The government has earmarked an extra €300m to support the cultural sector, on top of the support package which employers in the sector can use to compensate workers for shorter hours and freelancers to apply for benefits.
The money will be spent on what culture minister Ingrid Engelshoven called the ‘crucial cultural institutions’, such as the Rijkmuseum, the Nationaal Ballet and the International Theatre.
Part of the money will be divided between six funds which will support ‘a limited number of museums, theatres and festivals which play a crucial role in their region’ provided local and provincial authorities also contribute, the minister said in a statement. Sustaining the cultural infrastructure will generate work for freelancers as well once the crisis is over, she said.
In the last week, Van Engelshoven had been bombarded by letters from cultural organisations who, according to their own calculations, face almost a billion euros in lost revenue by June 1. The minister said during an interview on M she had felt ‘under attack’ but pointed out the culture sector is the first to be considered for extra help.
The amount drew criticism from Esther Ouwehand (PvdD) who compared it to the €600m set aside to tide the flower industry over. ‘Twice as much’ she said on Twitter.
Jan Zoet, spokesman for arts organisation Kunsten 92 said he doubted the amount will be sufficient. ‘It’s a welcome package until the summer but what is on the horizon? If this is it, it’s not enough,’he told the Volkskrant. ‘And let’s be clear that the 160,000 freelance workers in our sector are not going to benefit. They will be relying on benefits,’ he added.
Others point out that independent theatres and museums are not covered. ‘The money is too limited and focused on subsidised institutions. We mustn’t forget the freelancers, the technicians behind the scenes and other creatives,’ GroenLinks MP Niels van den Berge told the paper.
Independent companies, which represent 70% of theatre performances, can apply for loans via the Culture and Entrepreneurship fund, the minister said.
Boris van der Ham, chairman of the association of independent theatre companies said that meant the minister ‘did not understand how this part of the theatre world works. ‘The fund only provides loans of up to €100,000. That won’t go far if you are doing a musical in the big theatres.’
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