After 1945, the Dutch government started to play an active part in encouraging and funding cultural activities. In doing so, it expressly refrained from making any artistic judgement of the arts and culture as a reaction to the mixing of political and artistic judgement during the years 1940-1945 (WWII). The public funding model for the cultural sector was also constructed after this period.
The 1980s saw the creation of a funding system by national government and larger municipalities organised in four-year Cultural Policy Document periods, to structure the publicly funded culture sector. Together with the other tiers of government (municipalities, provinces, national culture funds, and the Council for Culture), the national government is responsible for a high-quality cultural offering right across the country.
Since 1993, the Cultural Policy Act (BIS - Special Purpose Funding) has been the basis of the Dutch government’s involvement in culture. The diversity of cultural expressions is firmly entrenched in the Act, which states that the Minister is responsible for preserving and developing cultural expressions and disseminating them across social and geographical boundaries or otherwise propagating them.
The ratification of the Convention in 2009 did not require any addition or amendment to existing legislation in the Netherlands . National policy does not refer to the convention as an instrument, but its leading principles are promoted within legislation and policies. The Convention is a reference for ongoing policymaking.
In policymaking, two terms are used regarding diversity in culture: diversity in general is about difference between people, mainly concerning ethnicity, age and gender. Pluriformity concerns the diversity of the cultural offering. Both are considered in governmental policy.
Intangible heritage and immovable heritage are not within the scope of this report, even though they are both included in national policy regarding cultural diversity. The Netherlands national inventory on intangible heritage contains a number of elements from ethnic minorities. National heritage policy in general focuses on accessibility and inclusion.
Minister Jet Bussemaker (Minister of Education, Culture and Science 2013-2017) described her priorities in national policy for the arts and culture in a policy memorandum to the Lower House of Parliament in June 2013. She emphasises the breadth of meaning of the term “culture” and describes the need to balance between the artistic, societal and economic value of culture. The Minister explicitly mentions the role culture can play in a changing society: “culture unites, entertains and helps us resolve issues facing our society.” At approximately the same time the minister also described her priorities concerning museums . In this document, museums were called to reach out to a non-regular public in order to diversify the attendance.
From 2013 to 2016, national culture policies contained the following priorities:
Cultural education and participation in cultural life.
Connecting the cultural sector to other sectors (sports, education, health care, welfare) of society.
After the elections in March 2017, currently a new government is being formed. A new Minister for Education, Culture and Science may set different priorities for the period 2017-2021.