Opposition wants €1bn for arts or ‘cultural poverty’ looms

Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photos: Depositphotos.com

Opposition parties PvdA, GroenLinks and SP are asking the government to up financial support for the arts to €1bn, warning society will be the poorer without it both culturally and economically, the AD reports.

PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher said the extra €700m, which comes on top of an earlier package worth €300m, is based on an inventory of needs ‘from the director of the Frans Hals museum to actor Gijs Scholten van Aschat and rapper Ali B’.

Ascher said the €300m was a good start but that culture minister Ingrid van Engelshoven had to make good on her promise that more money would be forthcoming after the first couple of months.

So far Van Engelshoven has not made more money available specifically for the arts but has said the culture sector could apply to the generic emergency help fund. The government also earmarked extra €500m for local councils and provinces which is meant, among other things, to prop up libraries, small film theatres and music schools.

Ascher said unsubsidised theatre companies and museums have been hardest hit because most of €300m is going to flagship museums and cultural institutions. He also refuted the minister’s claim that small, unsubsidised producers could apply to the NOW fund to pay workers’ wages. Some 30,000 people are in trouble, he said, ‘with many not being able to meet basic needs, such as shoes for their children.’

He also called on the minister to scrap the rent for museums. They have been given a rent deferral of three months but, said Asscher, but it’s not as if they can afford to pay that back. And although theatres and museums are now allowed to open, for many that is not a viable option, he said.

Asscher also wants to set up an innovation fund which will allow entrepreneurs in the sector to experiment with new earning models, the paper said.

‘Our society will be the poorer without art and culture. It is also a sector that is important to the economy. (..) If we can support big businesses like KLM we should do the same for culture,’ the paper quotes him as saying.

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