Periodic Report Netherlands

Países Bajos
Executive summary

The ratification of the Convention did not require any addition or amendment to existing legislation in the Netherlands. The Cultural Policy (Special Purpose Funding) Act has been the basis of the Dutch government’s involvement in culture since 1993. Cultural diversity is firmly entrenched in the Act, which states that the Minister is responsible for preserving and developing cultural expressions and disseminating them across social and geographical boundaries or otherwise propagating them.

National policy is implemented roughly along three lines:

  • A basic national infrastructure of institutions (BIS) which are directly funded by the government, because they have a specific function in national arts and culture or play a key role in the regional and urban infrastructure.
  • Six cultural funds for the performing arts, film, visual arts, literature, the creative industries and cultural participation respectively.
  • Policy programmes, such as cultural education and entrepreneurship, run jointly with other ministries including the Ministry of the Interior, the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, with other tiers of government (provinces and municipalities) and/or with other parties in the public and private sectors.

Collaboration with provinces and municipalities is an essential element of cultural policy. All three tiers of government pursue their own, autonomous cultural policy with their own funding streams. Collaboration prevents fragmentation and bureaucracy and promotes cohesion and the effective use of available funds. Together, the three tiers of government are able to provide a robust and wide-ranging level of facilities. In 2009, the combined cultural budget was over USD 4.2 billion, of which USD 1.2 billion was provided by national government, USD 364 million by the provinces and USD 2.6 billion by the municipalities (based on the exchange rate in 2009).

Dutch cultural policy is cyclical: the Cultural Policy (Specific Purpose Funding) Act states that the cultural policy must be renewed every four years. The policy is adopted as part of the subsidy planning system. The process is evaluated at the end of each cycle. The policy itself is continuously monitored. Once a year, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science publishes Cultuur in Beeld (Culture in Figures) which contains the relevant figures from and over the cultural sector. Specific programmes are always individually monitored and evaluated.

All in all, this process results in an intricate, varied and high-quality cultural offering which in principle provides everyone in the Netherlands with the opportunity to participate in culture either as a practitioner or as a spectator.

Although the Act states that the policy has to be renewed every four years, there is a high degree of continuity in practice. Recent budget cuts have not changed this. Participation and education, innovation and talent development, entrepreneurship and internationalisation have long been predominant priority areas. The make-up of the basic national infrastructure is fairly constant and has not undergone significant fluctuations over the years. However, the emphasis in current policy is becoming focused, principally in the area of participation and entrepreneurship.

The current national priority areas for the period 2013-2016 are:

  • cultural participation and education;
  • innovation and talent development;
  • philanthropy and entrepreneurship;
  • internationalisation.