482 million Euros support package for culture

Ingrid van Engelshoven, the Minister of Culture, Education and Science, has announced a second support package for the arts worth 482 million Euros to help with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. In April the minister announced an initial 300 million Euros to support the arts, which was mainly geared towards the bigger arts institutions. The additional 482 million is meant to aid companies, venues, artists and cultural entrepreneurs.

EUR 200 million in the second support package has been earmarked for the performing arts in general: theatre companies and institutions and the artists who are part of these organizations. EUR 150 million will go to local support: municipalities and provincial governments, who have applied to the Minister saying there wasn’t enough support for the region, are to allocate these funds to the venues in their respective regions. This is an additional sum that is made available on top of the EUR 68 million invested by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations to compensate local governments for the damage done by Covid-19. 

Private museums and art collections that are of national importance will be supported with EUR 20 million, and EUR 15 million will go to naval heritage. Another EUR 15 million is earmarked for film productions and to set up pilots for new productions. EUR 14 million has been made available to aid theatre companies that will lose their structural funding from 2021. This budget enables them to bridge the first six months of 2021. 

The minister emphasizes how important culture is for our society. ‘In the ongoing polarized discussions, arts and culture can help people understand each other’s perspective,’ she states in NRC. She also explains that she intends to keep the field structurally intact with the two support packages. 

A day before the announcement of the second support package, the government announced its general measures to aid the corona-stricken Dutch economy. That aid package is worth EUR 11 billion, 220 million of which go to the payment of salaries, the NOW (Noodmaatregel Overbrugging Werkgelegenheid) and the program for freelance entrepreneurs called the TOZO (Tijdelijke Overbruggingsregeling Zelfstandig Ondernemers), which also benefits the arts. This arrangement is open until July 2021. 

In total the support for the arts and workers in the arts is EUR 1.3 billion; that is the sum total of the support package launched in April, the new package in August and the three arrangements for employees and entrepreneurs.

Even though the ministry supports the performing arts with a second support package, many theatre workers, such as technicians and freelance staff, are considering retraining to find employment outside the sector. The minister has said she thinks it is it important to invest in employment, and restated her intention that theatres and venues should remain up and running with a programming budget. 

Over 2,500 people working in the performing arts have signed a pressing letter to the minister, appealing to her to alleviate the FPK’s structural shortage of EUR 15.8 million. If made available, this could save 78 organizations that received a positive advice but zero funding due to the Fund’s curtailed budget. In response, the minister has said a decision will be made on Prinsjesdag (budget day), the third Tuesday in September.