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NSC and BBB election programmes: get cultural money for region from national funds. 

There it is, the long-awaited election manifesto of the 'Who Says A, Must Say B' party New Social Contract. Until now, Pieter Omtzigt has not been known as an art lover. Nor are there any notable culture people on his candidate list, so the fact that it contains anything about culture at all is a bonus. It's 9 points, I'll highlight 2: 

  • "To promote the creation of new national and regional productions in drama, musical and film, there should be a separate incentive fund.
  • Culture must be accessible in every region; we advocate a reallocation of funds for arts and culture that requires additional efforts in rural areas."

Slavery Museum

Everyone can do something with the rest of the 9 points: for example, he wants a National History Museum (again), because the existing museums are apparently inadequate. Omtzigt additionally wants a Slavery Museum. Nice, but then why not link the two more intimately? After all, a super-important part of our national history is inextricably linked to slavery. 

One thing with which Omtzigt's party is clearly looking for friends around BBB is the desire for a separate incentive fund for regional culture. Since nowhere in the programme does it say that a fat 50 million in cultural subsidies would then have to be added, the 'redistribution of resources' in favour of the region cannot be explained in any other way than taking money and tasks away from the existing funds.

What does the intended partner want?

That does make it interesting to take a look at how this is regulated at intended partner BBB. The culture paragraph of that party is full of expensive demands. An important part of it, again, is regional distribution, and unlike Omtzigt, Caroline van der Plas's party specifically calls for a halt to diversity and inclusion. Also, and quite sweetly, the party wants subsidy schemes for clubs that apply for grants to be complicated. According to the party, these should receive subsidies "without having to provide expensive research or analysis."

The programme is written in fairly simple language, so that's a start. But then. 

The last point in BBB's culture paragraph makes it clear that certain things are allowed to be complicated. Linguistically, it is a gem of inscrutability. We do it briefly full quote "The treatment of gift deductions with distinctions between SBBI-ANBI and cultural ANBIs with additional deductions will be simplified and fully equalised. As a result, social structures, popular culture and associations important for the social fabric and sense of community will no longer be disadvantaged compared to elitist art forms which, moreover, are often already more than proportionally financed with taxpayers' money."

Dutch at B1 level?

This text is clearly the result of lobbying by rich bankers and the like, who did not send it past the final editors of the election manifesto. As a result, it is no longer about giving sweetly to art, but about broader tax avoidance schemes. It is couched in, we adjust, utterly legalised meta-language that is in flagrant contradiction with the B1-level communications professional prose we register in the rest of the programme. So we translate it briefly for the ordinary people Caroline most wants to reach anyway: "The rules for deducting donations to charities will be simplified and equalised. This will be good for local clubs and less so for arts organisations that already receive large subsidies."

So fewer rules for simple people who don't understand rules, but also for rich people who don't like rules. But who then again are not the existing art elite. Fascinating political views, coming out a bit very to the right of the VVD.

Wondering how that marriage between Pieter and Caroline will turn out.

Read NSC's election manifesto here: NSC_election programme_2023_01

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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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