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Cultural policy Rutte cabinet advised against by patrons and entrepreneurs; PVV absent from hearing on future of Dutch culture

This is an infographic from a series made by Abel, Niels and Willem at Mediamatic. Based on an idea by Ruben Pater.

Actually, there was only one compliment for the cabinet, which is in the process of cutting an average 30% from a sector that employs tens of thousands of Dutch people. At the hearing convened by the second chamber on Monday 20 June, only cultural sociologist Arjo Klamer was positive about the decisiveness shown by state secretary Zijlstra. That he subsequently thought that the decisiveness of the State Secretary for Culture went a bit too far, and that vision was lacking, was a pity for the cabinet.

With that, the outcome of the hearing is not good for the image of Rutte cs. After all: not only 'usual suspects' had come to the Groen van Prinstererzaal in The Hague. Those 'usual suspects', who had already been shouting, voting and drafting petitions in recent months, had their turn in the morning. Eleven institutions and governments came with countless signatures and pleas, as fervent as they were, to preserve themselves and/or the sector.

Real surprises came next. After all, who would have expected the director of the entirely privately funded museum to be Hermitage Amsterdam would make one of the strongest pleas for retaining the subsidy for cultural SMEs in particular? And what of the Concertgebouw Fund, also completely subsidy-free, which now fears for its own future because the players of the Concertgebouw lose a lot of money? And for those who thought that, after a rough winter, all this fuss about this VAT increase would not be so bad: the unsubsidised Concertgebouw is already reporting a sharp decline in ticket sales for the coming season, and that is because of the forced price increase.

Largest common denominator of reactions from the rich of the Netherlands: the government's narrow-minded attitude about arts and culture has ruined the climate for individuals and businesses. Nothing has been done to make it attractive for those individuals and organisations to give money to art. Mr Defares, a major funder of art, even spoke of treachery and deceit here. According to him, the government is letting down patrons and is not showing itself to be a reliable partner. A view, incidentally, shared by institutions as diverse as the VSB Fund and the Vandenende Foundation. Case in point: if a patron wants to put money into an institution, he can deduct that money from tax, but only if the investment lasts for 5 years. If the government then withdraws from such an institution before the five years are up and the institution collapses, the patron still has to pay the tax authorities the money previously deducted. Thus, it does not pay to invest in arts companies.

All the reactions, including those from the municipalities and provinces, showed that neither the minister, the prime minister, nor the state secretary, have really looked into the matter in recent months. There is nothing ready for the market to take over the government's work, and the suggestion that it can all be sorted out within a year is nonsense, according to the true connoisseurs: to transform Dutch society into one that likes and gives a lot to the arts will take at least 15 years. And even then, according to patronage advocate Steenbergen, an American model is impossible here: The Netherlands does not have a culture that includes mega-rich people who are completely above the law. And let those be precisely the corkl of the American art sector.

Once again, by the way, the cabinet proved economical with the truth. Halbe Zijlstra, which initially wanted to introduce the cuts as of 2014, in order to have one more year to work on a plan, withdrew that transitional year under pressure from the municipalities. According to those authorities, who also spoke that afternoon, that was true, but Zijlstra forgot to add that the municipalities did not ask for quick implementation, but were against a transitional year in which nobody would know where they stood. Small detail in the picture, but giant essential, of course.

Speaking of image-building, there was great anger at the absence of the PVV, in the person of culture spokesperson Martin Bosma. Bart de Liefde, arts spokesperson for the VVD, again emphasised that the cuts were really a VVD plan, but did hasten to mention that the VVD also counted artists among the hard-working Dutch. He did, however, bring up the PVV framing introduced by Martin Bosma at a debate in December: many municipalities were already cutting back on art before the cabinet came up with its cuts. This lip service to the absent delegate cannot hide the fact that cultural policy is now also gnawing at the PVV's roots: the Limburg PVV has turned against the cuts. That is already in black and white.

On 27 June, the chamber will meet with the cabinet to discuss budget cuts. Perhaps it will then also discuss the plan of Amsterdam alderman Carolien Gehrels. She worked out a compromise proposal that assumes 150 million euros of cuts instead of 200 million. Coverage for the 50 million difference she hopes to find in a saving on the so-called friction costs (costs for benefits and lawsuits over buyouts), which with Zijlstra's plans amount to 150 million euros. In addition, she expects an investment from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. After all, that puts a high stake in the creative industry, and cultural SMEs also fall under that, according to the alderman.

What will happen on Monday 27 June is uncertain. The CDA asked for more creativity from the sector and will want to spare the region, the VVD, through Bart de Liefde, may have to distance itself from the PVV's harsh visionlessness. And the PVV, in order to keep the sweet peace in Limburg, will have to let go of the rock-hard demand of 200 million.

Things are getting busy in the Hague corridors. As always, we will keep you updated.

Infographic from a series made by Abel, Niels and Willem at Mediamatic. Based on an idea by Ruben Pater.

10 thoughts on “Cultuurbeleid kabinet Rutte afgeraden door mecenassen en ondernemers; PVV afwezig bij hoorzitting over toekomst Nederlandse cultuur”

  1. Why don't these artists go get a real job.
    Let them go do their leftist hobby in their spare time.
    So do I.

  2. To all those idiots who write (and think) things like: The really good artist doesn't need a subsidy, they will come up on their own.... Out of millions of footballers, only 2000 ended up making money! Miners are very much needed to make the best ones better!
    So that's how it goes, even in art!

  3. First of all, let some of the above inform themselves properly before blathering populistly.
    Art needs subsidies, just like, farmers, house buyers, childcare, noise barriers, brass bands, etc. etc. It always will. The degree of it may be variable.
    Art can largely do without subsidies and has long since started to bring in private funds.
    The absence of the PVV is a great shame. Even greater shame is that the media and journalism apparently think this is normal.
    This makes it even more clear that with curbs on critical discourse and the dismissal of population groups and critics, our democracy is slowly but surely eroding.

  4. Culture keeps itself alive. Doesn't need a subsidy. The really good artists survive on their own. So Halbe Zijlstra is doing a good job. We all have to make cuts and the fact that art has to be cut is no longer logical. Subsidies on these left-wing hobbies should therefore stop and the money that becomes available should go to education and infrastructure.

    1. Dear Mrl Kam. We are curious about the evidence for your thesis. Because there are lots of people citing evidence against your thesis. And we are foremost interested in facts, of course.

  5. Now that the contours of this stinking and vindictive mismanagement are becoming a little more visible, isn't it time for the esteemed media to go wide about it? This is mismanagement and capital destruction and 'tis happening right in front of your nose without effective opposition. And of course laughter for the PVV: how easy it is to do so much damage. What a sweet revenge. Actually, the whole cultural world should go black for a while: no theatre, no festival, on TV only news bulletins and marching music, white culture pages in the newspapers.
    In France, they once flattened all festivals that way. Worked fine.

  6. So finally clarity from sensible people. It is politics, i.e. the CDA, that must make the difference, urged on by the top of the NL business community. Unfortunately, the VVD is hardly sensitive to this anymore. This club is slowly drifting away from its own roots. I had already drawn that conclusion weeks ago in a conversation with Bart de Liefde. He said then, "we have signed a deal with the PVV, and we are sticking to it".

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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