International cultural policy

The Dutch government wants to strengthen international cultural exchange and cooperation, since it helps us connect with other cultures, enhances mutual understanding and nurtures us with new influences and images. In the same way, the work and subjects of Dutch artists and cultural institutions are a source of inspiration and knowledge in other countries. They showcase what the Netherlands is about. Dutch cultural creators, painters, heritage sites and design tell a familiar story. The Netherlands is a country with an open outlook, keen to engage in partnerships and find innovative solutions. Culture also serves Dutch political and economic interests.

Role of the Dutch government

Many international cultural partnerships take shape without government intervention. However, when opportunities exist but are not used to the full, the government can remove obstacles and provide support. For instance, by helping cultural creators abroad. And by providing grants for projects that bring people together in the cultural domain.

Aims of international cultural policy 2021-2024

There are three aims for the coming years:

  • to build a strong foundation abroad through visibility, exchange and long-term partnerships;
  • to strengthen bilateral relations;
  • to apply the strengths of the cultural sector and creative industries as we work towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The International Cultural Policy Framework 2021-2024 sets out these aims for international cultural exchange and cooperation in detail. The framework incorporates recommendations from the Council for Culture, the Policy and Operations Evaluation Department and policymakers in the Netherlands and abroad, including the Dutch cultural sector and our missions.

Principles of international cultural policy 2021-2024

International cultural policy 2021-2024 is based on the following principles.

  • International cooperation and exchange enhance the quality of the Dutch cultural sector. And that is beneficial for our well-being and our reputation.
  • The creative and cultural sector plays an important role in the Dutch economy. International cooperation also contributes to our prosperity.
  • Culture enhances the Netherlands’ image in the eyes of its bilateral partners. It also brings opportunities for promoting mutual understanding and trust.
  • International cooperation around cultural heritage can help us address social issues in the Netherlands and abroad. It is also in line with the government’s aim to increase knowledge of our shared history, values and freedoms.
  • We remain committed to the principle of subsidiarity where the role of Europe is concerned. At the same time, we recognise that the European cultural agenda is very beneficial for the Netherlands’ own cultural sector and for our cooperative activities.
  • Freedom of speech includes freedom of cultural expression. This principle deserves international recognition and protection in its own right.
  • We use the power of culture – and the power of our creative industries in particular – to help achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs). This is especially the case in our focus regions for development cooperation.
  • We adopt a broad, strategic approach that allows for flexibility and tailor-made solutions.
  • We aim for constructive collaborations in which each implementing party has a clearly defined role based on its expertise with particular countries.

Funding for international cultural policy 2021-2024

The government has earmarked €22.5 million a year for implementing its international cultural policy. This money is allocated to various central government culture funds, cultural institutions, international cultural programmes and cultural diplomacy activities.

Players in the international cultural policy landscape

International cultural policy involves a variety of players from the cultural sector, besides central government cultural funds, embassies and consulates, and ministries. Where and how they operate depends on the knowledge required, the aim and the location. Most projects are run in partnership with local parties.

Cultural funds:

  • Creative Industries Fund NL
  • Netherlands Film Fund
  • Mondriaan Fund
  • Dutch Foundation for Literature
  • Performing Arts Fund NL
  • Cultural Participation Fund

Other institutions:

  • Cultural Heritage Agency 
  • DutchCulture Centre for International Cooperation
  • Prince Claus Fund
  • National Archives
  • Dutch Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage
  • Nieuwe Instituut
  • Eye Filmmuseum