‘Dissolution of Rotterdam’s Arts and Culture Council has already been decided’

According to a critical report from the consulting firm Rijnconsult, the council wants to dissolve the Rotterdam Council for Art and Culture, the city council’s advisory body, from 1 January 2023. RRKC’s recommendations are “ineffective” and hardly known in the cultural sector, the researchers write. In addition, they note that the relationship with culture rapporteur Said Kasmi (D66) and officials is bad. RRKC President Carlos Goncalves is stunned.

What else does RRKC add?

“We put questions in the cultural sector on the political agenda. Recently, for example, we issued a Social Security Council [racisme, discriminatie, seksuele intimidatie]† We pointed out that the sector is sensitive to this. Then it’s up to the politicians to do something about it. We also hold up a mirror for the municipality. And we act as a source of information for the cultural sector. RKS [Rotterdamse Kunststichting] has existed since 1946, so we have an enormous amount of knowledge in the house, and we share it with institutions and decision-makers. ”

Also read this article: Rotterdam ends the art council RRKC

Most of the criticisms in the evaluation report relate to the poor relationship between RRKC and the cultural advisor. How is your relationship with Kasmi?

“There is always some tension between an independent advisory body and the board. That’s part of it. I have a good relationship with Kasmi herself. We have known each other for a long time. When I was appointed chairman of the RRKC in December, I started a conversation with him. It was an opportunity for a new, better relationship. But it must come from both sides. Kasmi kept returning to two situations where things had gone wrong. One of these is a council on Rotterdam’s cultural base [acht grootste gesubsidieerde culturele instellingen]† We also sent it to the city council. Because we are only advisors to the college, that was not the intention. We have apologized for that.

“On the other hand, the municipality has also made mistakes. For example, we were given several times less time than agreed when the municipality asked us for advice. And in a conversation, Kasmi promised that a decision would only be made about RRKC in a new term of office, which he does not keep. “

Should the RRKC have been more politically sensitive?

“Maybe. My appointment as chairman was a first step. I have a lot of experience in politics [hij was deelraadsvoorzitter van Delfshaven en raadslid voor de PvdA]† I have managed to start improving the proportions. We wanted to pay more attention to each other. But I have the idea that without knowing it, I myself have entered into a process whose outcome was already determined: the dissolution of the RRKC. ”

As an example, researchers mention your advice on ‘culture and corona’, while the councilor had already set up a think tank for this. Why did you do double work?

“Corona is the most drastic event for the cultural sector in the last fifty years. So you have as a council an advisory body for this sector and you pass it by convening a think tank? It’s your right, but strange. We had already gone in once with the councils and informed the councilor. Then he said: ‘Do not do it, I already have another plan.’ Why has he not communicated it before? In the end, we cooperated with the think tank and we decided in consultation to each issue our own advice. Our plan was there before. “

What does it say that more than a week before the presentation of a new lecture, the RRKC is still being dissolved?

“I do not understand that. Kasmi has said: ‘I will not take a decision on the RRKC until there is a new lecture’. And we would have the opportunity to comment on the evaluation report. [RRKC stuurde wél een eerste reactie met de boodschap ‘wij willen door’]† We are two adult directors who make agreements about this, and then he easily overrides it. ”

Also read this article from November 2020: Rotterdam politicians want research after harsh criticism of the local arts and culture council

The relationship with the researchers was bad. In the report, they state that there was a lot of pressure from the RRKC and that the “limit of decency” may have been exceeded.

‘I have the impression that the report is mainly intended to discredit the RRKC. There is a different method than other years. A committee was then set up as the main person responsible for evaluating and monitoring it. The college and the institutions were also evaluated at the time. The mayor did not find it necessary. I have a bad feeling about that. The report accused us of trying too hard to fight for our very existence. Which institution does not? We would no longer be of this time either, but why? So what fits? ”

What are the consequences for the cultural sector if RRKC disappears?

“We are a club that puts a lot of time and energy into the sector of love for the city. As a government, you have to deal with this in a different way. This is an example of a government that is increasingly power play do. What will soon disappear is the opportunity to put issues on the agenda, to think critically about the future. ”

What now?

“The dissolution of RRKC is a competence for the board. We will come up with an answer. We will send it to the municipality at the end of next week. Anything can happen in politics. Maybe the municipality will find something about this or the sector.”

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