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Nice paragraph on culture in the speech from the throne. And good news for the library.

"A good example of how the government wants to encourage that power from the bottom up is through culture. Culture confronts, inspires and bridges contradictions. From festival grounds to concert halls, and from museums to music schools. That is why the cabinet continues to promote the enjoyment of culture, for instance with the Culture Card for young people. The cabinet also wants to bring back the public library in as many places as possible, as a place where people can read, learn and meet."

Cherish these words, spoken in the 2023 Throne Speech. After years in which the word art or culture could not even be heard, or sounded only in a non-artistic context, there - after 2020 again - is a complete paragraph. State Secretary Gunay Uslu rightly glowed with pride. This may be called a small highlight in one of the shortest careers of a minister on culture. We will still miss her.

92 million added

51.7 million now, and an additional 58 million from 2025 for libraries in every municipality, plus 34 million for fairer pay for workers in the arts sector. The former is nice, the latter a very small token for a lot of bleeding. The backlog is so great that structurally doubling it would only really make a difference. The alternative still hangs over the sector's head: production cuts.

Perhaps something else is possible. Jeroen Bartelse, foreman of the Taskforce Cultural and Creative Sector and umbrella organisation Kunsten '92, explained only yesterday at a congress in TivoliVredenburg that the whole process of grant applications and assessments, plus all appeal procedures, costs 100 million euros every year. Subsidy money that is needed to get subsidy. We should be able to do this differently.

We don't know anything yet

What it will achieve? Possibly another year's worth of libraries and youth cards. Who dictates next year's Throne Speech, we will all decide on 22 November, a day before the current Culture Budget is debated on 23 November.

Until then, we find ourselves in 'limbo'. We know nothing yet of Omtzigt's plans, we see an unfeasible something-for-all wish list from BBB, so two of the parties that have every chance of defining our culture for the next few years have no idea.

For now, we can take another look at a million-dollar bill that includes amounts for culture that look nice. And meanwhile hold our hearts, in between all the vision documents, action reports and lobbying documents. Which party will soon write the plans for a new member of government on culture?

You can find everything about the million note here (news release) and here (The figures).

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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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