Cultural education and participation
Culture shapes our world and our personal development. Our language and our culture reveal where we come from and who we are. Culture represents not only ties, identity and tradition but also dynamism, creativity and innovation. That is why the Dutch government believes it is important that as many people as possible should have access to culture as creators or consumers. This involves all cultural expressions, not only traditional forms but also modern forms such as pop music, gaming and design. Government policy runs along two lines: cultural education in the education system and cultural participation.
Besides the cultural behaviour of their parents, children and young people also need cultural education to come into contact with culture. The government wants all children and young people to be introduced to culture in the course of their formal education and to be given the opportunity to develop their talents in this area, as creators or consumers, on a professional or amateur basis. This requires cultural education to be firmly entrenched in primary and secondary education and more attention to be paid to cultural education in cultural organisations. The government is mainly focusing on education and the cultural organisations that it funds directly. The main policy concerns in this regard are the quality of cultural education, the expertise of teachers and cooperation between schools and cultural organisations. Dutch policy on cultural education is well regarded internationally18, but if this position is to be maintained, attention needs to be focused on the quality of education and coordination between the cultural infrastructure and the cultural education provided in the educational system needs to be improved.
About one half of the Dutch population above the age of six (approx. 7.5 million people) practise some form of art in their leisure time, from music and the visual arts to new media. One third of that group does so in an organised manner. Amateur artists are also an interesting group among the public.
Priorities and specific measures
Cultural education and participation have a long history in Dutch cultural policy. There is a high degree of continuity. Policy changes usually relate to specific aspects of policy or the range of instruments available.
a) Improving the quality of cultural education 2013 - 2016
In the education system, the emphasis is on improving the quality of cultural education and the following measures have been taken:
- The development of a continuous learning pathway for cultural education in primary schools. This learning pathway describes the characteristics of what good cultural education in schools involves and how cultural organisations can contribute to it.
- The professional development of teachers in the area of cultural education is being encouraged in consultation with the umbrella organisation for primary schools, the Primary Education Council [PO-Raad]. For the period 2013–2016, USD 4.6 million per annum has been earmarked for the development and dissemination of best practices, research results and guidelines for schools, teachers and organisations.23 The Cultural Participation Fund is jointly responsible for implementation with the Research Institute for Cultural Education and Amateur Art.
- Financial support is provided for primary schools to enable them “to boost the internal cohesion and quality of cultural education”. The sum of USD 23 million was set aside for four years with effect from academic year 2012/13.
b) Culture card for secondary schools
All students in secondary education during the period 2008-2012 received a “Culture Card”. This electronic card, which can also be used as a discount card, had USD 21 dollars of credit. Almost 100% of secondary schools and students used the Culture Card during the period 2008-2012. The total cost to the government was USD 21.3 million per annum. The present government intends to retain the Culture Card and will put forward plans by summer 2013. A temporary solution has been chosen for academic year 2012-2013.
c) Cooperation between schools and cultura
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is responsible for cultural education in the education system. The Cultural Participation Fund supports a number of national organisations and events involving amateur art and implements a number of complementary programmes, e.g. to encourage children to play music and to promote cooperation between professionals and amateurs. To support the education and amateur art sectors, government funds a research institute for cultural education and amateur art (budget 2013 - 2016: USD 6.1 million).