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Supervisors come to ministry with cry for help: 'What is gone once is hard to rebuild.'

'We are coming up with this heartfelt cry because we are genuinely concerned that the cultural sector is not overcoming the lockdowns of the past two years.'This is what the chairmen of the Supervisory Boards of a large number of cultural institutions are writing today in a letter to Ernst Kuipers, Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, and Robbert Dijkgraaf and Gunay Uslu, Minister and State Secretary of Culture, respectively. The cultural and (former) political heavyweights, such as Carolien Gehrels, Jozias van Aertsen and Marri De Gaay Fortman, are asking the ministers to reopen the sector, and then not until 20:00, which is not actually an opening, but until 24:00, with the bar closing at 20:00 and -staying- closed.

That would mean a return to the protocol as it was until the current lockdown. That was a protocol that did not lead to outbreaks and waves of infection, and could potentially work under the super-infectious omicron variant as well. They state: 'Our concerns are about cultural survival, more so than economic survival (which, by the way, is also increasingly an issue as you understand). As regulators, we see that a critical limit has been reached. The constant scaling up and down is making long-term planning(sic) of museums, producers and venues impossible, the many independent artists, technicians and others working in this sector are looking for accommodation elsewhere, so it is already visible that cultural quality will continue to be under pressure in the future. 'Once what is gone is difficult to rebuild.'

Le Guess Who

In doing so, the regulators echo previously expressed fears that the loss of support experience in particular is going to break the sector down in the long run. For example, I myself recently spoke to Johan Gijsen, director of the award-winning Utrecht festival Le Guess Who, who is deeply concerned about the loss of experience in the area of supervising and welcoming the artists for the festival, who come from an awful lot of different cultures, and who each need to be treated in their own way. If you lose the people who have experience with that, you lose goodwill with your international guests.

Just a small detail, but with far-reaching implications. The regulators conclude with an ominous last sentence: 'At this critical moment, we can still do everything we can to revive the cultural sector. But any longer delay will make this all but impossible.'

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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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