The roles of various tiers of government in the funding of culture

Diverse layers of government
Key objectives of the measure:

National cultural policy is implemented roughly along three lines:

- The basic national infrastructure consisting of 92 (in 2017) institutions which are directly funded by the government based on the criteria that they have a specific function in national arts and culture or play a key role in regional and urban cultural infrastructure.

- Six cultural funds for the performing arts, film, visual arts, literature, the creative industry and cultural participation respectively, which support initiatives in the different sectors on project basis or in two-year cycles. The Minister is responsible for the policy and the working methods of the funds, while the responsibility for the funding decisions rests with the cultural funds themselves. These are the Creative Industries Fund, Performing Arts Fund, Dutch Literary Fund, Mondriaan Fund, Netherlands Film Fund and Cultural Participation Fund.

- Policy programmes: a number of programmes are based on cooperation with other ministries including the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, with other tiers of government (provinces and municipalities) and/or with other parties in the public and private sectors.

Cooperation between national government and other tiers of government, the provinces and municipalities, deserves special attention as each tier is autonomous in pursuing its own cultural policy. Together, the three tiers of government are able to provide a robust and wide-ranging level of cultural facilities.

Scope of the measure:
Nature of the measure:
Main feature of the measure:

The Minister’s responsibility is confined to the main points of cultural policy. The “Thorbecke principle”[1] states that governments should refrain from making an artistic judgement on cultural expressions. For this judgement, the Minister relies on the Council for Culture [Raad voor Cultuur], the body that advises government and parliament on all (substantive) matters concerning culture and media policy. In accordance with the Cultural Policy (Special Purpose Funding) Act, the Dutch government makes a financial contribution to a wide-ranging and varied cultural offering for all citizens and in all parts of the country by funding institutions and establishing policy programmes.

For this reason, the basis of cultural policy in the Netherlands is in accordance with the principles and objectives of the Convention.


[1] As chairman of the Constitutional Committee, the statesman Johan Rudolph Thorbecke (1798 – 1872) laid the foundations of the Dutch state in 1848. He led three governments as prime minister. Best known from this period is Thorbecke’s statement about the government’s position with regard to art: “Art is not the business of government as the government cannot judge art, nor yet control it”. What Thorbecke meant by this was that he, as a person, was indeed interested in art but that the government was no judge of science or art.

Results expected through the implementation of the measure:

a diverse and suitable cultural policy

Financial resources allocated to implement the measure:


Goal(s) of UNESCO's 2005 Convention
Cultural Domain(s)