From now on, we will enforce art diversity with subsidies

From now on, we will enforce art diversity with subsidies

Theresa G. Burroughs / October 26, 2018

Good employership at subsidised institutions and artist’s fees are the subject of discussion in the annual Paradiso debate this week. Important topics. The debate about art and culture will increase, and that is a good thing.

For us, the six national cultural funds and the Dutch Unesco Commission, it is clear and inescapable by extension: an inclusive cultural sector, diversity of makers and audience and pluralism of expressions have top priority in the period ahead.

Yes, we have worked on this over the past twenty years. And yes, that has yielded great things. But we don’t think it’s enough. It is time for non-free breakthroughs. Resources really must be made available to broader groups. Many more and different people must be able to find theatre and concert halls and museums. Diversity in the broadest sense of the word becomes self-evident if it is up to us, both on stage and behind the scenes. Because that fits today’s society and also because we have made international agreements about it. We sometimes forget it, but the Netherlands has also entered into commitments in a Unesco convention on the diversity and pluriformity of cultural expressions.

We sometimes see with regret how the polarised social and political debate, with its increasingly heavy emphasis on identity, is pigeonholing people rather than liberating them from them. We see and experience how oppressive that box is for artists. For writers, visual artists, theatre makers, designers, filmmakers. That has to change. Together we will undertake the following actions in the coming period:

1. We give the stories that are not heard now a stage. We make budget available to find and support these stories: by making them visible, by bringing them from the regional to the national stage. We make sure that makers know where to go with their stories. That they do not remain in a small circle while earning a larger one. We will also assess applications for subsidies in terms of representativeness, target group and theme. We have a network of breeding grounds, labs, hubs, festivals and matchmakers in the region and join forces in the search for new stories.

2. Young people are experts in diversity, and show the power of diversity. They have new networks, discover new genres, access their information in different ways – through apps and social media. The innovative power of young people – who have always been there – embraces the changing composition of society. In our role of giving space to talent and innovation, we not only stimulate the further development of established talent, but also that of beginning makers.

3. In our own organisations and advisory networks. After all, if we are an inclusive and diverse organisation ourselves, there will be more pluralism in the stories that come up and in. We use concrete goals in the recruitment policy of personnel and for the composition of our network of consultants. We assess consultants, committees and staff on their experience with diversity. And we make cultural sensitivity a topic of discussion during performance interviews.

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