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Unique cooperation against VAT intentions. And now move on. 

The far-right coalition Schoof 1 has - even before there is a cabinet - created a first. Never before has there been such a wide protest against a proposed tax measure. An advertisement against the plans to increase VAT on sports, culture, events and media from 9% to 21% appeared in all daily newspapers. So we include those here too, even though Culture Press is a grateful user of the Small Business Scheme and we are VAT exempt. 

The collaboration is unique and we should cherish that. Just last week, we could read that the boss of the Platform Entrepreneurial Gym Owners seemed to feel a bit screwed. According to him, his sector was "collateral damage" in Wilders cs' hate campaign against culture. At least that was how read in the AD. Reason enough to congratulate Wilders on a successful move to pit sports and culture against each other.

Connectors at work

But then there was that ad. Arranged in four days. Something in me said the initiative would come from Jeroen Bartelse, director of Utrecht's pride TivioliVredenburg and co-boss of arts umbrella Kunsten '92. But thanks to an attentive reader, I can now report that the initiative comes from Astrid Weij of Kunsten '92 and Thomas Drissen of the Creative Coalition. They devised campaign, involved hospitality and sports and arranged funding.

Action successful?

There is now a very real chance that the VAT increase will not be reflected in Schoof 1's cabinet plans. After all, even Wilders' favourite mainstream newspaper Telegraaf is running the ad. Nor would it be the first time that a VAT measure on the soft sector would fall through. Such measures never deliver what they are intended to anyway, because in the case of non-emergency spending, the revenue-reducing effect of a VAT increase usually neutralises the extra revenue from that higher VAT. 

So that does draw a hefty line under the bill of the four political groups that want to cut heavily on citizens and foreigners to keep business within the borders. So the question now is where in the ever-expanding 'free space' of the outline agreement that 953 million will now be conjured up today. Would Omtzigt's NSC, which vowed beforehand not to cut culture, stand firm? If so, it may have to make heavier cuts to media. Will gyms protest a cut to advocacy groups like the Cyclists' Union?

Coalition of health

For the fresh coalition of VAT victims, it will be a challenge to keep the bundling up while the far-right coalition will do everything to play them off against each other. So now is the time to offer newspapers and books in combination with subscriptions to gyms, encourage exercise through libraries and encourage music-making yourself at dance schools. To name a few. 

All the things the proposed VAT increase had an effect on contribute to a mentally and physically healthier society. A healthier society is bad news for a politics that relies on anger, resentment and selfishness. 

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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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