Recovery of the cultural sector after the pandemic

In collaboration with the Creative Coalition, Platform BK, is busy talking to policymakers and policy advisors in The Hague about the recovery of the culture sector after the pandemic. Read about our lobby activities below. 


In conversation with the Dutch Council for Culture

At the end of May, the Raad voor Cultuur (Dutch Council for Culture)  published the new advisory report-‘Beweging in het Bestel (exploration on the way to a new advisory report on the cultural system) – for the Ministry of Culture about the new culture plan that must take effect from 2024. The main advice of the RvC is that the current period must be extended:  More time is needed to come to a new interpretation of the system and institutions need more time to recover after the pandemic. Co-director Sepp Eckenhaussen, together with board members of the Creative Coalition and lobbyists from the Kunstenbond, talked to the RVC. 

What was discussed, among other things: 

The labour market agenda – the step-by-step plan for improving the labour market position of those working in the cultural sector – must be given priority NOW, because its implementation cannot and should not be postponed. The publication speaks too euphemistically about the problems in the labour market (“must be fairer and more robust”). However, the perception is that the labour market is broken (because of excessive flex, a lot of false self-employment and therefore no fair pay, no fair contracts, and imbalances in relationships which also lead to insecurity in many work situations). 

Implement options to enforce fair pay on employers, demonstrate compliance, and enforce. Our message is: that the continued recognition of the non-committal (also in the report) undermines the Fair Practice Code. 

– In the next cultural plan, put the workers much more center stage: Make sure that policy development is not about the makers, but with the makers. Make sure that subsidies do not only work through the institutions and with a ‘trickle down’ idea, but use the experiences of ‘trickle up’ systems, such as the National Stage Plan, Pictoright Support Fund, or the Covid bridging schemes of the Mondriaan Fonds. Working people need low-threshold, flexible, and inclusive subsidy options in the form of stipends or project subsidies. 


Outline letter Culture 2022

Other important news is the publication of the Hoofdlijnenbrief cultuur 2022: ‘Recovery, renewal and growth’ by State Secretary Uslu. The letter reads like a transitional letter: it contains traces of recovery that were already announced by Minister Van Engelshoven, choices that the new State Secretary will make for young people and starting makers, and a preliminary announcement of policy for 2023 and beyond. Read the outline hoofdlijnenbrief cultuur 2022 here, as well as the article “Who benefits from the extra culture money?” and the response of the Kunstenbond to the outline letter: “Too little attention for fair payment in new OC&W plans” We praise the new State Secretary’s decisiveness, but the plans she presents in the letter are not concrete enough to solve the plans on the labor market.

In the weeks leading up to the presentation of the outline letter, co-director Koen Bartijn traveled to The Hague with the Creative Coalition for a meeting with Jorien Wuite – spokesperson for art and culture for D66 – to share our proposals for the new recovery plan for the cultural sector. Our message was that this plan should include more actions for Trickle Up: more project subsidies and stipends for artists and other cultural workers, so that we have more means to overcome the blow of the pandemic and structurally improve our position. Some of this input has been included in Uslu’s plans, in the form of more resources for young makers. In our view, however, this is not enough. During Prinsjesdag (the third Tuesday of September, when the Government will present the new policy plans and budget for 2023) Uslu will present new plans for the recovery of the labour market. In the coming period, we will continue to press for more rules and agreements that will make Fair Pay compulsory at institutions and more subsidy options for those working in the sector.


Committee debate Hoofdlijnenbrief cultuur 2022

Following this letter, on 15 June, the committee debate in the Chamber of Parlement on the hoofdlijnenbrief 2022 – herstel, vernieuwing en groei – took place. This debate was rather disconcerting. There were many questions regarding the outline letter 2022 and the supplementary stand van zakenbrief, but few answers were given; the State Secretary of Arts and Culture could not find an answer. This state of affairs letter also stated that the decision on extending the culture programme had been postponed.

Many parties had taken up our letter and input and incorporated it into their contribution to the debate. The core message we conveyed to the Chamber and the Cabinet was that without a sharper focus on the labour market and fair practice, there will be no recovery, growth or renewal. Critical questions were asked about the labour market pilots and fair practice.

“I wouldn’t look back the debate” was the friendly comment by MP Peter Kwint (SP). Due to agenda problems (the hall was no longer available), there will be a second chance. The debate was interrupted and will be continued shortly (probably next week). Letters and written responses to the debate will also follow. And finally, a conclusion with motions and votes. All this before the summer recess, because the Chamber feels the urgency: we cannot keep putting everything off.

Co-director Koen Bartijn visiting the Dutch Parliament for a discussion on the recovery plan of the cultural sector 2022

About De Creatieve Coalitie