Art Academies Acknowledge Urgency to Change

Platform BK and Kunstenbond were invited by SAC KUO, the official meeting of the management of Dutch art academies, to talk about the professional futures of their students.


In December of 2021, we published an open letter calling on art academies to better prepare their students for the unruly labor market. We got hundreds of reactions from students and teachers. The letter was re-published in Het Parool and Mister Motley. Its claim was discussed on national radio, and the Kunst & Bondcast made an episode about it. Last Friday, we finally had the chance to also discuss the urgent matter with the management teams of the art academies.

Thanks to a reminder by Kunstenbond (The Arts Union), Sepp Eckenhaussen (Platform BK) and Karin Boelhouwer (Kunstenbond) were invited by SAC KUO, the official plenary meeting of art education within the Association of Universities of Applied Science, to attend their meeting on the 10th of June 2022. We had a nice conversation, in which the directors acknowledged the vulnerability of the professional practice of their graduates.

The problematic situation in the labor market was known to everyone present. The fact that graduates do not feel well equipped was also recognized (this point is also mentioned in the Sector Agenda 2021-2025). However, there is a lack of ways to implement this insight as a curriculum innovation in the education system itself. In the near future, Platform BK and the Kunstenbond will be included as discussion partners in the process that must lead to real change in education. We will be invited to the upcoming KUO conference and the Network OBK (the national assembly of visual and fine arts education) will involve us in the development of their new professional profiles. The SAC KUO also puts our letter on the agenda of their various discipline-based networks, so that specific policy measures can be examined for each discipline.

Finally, there was widespread recognition among the directors that sustainable arts education can only exist on the basis of a fair and safe learning and working environment. Therefore, work is underway to improve contract practices, aiming for 80% permanent contracts. At some academies, things are improving, but progress varies significantly from one academy to another. For Platform BK this remains a major point of attention, which we will continue to monitor.

About Sepp Eckenhaussen

Sepp Eckenhaussen is a researcher at the Institute of Network Cultures. From 2020 until 2023, he and Koen Bartijn were the core team of Platform BK.