Performing arts subsidies: out with the old, in with the new


The Dutch performing arts fund has divided up some €21m in subsidies for the next four years but dozens of music and theatre companies have missed the boat and may not survive, the Volkskrant reports.

Of the 149 companies whose plans were approved, only 78 will benefit from a subsidy in the next four years.

The fund has rewarded 33 newcomers, signalling ‘the end of an era’ for number of theatre companies, such as Maatschappij Discordia and Dood Paard, which flourished in the 1990s, the paper said.

Well-known names from the world of improvised music, jazz and pop also failed to secure state funding, including the Instant Composers Pool, established in 1967 and the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw. With visitor numbers severely limited by the coronavirus crisis the loss of subsidies is likely to spell the end for many.

Among the new recipients are younger and more culturally diverse theatre companies such as Rose Stories who, the jury said, ‘uses the power of stories to promote a more inclusive society’.

The subsidy round follows the earlier divvying up of BIS money, which supports the cultural infrastructure, by the Arts Council.

In the event, the Scapino ballet, which was left off the list, was saved from going under by MPs but it is doubtful if the same will happen again, the paper said, because it would mean discussing the merits of each case separately instead of upping the budget as a whole.

‘That is a political choice and I hope it will be a considered one,’ performing arts fund director Henriëtte Post told the paper.


Post said allocating the subsidies is ‘a terrible dilemma’. ‘We are not blind and we see how difficult life is for the performing arts is at the moment. I think some will say we did well because venues will disappear or won’t be able to accommodate many visitors in the next 18 months.

‘At the same time, the assumption that this will continue for 18 months is just as shaky as the arrival of a vaccine in three months’ time. To leave the list as was would mean that in three months’s time we would be left with an emptier and a far less colourful cultural landscape.’

Cultural festivals fared better, the paper said, with all applicants receiving a slice of the available €6m. The Roadburn festival, a four-day rock event in Tilburg, was included for the first time.


The Amsterdam fund for the arts AFK also announced its list for the next four years. Theatre companies in particular lost out, the Parool said. The fund should by rights fund all approved applicants but is facing a budget deficit of €6.6m, director Annabelle Birnie told the paper.

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