Priorities of the Netherlands’ international cultural policy

The Dutch government’s international cultural policy has three objectives. All three these have a special focus on the creative industries and shared cultural heritage.

Objective 1: a stronger Dutch culture sector

International cultural exchanges nurture us with new influences and images. Dutch art and culture help to enhance the Netherlands’ profile. A strong culture sector also creates jobs, for instance through co‑produced films, translations of books by Dutch authors, and making the Dutch East India Company (VOC) archives accessible in various countries.

Objective 2: more room for the arts to contribute to a safe, just and future-proof world

Culture reflects values such as tolerance, cultural diversity and freedom of expression. In the countries bordering the European Union the Netherlands uses culture to help boost social renewal and cohesion. The activities serve to strengthen ties, enhance trust and improve communication between the Netherlands and these countries.

Objective 3: cultural diplomacy

The third objective deploys culture in diplomacy as a strategic tool for enhancing positive relations between the Netherlands and other countries. The Netherlands’ diplomatic network consists of embassies and consulates. They have local cultural networks and contacts with government and the business community. Cultural diplomacy supports dialogue, for instance on human rights and gender equality. It also helps to boost Dutch economic interests and the Netherlands’ image abroad. Performances by leading Dutch institutions are an excellent way to showcase the Netherlands.

Priority countries for Dutch cultural policy

Dutch artists are active in many countries. The Dutch government has prioritised the following countries under Objective 1:

  • Belgium (Flanders)
  • Brazil
  • China
  • France
  • Germany
  • Indonesia
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Spain
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Türkiye
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

The Dutch government has prioritised the following countries under Objective 2:

  • Egypt
  • Morocco
  • Russia
  • Turkey

Creative industries

Dutch creative industries are among the best in the world and one of the Netherlands’ nine leading economic sectors. Through its top sectors policy, the government aims to consolidate their international market position. The creative industry includes the art and heritage sector, media and entertainment, and creative business services.

Through their international programmes the Creative Industries Fund NL and Het Nieuwe Instituut strengthen the position of the Dutch creative industries abroad. The programmes cover a range of subjects, including:

  • architecture
  • design (including fashion)
  • new media
  • gaming.

More information can be found on the websites of:

  • the Creative Industries Fund NL grant programme for internationalisation
  • the international programme of Het Nieuwe Instituut.

Shared Cultural Heritage

Shared Cultural Heritage occupies a special place in the Netherlands’ international cultural policy. The Netherlands shares its history with many countries around the world. The tangible and intangible traces of that past, both in the Netherlands and abroad, are referred to as shared cultural heritage. Archives all over the world contain a wealth of knowledge about our country. Marine archaeology, too, provides a great deal of information about the past. The government is seeking to conserve this shared heritage by:

  • encouraging partnerships between Dutch and foreign institutions;
  • exchanging experts and knowledge;
  • supporting foreign initiatives;
  • arousing interest in shared heritage.

The Netherlands supports activities in:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Suriname
  • the United States

More information about the Shared Cultural Heritage Programme is available on the website of the central government Cultural Heritage Agency.

Progress report

The 2017 progress report on international cultural policy contains an overview of projects and results for each objective, with concrete examples.