Usually use)||78||76||74|
|As ebook (Usually use)||16||22||23|
|Directly on the Internet (Usually use)||-||-||-|
|To listen to music (daily) (1)||65 (2013)||62 (2015)||62 (2018)|
|In a computer or directly on the Internet|
|To read periodic publications (Usually read): Magazines (2)||50 (2006)||23 (2011)||16 (2016)|
|To read periodic publications (Usually read): Newspapers (2)||66 (2006)||49 (2011)||40 (2016)|
|Directly on the Internet (sites of newspapers or other websites for news) (2)||16 (2006)||28 (2011)||28 (2016)|
|To watch videos (Usually watch)||68.0||57.7||45.9|
|Directly on the Internet|
|To watch television (Usually watch)**||-||-||-|
|Directly on the Internet||-||-||-|
|To listen to the radio (Usually watch)**||-||-||-|
|Directly on the Internet||-||-||-|
|To play videogames (Usually play) (1)||17 (2013)||19 (2015)||18 (2018)|
|To use computer for entertainment or leisure (Usually use)||-||-||-|
|Internet for entertainment or leisure (Usually use)||41 (2013)||22 (2015)||22 (2018)|
Broek, A. van den and Y. Gieles. 2018. Het culturele leven: 10 culturele domeinen bezien vanuit 14 kernthema’s. The Hague: SCP; (1) Sonck, N., S. Pennekamp and F. Kok. 2014. Media:Tijd 2014. Amsterdam/The Hague: NPO/SCP; Waterloo, S.F., A.M. Wennekers and P.R. Wiegman. 2019. Media:Tijd 2018. Amsterdam/The Hague: NLO, NOM, SKO, PMA and SCP; Wennekers, A.M., D.M.M. van Troost and P.R. Wiegman. 2016. Media:Tijd 2015, Amsterdam/The Hague: NLO, NOM, SKO, BRO and SCP; (2) Wennekers, A.M., F. Huysmans and J. de Haan. 2018. Lees:Tijd - Lezen in Nederland. The Hague: SCP.
*Historical city, village or building
** Elaborate research is being done on the amount of time people watch television and listen to the radio (1), percentages of the population in this respect are not available.
Table 4: People who have carried out artistic activities in the Netherlands in the last 12 months by type of activity, in % of total population, period 2012-2016.
|Painting or drawing||18||17||20|
|Other visual arts||11||10||11|
|Photography and making videos, digital design||23||21||22|
|Dance and ballet||9||7||7|
|Playing an instrument||19||19||19|
Broek, A. van den and Y. Gieles. 2018. Het culturele leven: 10 culturele domeinen bezien vanuit 14 kernthema’s. The Hague: SCP.
 Neele, A., Z. Zernitz and T. IJdens. 2017. Kunstzinnig en creatief in de vrije tijd. Monitor amateurkunsten 2017: beoefenaars en voorzieningen. Utrecht: LKCA.
 Broek, A. van den and Y. Gieles. 2018. Het culturele leven: 10 culturele domeinen bezien vanuit 14 kernthema’s. Den Haag: SCP.
Last update: July, 2019
A table on household expenditure per field/domain will be integrated shortly, as the most recent data is not available yet.
Last update: July, 2019
The cultural participation landscape in the Netherlands is highly diverse and, to a certain degree, also fragmented. Cities and larger villages in the Netherlands have cultural centres, centres for the arts, libraries and/or civic recreation centres where cultural activities take place. Municipalities are the main source of funding. Some of the cultural and recreation centres are dedicated to specific groups in society, for example students, children or people from a particular cultural background. In rural areas some smaller villages have a multifunctional building (or ‘Kulturhus’ (culture house)) which facilitates cultural, educational, sports and other leisure activities. On a regular basis, a library bus offers the inhabitants of these villages the opportunity to borrow books. The amount of members of public libraries has decreased from 4.039.000 in 2005 to 3.707.000 in 2017.
Some cities have a ‘centre for the arts’ as well, which provides, for example, music lessons and painting workshops (mainly non-formal arts learning). But the amount of centres for the arts has decreased drastically from 237 in 2005 to 130 in 2015 because of cuts in culture budgets. The impact of these developments has been subject to debate (see also chapter 5.4). The centres for the arts were important employers for arts teachers. As half of these organisations disappeared, many arts teachers had to find new ways to employ themselves and find pupils. Most of them started to work as a one-person business, without funding. Some of them decided to cooperate in a collective business. It is not clear yet how these developments have influenced cultural participation rates, the accessibility, quality and diversity of out-of-school arts education, or the amount of teachers working in the field.
Governments do seem to have a growing interest in arts and cultural projects that aim to improve social wellbeing, societal participation and/or health of citizens. These projects are often funded by a combination of governmental bodies, public or private funds, third sector associations and/or banking foundations. In most cases these projects arise ‘bottom-up’, as government policy stimulates citizens and organisations to come up with ideas and initiatives.
An example is the programme Age Friendly Cultural Cities, which promotes active cultural participation among the elderly. There are also national and local programmes and measures for community arts projects that aim to improve the viability of neighbourhoods and artistic projects targeted at the inclusion of refugees, people with disabilities or migrant communities. In the past ten years, the amount of cultural interventions in health care and long-term care has increased as well. Over the past years, there has also been a growing interest in urban arts, often regarded as a subculture that specifically appeals to young adults. In 2015, the Cultural Participation Fund launched the programme Urban Arts Talent to stimulate the professional development of talented urban artists. Urban arts have also become part of the curriculum of some institutions for vocational or higher education.