Digital transformation of the cultural sector a great opportunity for the Netherlands

Further digitization of the cultural and creative sector provides opportunities for creative innovation and to reach more people and inspire them culturally. It also contributes to the sector’s social relevance and economic empowerment. But there is also a great opportunity for the Netherlands to lead the way as a creative hub in Europe. Now is the time to invest in a multi-year strategic digitization agenda for culture. This appears from advice from the Cultural Council to the government, provinces, municipalities, cultural foundations and the cultural and creative sector. The advice will be presented from 11 am today during an online symposium with, among others, Kristel Baele and Ilona Haaijer.

the right time

Digital cultural offerings are developing into an increasingly valuable addition to cultural and creative practice. The Netherlands has a solid digital infrastructure and an innovative technology sector, which provides a strong starting point for the further digital transformation of the cultural and creative sector. This transformation has already started in part due to increased technological capabilities. She was accelerated during the corona crisis. Now is the right time to invest further and not let the acquired knowledge go to waste.

Challenges

A number of challenges still need to be overcome for this. For example, fragmentation within the sector sometimes hinders the necessary collaboration, meaning that the digital wheel has to be reinvented more than once. The grant instruments of the state, foundations and municipalities are also not sufficiently focused on digital creation and production. For example, the digital reach of cultural offerings is not always included in the performance rationale for grant flows. The council also points to the need for greater investment in digital production and distribution of cultural offerings.

Collaboration Labs and Hubs

The Council advises the Cabinet to focus on the cooperation between the cultural and creative sector and other domains, such as technology, science and education, when developing the multi-year strategic digitalisation agenda. This can be done by facilitating collaborative laboratories and hubs where knowledge and skills are combined from different angles. For this purpose, existing regional and local knowledge and practice networks in various places in the Netherlands must be mapped and strengthened. Large and small parties can benefit from the flywheel function that this collaboration provides, both on an artistic, social and economic level.

Interactive digital platform for culture

The council also recommends that the possibilities of an interactive digital platform for culture be investigated and the possibilities offered by the NPO be included. It must be prevented that the sector is completely dependent on existing commercial platforms, such as YouTube, warns the council. As a result, the sector loses ownership.

Digital skills

Finally, the council points to the lack of digitally qualified personnel, without whom the digital transformation is unthinkable. This really calls for action, especially as jobs in the cultural and creative sectors cannot compete with other sectors in terms of pay. The council sees retraining and further training in digital skills within the sector as a promising opportunity. State Secretary Uslu for culture and media recently released one million euros in connection with Permanent Professional Development. The Council sees this as a good first step.

Expert committee

The advice has been prepared by a selection of experts from the cultural and creative sector, science and business under the leadership of Ilona Haaijer. Emilie Gordenker, Henca Maduro, Wouter van Ransbeek, Alexander Ribbink, Edo Righini and Liesbet van Zoonen were also on the committee. Chairman of the Cultural Council, Kristel Baele, will deliver the advice to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science during the online symposium.

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