Summary Access to culture - towards a new system in 2029

Not everyone has equal access to culture in the Netherlands. The cultural offering varies greatly from region to region, as do the opportunities for artists and cultural institutions looking for financial support. This has led the creative and cultural sector to call for change. In response, the Council for Culture, at the request of the State Secretary for Culture and Media, on 26 January released the report ‘Access to culture: Towards a new system in 2029’. With this report, the Council aims to make government funding contribute as much as possible to a rich cultural life for everyone in the Netherlands. This is important, because culture adds colour to people’s lives. In addition, cultural production, practice and experience contribute to the Netherlands’ ‘broad prosperity’ (Dutch: brede welvaart).

The Council for Culture wants to make culture more accessible by:

  • Ensuring a sufficient cultural offering everywhere in the Netherlands, which can be accomplished by distributing funding more evenly across all regions and increasing the culture budget. At present, the availability of cultural facilities varies too much from region to region, which affects what people can see, hear and experience, as well as the opportunities for cultural participation. Regions that already have a robust cultural offering are seeing an increase in the number of opportunities and facilities, while these are declining in other areas.
  • Broadening the offering to include different kinds of creators, cultural organisations and types of culture. Some parts of the cultural field are currently underrepresented, for instance because the genres they work in, or the way they work or organise themselves, do not fit into the current system.
  • Working on the vitality of the sector by firmly anchoring cultural education in and around schools, making funding programmes for talent development more consistent and creating more connections between amateurs and professionals.
  • Reducing the administrative burden for creators and cultural organisations by making it easier to submit applications and account for the funding they receive.

Proposals for change:

  • Introduce a ‘Culture Framework Act’ to enshrine the duty of care for culture on the part of the central, provincial and municipal governments.
  • Fold the central government’s entire culture budget into a single national fund. Each province (and the Caribbean Netherlands) should have its own department within this fund to ensure that every region receives equal attention from a cultural policy perspective. In this new system, the Council for Culture would no longer advise on funding applications, but rather on frameworks and policies.
  • Apply broad notions of art and quality that foster the existing offering while also embracing the new.
  • Increase the annual budget by 200 million euros.

Involve the sector in fleshing out the new system

A lot more work will be needed to flesh out the new system in the run-up to its introduction on 1 January 2029. In order to harness the creativity of creators and cultural organisations, the Council advises the government to further involve the sector.