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Subsidy crisis: if the House comes up with a fix for region and saw line soon, we will be even further home.

'The Fund does value distribution, but within the budget available for multiyear production applications, it is difficult to achieve distribution of pitch. In practice, the vast majority of applications come from the four big cities.' Can't make much clearer the largest arts fund that all the fuss about the uneven distribution of subsidies across the country is entirely down to politics and the Culture Council.

And, it must be said, the Fund which in previous grant distributions included the overproduction of performing arts and the underpayment of workers in culture legitimised, has a point. The current chaos in Dutch art subsidies can be attributed almost entirely to the Culture Council, ministers Bussemaker and Van Engelshoven and the Lower House.

Not that the Performing Arts Fund has done nothing wrong. There are examples of reviews, as with De Kift ('quality punk') and Wende ('Ample enough'), that would be hilarious if they were not so painful. Whereas the Performing Arts Fund sticks neatly, let's say more firmly and iron-fistedly than ever, to the rules, the excursions into reviewer land by committee members are often shocking and totally unnecessary. But it is clear: The Fund set itself the task of making it clear where the shoe pinches, and it has succeeded excellently.


The occasionally idiotic assessments do undermine the Fund's commitment to putting the ball exactly where it belongs: the ministry that has been using embarrassing forms of cash advances and potshots muddled along for 9 years, a Chamber that went to easy times simple scoring opportunities sought and a Council for Culture that after its own firm commitment totally lost his way. Meanwhile, there is all the hubbub surrounding dubious decisions choked with a grab at the museums' coffers and opportunistic outrage at the Fund's policies.

What will happen next? Apart from the fact that the art world is largely becoming a fictional story thanks to Corona and Lockdown, no amount of reparations can improve the situation. Though it will. That 8.6 million the fund is now minimally short of will probably be found somewhere, so the saw line will be shifted again. Then the sector can - virtually - get through another four years. Another one and a half million may be added to shape the spread. Pleasing the art world is not that expensive, The Hague will notice.


After which, in three-and-a-half years, the whole circus will start all over again, and the public will be even less willing than now to give sth. For saving art institutions and creators.

There could be a fine way for the ailing minister Van Engelshoven to save face, and that of 'arts party' D66. There will soon be a new chairman for the Culture Council, which can only be an improvement. The crown members of the same Council may, because of their misconduct easily switched without too much fuss.

The new Council could be given another hefty task by this minister, to develop an entirely new arts funding system. one where all the old is left behind and something new can come along that fits the 21st century and can withstand any new pandemic.

It is possible. The question is whether the will is there in political The Hague, and whether the industry is willing to trade the current, disastrous status quo for something very uncertain. I have a hard head for that.

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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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