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After the budget debate, the performing arts sector will have to be even more patient. Until spring.

The culture sector will have to be patient for a while yet. Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven had no intention of changing her policy on Monday 18 November, during the discussion of the culture budget in the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Culture. Despite a fairly broadly supported desire, especially from the opposition, to do something about the 8.6 million cut in the Performing Arts Fund's budget, at best she wants to take a look in the spring to see if things have gotten out of hand with the number of promising applications.

About that rebate, by the way, she said it was not really a rebate, but a shift. The public gallery responded honourably. After all: not everyone who has money now is shifting. Still hanging over the market is the fact that there is no more money to continue supporting some 50 to 60 small and medium-sized makers and companies after 2020.

Wait until Spring...

'It will only become clear in the spring how many have been applied for, and even then it remains to be seen whether all those applications meet the minimum quality standard,' the minister told Corine Ellemeet of the Green Left. The latter - with Lodewijk Asscher (PvdA) and Peter Kwint (SP) - had called for the planned cut to be reversed already now. Even Salima Belhaj of D66 did lean towards a motion in that direction, although she did not want to thwart her minister too much. After all, the party has yet to loudly celebrate having managed to rustle up an extra 80 million structurally for the arts during the formation with the inflexible VVD. Unfortunately, criticism of the negatives of the continued VVD policy is louder than that good news. This is also because most of the new money will go mainly to the rather richly endowed heritage sector.

Le salaire de la peur

Next, about that VVD the following: There seem to be people working in arts and culture who can easily wrap you up with pretty words and sweet pleas. After all, that's their job. That is why the VVD under Mark Rutte has decided that every six months a new and unknown, but ambitious member of parliament will get the Culture spokesmanship. That way, you make sure you don't build up any relationships and lobbyists have no idea who they have in front of them. So that way you can remain tough on the arts. Because the VVD thinks it should be. Toughness is needed because the arts sector is spoilt and subsidies also lead to spoilt spectators. People, for example, on small budgets who have no idea how expensive art is.

Every new VVD spokesperson also has to distinguish himself, of course, because otherwise you will never rise from the sewer drain that the culture spokesperson position actually is. So the newest, El Yassini, thought it would be a good idea if the ticket to a museum or opera stated what the ticket would actually cost, and what amount the taxpayer contributes. A typical VVD trial balloon, and everyone reacted as they should: angry. Angry enough to have the point repeated often enough. That way it penetrates well into the constituency, which agrees with El Yassini that the cultural sector has no idea how expensive it actually is. Because that not-so noble goal was behind it, it turned out in 2nd term, when the MP said this almost verbatim.

 

'Of course we can do the same for other sectors, such as healthcare,' the VVD member riposted to a question in that direction from the minister, 'but the cultural sector is of the fine experiments anyway, and this fits in nicely with that.' The motion to that effect was discouraged by the minister.

The Fugitive

Is there any further hope for (performing) artists from the debate? It was lively, that's one thing, but it was also an opportunity for all the MPs present to repeat their usual rants, the PVV in the lead. That parties like PvdD, FvD, Denk and Christenunie had not even bothered to come says a lot.

The mass attendance of concerned performing artists, supported by students from the various theatre schools, had to sit out the debate largely outside. Their confidence in politics will not have grown as a result. There will be a last chance in the spring, if it turns out that the subsidy pots of the Fund and the Council for Culture are heavily oversubscribed. Then it could be possible that the Chamber will decide on a first repair.

Good to know Good to know


We reported on the debate in detail via twitter. For that, check our twitter feed and the hashtag #tkculture.

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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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