VVD wants to call time on subsidies for popular music

VVD MP Arno Rutte in off-duty mode. Photo: Arno Rutte via Twitter

He who pays the piper calls the tune, but if VVD MP Arno Rutte has his way, the government will no longer foot the bill for touring pop musicians after this year.

Rutte, who in his spare time sings with spoof rockabilly band Harige Harry & The Ladyshavers, said he wanted to cut subsidies for pop music in the next budget. ‘If you can’t live from your work, you’re not a pop musician,’ he told a debate on culture in parliament.

In the MPs’ register of outside interests in 2014 Rutte declared earnings of around €300 a year from his musical performances.

Opposition politicians defended the subsidies as a lifeline for bands starting out on their careers. ‘Pop music isn’t just Kane and Kensington,’ said Socialist MP Peter Kwint.

Rutte said he was prepared to consider funding for ‘infrastructure’ to help rising musicians, but ‘we no longer want to see direct and substantial subsidies for pop music.’

Rutte tabled a motion in 2014 to scrap government funding for popular music, but only managed to secure the backing of his own party, the PVV and the SGP.