An increasing number of municipalities have less money available for basic cultural facilities such as the library, amateur association or cultural center. The Council for Culture warns about the consequences of this and advocates more investment in local and regional culture.
Culture brings people together and that often starts in the own municipality. But then there must be a basic offer, writes the Council for Culture, the government’s legal advisory body for art, culture and media. ‘If there are not enough resources for basic facilities, this will have consequences for the well-being and coexistence of residents. It also makes a municipality less attractive as a business location.’ That is why, precisely with a view to the municipal elections, the council is now issuing a cry from the heart: ‘Bring the cultural base in order for everyone, in every municipality, everywhere in the Netherlands.’
‘Invest in local cultural ecosystem’
The government plans to make an extra EUR 170 million structurally available every year for culture, heritage and media. Additional investments will only bear fruit if municipalities and provinces continue to commit themselves to strengthening their cultural ecosystem and choose to invest in it in the coming period, the council writes in the document De Culturele Basis op Orde (PDF). In many smaller municipalities, basic cultural facilities have (partly) disappeared. In a number of municipalities, for example, the library is in order, but again there is a lack of music associations or a local media supply. ‘This jeopardizes the minimum basic level of facilities and thus the connecting value of culture for society.’
‘Municipalities and provinces can make the difference’
According to the council, there are a number of areas in which every municipality, alone or in collaboration with neighboring municipalities, can invest. Think of amateur art, cultural education, libraries, local media and heritage. ‘These facilities have been under pressure for some time, and the corona crisis has further reduced the effectiveness of municipalities. At the same time, it is precisely here that the connection is created in society. These are places where people come together to share stories, visions, concerns and experiences, develop creatively or artistically, deepen their knowledge and enrich themselves as a community. Here it is the municipalities and provinces, and only then the central government, that can make the difference between cultural drought and a fertile breeding ground for fun, in-depth and debate.’
Municipal investment agenda
Incidentally, the Council does not make any concrete recommendations about the level of the recommended investments. It is not up to the advisory body to calculate what amounts individual municipalities should allocate for culture. The Council does, however, identify a number of priorities for culture and media policy that are relevant to each municipality. Municipalities that want to get started can use the investment agenda in the document to see where meaningful cultural spending can be started.