Winnie Sorgdrager: ‘Artists often have to push their boundaries, and that creates a gray area’

Winnie Sorgdrager, Prime Minister and former chair of the Cultural Council, chaired the committee, which issued advice on cross-border behavior in the culture and media sector. The main conclusion: Make cross-border behavior a topic of discussion.

Is cross-border behavior a specific problem for the cultural sector?

‘No, it occurs in all sectors. But the cultural sector is extra vulnerable. In addition to power relations, there is more at stake. Artists often have to push their limits to achieve a particular kind of art. It creates a gray area. ”

If we set rules for it, can one still make art?

“It is a very heard fear; that nothing more is allowed. But it is a phase we have to go through. We do not want to impose severe sanctions, but we want to create discussion. It needs to enter our system to talk more often about cross-border behavior. “In the workplace, the Cultural Council now advises. It is primarily about prevention.”

So the report is not so much about borders, but about how we make borders open to discussion?

“Exactly. We agree that certain actions are not possible. But in a work atmosphere where performance is achieved, one must be able to say, ‘You are not doing a good job.’ In that sense, there is always someone who shows authority over another, and one then takes more than the other.The essay published last week in de Volkskrant appeared about Mai Spijkers, publisher of Prometheus, shows it too. [Een ex-medewerker schreef dat er bij Prometheus een angstcultuur heerst, red.] One may not think it is possible to do what he does, the other works well under that regime. But if someone systematically drills other people into the ground, by the way, it is not acceptable. Then it should be possible to point it out. ”

Drilling someone into the ground has never been acceptable. And it’s hard to complain. Who will report such behavior?

“It is the job of regulators and leaders.”

But does it happen? A prominent regulator last week did not know this advice was coming.

“I do not think it is possible. It is your job to keep track of this. You often hear that the management did not know that something was wrong, because there was never a complaint. But the fact that people do not dare to complain is “We have to create a path that is easy to follow.”

When he applied for the study, former Minister Van Engelshoven urged the committee to pay special attention to art education. It would be the desirable behavior to be taught.

“That’s right. There are several reasons for this. It has become increasingly important that teachers have more didactic competencies that also contribute to a safe climate. We used to think less about a love relationship between teacher and student. We have now realized “that this is not possible due to the balance of power. Education in general is often the first place where people are confronted with power relations, therefore there is a lot to gain from information about this. It should therefore be much more intertwined in the arts.”

The report talks a lot about prevention, to avoid casualties. And when something happens, there are all sorts of ways to deal with it. On the other hand, there is not much focus on the perpetrators. Why?

“When you talk about perpetrators, you quickly talk about action. We do not want to lay down rules on sanctions and measures for perpetrators. In addition, every person should have the opportunity to improve. Of course, there are incidents where it is obvious that a crime has been committed and, for example, termination of the contract is necessary. “

The report almost starts with: ‘The current council has not come without a fight, we want to be transparent about that.’ What does it mean?

“We worked with an interesting committee. They all came from different backgrounds, which created a completely different dynamic than in other committees I have been to. We have long discussed what art and culture are all about. Then it turned out that I was still looking at it with a very western eye. Colored does not yet belong to the core of culture, art and media. We must ensure that they can participate in that sector in the same way. ”

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