Skip to content

Ravine year 2026: Utrecht shows what consequence austerity can have

You already read here free messages. So join Culture Press now. We have more than 400 loyal members. People involved in the arts, working in it, setting policy. People who value an independent view of arts journalism. Just like you.

Join NOW To keep Culture Press going!

We need to talk about the Ravine year for a moment. After all, in 2026, the government is cutting billions from the municipal fund. Until now, this has been quite abstract because, let's face it: do we have any idea what money in your city goes where and from whom it comes? Municipal spending is a black box. My city has now listed what that municipal spending is all about. At the request of the Board of B&W, Utrecht officials have figured out what all the municipality could cut back on in 2026, when the national government's contribution will be decimated. That means they need to find 75 million euros in Utrecht's municipal coffers. Not nothing.

The list was in the mailbox here yesterday, and it takes some swallowing. But that, of course, is the point. All municipal expenditures have been listed, along with what a cut would yield in cash and cost in social loss. So councillors now have a neat list of which things they can sacrifice. 

That produces descriptions like the following: 

11.22 Failure to realise youth culture house Leidsche Rijn - Vleuten de Meern

Coverage for capital costs is included in the investment agenda and coverage for operations in the culture programme. €425,000 concerns programming and €280,000 concerns investment (unprofitable top).

Influential option

Both components could be released, should a choice be made to cancel this investment.

Social impact

The realisation of a youth culture house in Leidsche Rijn - Vleuten de Meern is a long-cherished desire of many young people from that part of the city. There is little on offer for young people. The social effect is that with the scrapping of this facility, dissatisfaction will increase and risk of nuisance is magnified."

Which could then be squared away against this one, for example: 

11.3 Reducing commitment to National Immigration Services

Influential option

Reduce subsidy for national foreigners' services (subsidies to NGOs)

Social impact

Less long or less intensive guidance, resulting in slower realisation of the future prospects (staying in the Netherlands or returning to country of origin). A consequence may be that waiting lists are growing and that homelessness among this group is increasing, resulting in safety and humanitarian issues. This measure is realistic only if the state decides to make the provision to continue on a multi-year basis (this is currently a pilot). Assumption is that if the state continues the provision and the municipality gets sustainable budgets, a part of the budget to be used as an austerity proposal. If the central government or the municipal council decide stop this facility, then the minimum municipal contribution in the first years will be needed are for winding down the provision.

Implementation

Currently, there is temporary funding, which ends in 2024. Given the election results and the views on migration, it is highly uncertain whether subsequent funding will be continued and if so on which way. In case of discontinuation of this provision, the first two to three years the (shelter) provision should be phased out.

This option is scalable."

Before you take to the streets right now to occupy a town hall, close an intersection or start shouting really loudly: there is a clear disclaimer to all this:

"This document concerns an official inventory of possible savings for the purpose of decision-making by the college and city council. This is a technical inventory regardless of desirability and does not contain any proposal or decision by the college or city council."

So read, and shudder, but realise that this is an extraordinarily useful piece: now we have a neat overview of what is on the council's plate, and we may understand a little better the terrible dilemmas facing councillors in the time ahead. 

Annex-Ambatical-inventory-of-cutting-options-Utrecht-Budget-alternatives

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

Small Membership
175 / 12 Maanden
Especially for organisations with a turnover or grant of less than 250,000 per year.
No annoying banners
A premium newsletter
5 trial newsletter subscriptions
All our podcasts
Have your say on our policies
Insight into finances
Exclusive archives
Posting press releases yourself
Own mastodon account on our instance
Cultural Membership
360 / Jaar
For cultural organisations
No annoying banners
A premium newsletter
10 trial newsletter subscriptions
All our podcasts
Participate
Insight into finances
Exclusive archives
Posting press releases yourself
Own mastodon account on our instance
Collaboration
Private Membership
50 / Jaar
For natural persons and self-employed persons.
No annoying banners
A premium newsletter
All our podcasts
Have your say on our policies
Insight into finances
Exclusive archives
Own mastodon account on our instance
en_GBEnglish (UK)