Council for Culture: 477 million Euros needed to strengthen the cultural sector

The Raad voor Cultuur has written a letter to Herman Tjeenk Willink, the Minister of State who is currently pre-investigating a new cabinet formation. In its letter, the Dutch Council for Culture states that an additional 477 million Euros a year is needed to strengthen the cultural sector and provide culture to every Dutch citizen. 

The number is based on the Council’s combined policy advice over the past cabinet period. According to the Council’s calculations, 477 million Euros is the minimum investment it will take to bring funding in line with the economic and social yield that culture brings. ‘A strong cultural sector is an important booster for the economy and for society,’ the Council writes in its letter. The Council stresses that the government currently spends 1 billion Euros a year, or 0.3 % of its total budget, on culture, whereas the economic yield of the cultural sector amounts to up to 25.5 million Euros, or 3.7 % of the total national income. In terms of employment the sector represents 4.5 % of workers, which places it on a level with the construction sector and makes it twice as big as the agricultural sector. 

The push for major investments comes now, the Council explains, because arts and culture offer a positive contribution to people’s mental health and wellbeing. They are an important factor in society’s recovery from the pandemic. The considerable cuts that have been made to the sector over the past decade have led to a number of major bottlenecks that are impeding the sector’s potential and that are depriving people across the country of access to cultural experiences and activities. 

Of the additional 477 million Euros, 285 million should be spent on broadening the range of cultural genres and disciplines, ensuring an even geographical spread across all the regions in the country and fair pay for workers within the sector; 95 million Euros should be invested in public libraries; 70 million Euros in the media, and 27 million Euros in cultural heritage. These are the amounts that the Council says should be structurally added to the annual government budget. Another 83 million Euros is needed in one-off investments: the money should go to digitization, to the revolving production fund for commercial producers, and to the national fund for the conservation of national heritage sites, part of which was used to admit a fourth dance institution (Scapino Ballet) to the Culturele Basisinfrastructuur (BIS) in 2021-2024.