Akerboom’s contribution to WHO culture

14 November 2022


Art and culture enrich life. It is precisely in these times of crisis after crisis that culture can offer so much comfort and ensure that people are busy with something else for a period of time. But unfortunately the crises have not passed the cultural sector by, but have hit it hard.

  • There is a shortage of staff, many people have had to look for another job during the shutdowns and are not coming back,
  • visitor numbers are falling and tickets are only bought at the last minute,
  • I see one trip after another being canceled due to excessive costs.

Sir. Speaker, our group was therefore pleased to see that the Secretary of State is making adjustments to get the sector back on track, and that the sector itself is involved in this.

Sir. Speaker, we are also receiving emergency reports of rising energy costs. These are an attack on the financial position of the cultural sector.
We’ve read about venues expecting an energy bill of more than a million and museums closing their doors in the winter because of the gas bill. We understand that the Secretary of State is already working hard on this.
My group hopes that attention will also be paid to small institutions, which may not be directly affected by the energy bill, but by the fact that both visitor numbers and inflation can no longer give the overall picture.
Think amateur art or small and medium-sized cultural institutions, youth centers, dance schools and art studios. What will the Secretary of State do for these institutions if they no longer make it?
For example, will there be a sustainability fund specifically aimed at small and medium-sized cultural institutions, so that the energy bill will be more bearable from now on?

President, culture is invaluable and essential. That is why, according to my group, it is so gross that if municipalities cannot implement the budget, culture is one of the first things to die. [1]The municipalities recognize the importance, but the position of the local cultural institutions is vulnerable due to the current structure.
Although it is precisely the foundation of small institutions that is so important, think about studios and local venues. These are the places where budding artists in all disciplines can make progress in front of the public. But which is simply also of great importance in itself, for the vibrancy and well-being of a municipality.
Can the State Secretary explain what she can do about this situation, does she also consider it undesirable that local culture is often the first thing to die if the municipalities do not get their budgets under control? Please comment. [2]

Sir. Speaker, the Secretary of State is committed to using creativity in complex social challenges. It is good to read. One initiative after another is emerging from the arts and culture sector to draw attention to the biggest challenge of our time, the climate crisis, and encourage people to take action.[3]Art can make the unthinkable conceivable, and does so fully: From theater performances and creative street art to complete climate operas and the remix of Bach’s Four Seasons on a heated earth.

An initiative from the music sector that is already widely supported is Music Declares Emergency. Your message: There is no music on a dead planet. Supported from the Netherlands by, for example, Ruben Hein and Antilectual, made internationally famous by Billie Eilish and Massive Attack.[4]
These artists declare a climate emergency and offer practical tips for artists and the cultural sector. Think about planning a trip as sustainably as possible, plant-based catering and environmentally friendly goods.

It is good to see that the culture wants it so much and that it is already contributing of itself in all possible ways. Many sectors can take an example from this, and the state secretary can perhaps draw inspiration from that.

At the same time, a structural approach is lacking, and important opportunities are missed. Three representatives from the arts and culture sector recently argued in de Volkskrant for a cultural, climate and environmental codex[5], which they are currently further developing. This instrument can be used to drastically reduce the ecological footprint of the sector, but also to enable the cultural sector to contribute to awareness and social turning points that we so desperately need to address the climate crisis. Like the Fair Practice Code, this will then serve as a grant condition. Is the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware of this call? And is she prepared to sit down with the sector and implement it?

Sir. chairman, there is already a subsidy scheme to make social property more sustainable, which the culture can also claim, DUMAVA.
I just noticed that the jar for this year was quickly empty. Is there a prospect that the pool will increase next time? Ultimately, the sustainability task is something that touches on so many things and must be done as soon as possible in any case.
Both for the costs of the institutions and for gas savings and the climate.
I hope that the Secretary of State will stick his neck out to ensure that no institution that wants to become more sustainable cannot do so now because of a lack of sufficient funding available.

In addition, my group wonders if the Minister is talking to the festival sector about sustainability? There is still a lot of use of very dirty diesel generators, while festivals are already running on green electricity. In addition, festivals are also known for the huge mountains of rubbish left behind, such as tents deliberately bought for a weekend. At one festival there is much more attention to this than at the other, so the good news is that the wheel doesn’t have to be reinvented.

Finally, there is another stumbling block in the cultural sector that we really need to do something about. Fossil industry lobby.
A growing list of cultural institutions is breaking ties with the fossil fuel industry. But a number of museums are still sponsored by Shell. It does not stop with sponsorship, Chairman, which is often offset by a positive story about the fossil fuel industry.
This greenwashing really needs to stop as far as my group is concerned because the influential tentacles of the fossil fuel industry cannot be removed from our society fast enough.
Does the Secretary of State agree that this is an unwanted influence and is she prepared to talk to these museums about severing ties with the fossil fuel industry?

[1] https://www.lkca.nl/artikel/gemeenten-erken-waarde-cultuur/
[2] https://www.raadvoorcultuur.nl/actueel/nieuws/2022/03/10/hartenkreet-Breng-culturele-basis-in-elke-gemeente-op-orde
[3] https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2021/10/06/tegen-de-klimaatcrisis-is-geen-kunstwerk-opwassen-a4060958
[4] https://www.musicdeclares.net/nl/declarers
[5] https://www.volkskrant.nl/columns-opinie/opinie-in-de-nederlandse-cultuursector-is-het-de-hoogste-tijd-voor-een-klimaatcode~b5641c0b/

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