Government shows commitment to culture with major funding drive

The arts and heritage sectors in the Netherlands are to receive major government investment to maintain their high quality, now and in the future. Culture minister Ingrid van Engelshoven has announced plans to spend €80 million each year on culture, and earmarked an additional €325 million over the next few years for heritage and landmarks.

The minister said, 'I want our cultural sector to flourish as never before. We want to enable new generations to break through and encourage children to be enthusiastic about culture from a young age. I also want to invest in heritage sites to enhance the quality of our living and working environment. Our culture deserves a renaissance.'

Scope for new culture and 'culture makers'

In recent years, resources for developing top-quality culture have been limited. Now Ms Van Engelshoven wants to give talented artists greater scope to develop. To this end, a new joint talent programme will be created for cultural funds in the Netherlands.

'The Netherlands has top-quality theatre companies, symphony orchestras and museums, all of which contribute to the rich cultural landscape here,' said the minister. 'They are truly valuable - now and in the future. I also want to give new groups of culture makers the opportunity to claim their place at the top. The new generation will enhance the diversity of our cultural life. It has its own language and narratives, which appeal to today's audiences.'

The cultural sector is working hard at being a good employer, client and entrepreneur, and deserves to be rewarded for its efforts. Therefore, in 2018 the government will be providing further support for the labour market agenda.

Arts and heritage education

'It's vital to engage as many people as possible in culture when they're young - whether making it or enjoying it,' Ms Van Engelshoven explained. Accordingly, she wants to enable all schoolchildren to visit the Rijksmuseum or another museum during school time. The government is also investing in music education so that more pupils can benefit. Currently, over 1,000 schools are taking advantage of the music education grant scheme, which will be expanded to 1,600 schools.

Schools will also be challenged to introduce their pupils to the more provocative and confrontational side of culture. Theatre, films and books for children and young people have a well-established reputation for presenting young audiences with alternative ways of seeing the world. The government is making extra investments in Amsterdam's EYE film museum and youth theatre companies.

Investing in heritage

Over the next few years, the government will make an extra €325 million available for future generations to continue experiencing and enjoying cultural heritage. It will also work to make registered heritage sites more accessible.

The minister commented, 'In a changing environment, monuments, landscapes and historical buildings function like signposts. Heritage shows where we have come from, where we are now and where we are heading. It is important to pass these heritage sites on to future generations.'

The government wants to encourage local residents and associations to take the initiative to submit proposals for preserving and using heritage and making it more accessible in the areas where they live.

It is investing in the restoration and sustainability of major heritage sites, especially churches with a distinctive heritage character. There is funding available to restore and re-purpose listed buildings.

Funding is also being released to improve the digital availability of heritage, archives and collections. This will include digitising design drawings by Dutch architects.

Finally, the government will also top up the National Acquisition Fund, which has been almost empty since the acquisition of Rembrandt's wedding portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit. The extra funding will make it possible once more to purchase artworks of national significance in the future.

Preparing for new infrastructure grants

The year 2021 marks the start of a new grant period for funding basic cultural infrastructure. In response to the exploratory study by the Council for Culture, the government is inviting other levels of government to prepare urban and regional profiles, and to collectively seek advice from the Council for Culture for the new grant period.

With regard to the field of culture and the Council for Culture, the government believes that plans for the future should not be imposed top-down but should reflect strengths and developments from within the field.

Noteworthy investments:

  • In 2018, the government is investing €30 million in the restoration and future-proofing of major heritage sites, including churches. Extra funding will continue to be available over the next few years.
  • In 2018, €30 million will be available for the restoration and re-purposing of national heritage sites through the Revolving Fund Plus.
  • In 2018, the National Acquisition Fund for museums will be topped up with €25 million. Another €25 million will follow over the next few years.
  • The government will make €15 million available for listed heritage in Groningen over the next few years.
  • Talented culture makers will receive support through a new joint programme for the cultural funds. The government will invest €2.7 million in 2018, rising to €4.9 million in 2019 and subsequent years.
  • With an investment of €2.1 million in 2018, the government will enable all schoolchildren to visit the Rijksmuseum or another museum during school time. This funding will be increased to €4.9 million in 2019 and subsequent years.
  • To improve music education in schools, the government will give a one-off investment of €5 million, doubling the total available in the last application round of the grant scheme in this area.
  • The New Institute will receive €5.5 million in 2018 and 2019 to digitise design drawings by Dutch architects.
  • Schools will be challenged to arrange challenging cultural visits for pupils. The government will invest €1.5 million in the coming years in EYE film museum and youth theatre companies.
  • Over the next years, the government will invest €2 million a year in raising the Netherlands' cultural profile abroad.