Bishop on culture – SGP

On Monday 14 November 2022, the House of Representatives debated culture during legislative consultation. Member of Parliament Roelof Bisschop spoke on behalf of SGP, his contribution can be read here.

After two years of corona and then the struggle with rising energy prices, you may have some gloomy thoughts about the state of culture in our country. Many cultural institutions are not doing well. Who will keep their heads above water? If you read the budget, fortunately there is also another story to tell. There is still a lot and a lot going on. And there is also quite a bit of extra money. I would like to highlight a number of themes.

Accessibility libraries
SGP is pleased that more attention has been paid to the importance of a fully developed library. The government strives for a future-oriented library in every municipality. However, it sounds simpler than it is. When dealing with legislative proposals on the reclassification of municipalities, you see concretely what the consequences can be for the availability of facilities. In that case, there may still be a library in the merged municipality, but for residents of the former municipalities, the travel distance sometimes increases considerably. According to the Secretary of State, what is a reasonable distance to the library?

SGP believes that it is right that you should be aware of the need to deliver tailored solutions. For example, the state secretary mentions the possibility of cooperating as neighboring municipalities. SGP considers it important not only to focus on libraries that fulfill all functions, but also to use the possibilities of the individual library functions. For example, a book lending point that is linked to lending traffic can have added value to serve certain municipalities in rural districts. Are such possibilities also explored in the drafting of the bill?

The minister talks about targeted stimulation through a grant over the next two years. SGP would like to hear in more detail how targeted that approach is. For example, is there a list of municipalities and districts that deserve priority attention, and are these municipalities actively encouraged to make use of the scheme?

Reading promotion
In 2019, the Education Council and the Culture Council called for a reading offensive. Fortunately, the necessary has been done, but we must not relax in this offensive. The SGP has the impression that the main land forces are still not deployed enough in this regard. It’s the parents. The relationship between schools and libraries is dealt with in the various action plans. However, support for parents is still a low priority.

There are also good initiatives from libraries which introduce children and families to books, but this does not mean that parents are supported in how they can promote their children’s reading. How does the Secretary of State incorporate targeted approaches to parents in his plans? Do we ensure, for example, that the schools can inform the libraries which parents will benefit from an offer from the library?

The restoration industry
The preservation of specialist expertise for the restoration of monuments is a problem. Think, for example on the work of straw cutters, zinc workers, glaziers and jointers. Recruiting and retaining enough professionals remains a significant challenge. Another important problem is that the training structure is vulnerable. The result depends to a large extent on the efforts of private education courses from the sector. Small employers cannot bear these costs entirely themselves. The first question is therefore what the Secretary of State is doing to give these restoration processes a future perspective.

The National Center for Cultural Heritage Education has bridging grants up to and including next year, but after that there is no guarantee. Can this center count on a structural basic amount to ensure the development of the education?

The second question concerns the role of state-funded vocational training. What does the Secretary of State think that these institutions do not have a stronger role? How can the inclusion of state-funded education be strengthened to improve quality and increase uptake? Will she discuss this with the MBO council?

Recycling and church visions
SGP has noted that attention to recycling is relatively limited in the plans. The construction industry rightly points out that it is precisely the reuse of monuments that can help make more homes available. In addition, the forecasts about the vacancy of church monuments also suggest that a clear role for the government remains necessary. There have been good plans for the development of religious heritage, such as the churches’ visions, and this requires follow-up. Will the Minister submit these issues to Parliament in a separate letter?

Tax deductible gifts
At a time when many cultural institutions are struggling financially, the institutions must have maximum opportunities to generate income. It is therefore disappointing that just last week it was decided to strongly limit the gift deduction. How does the Secretary of State assess this development, and what opportunities does she see for launching creative flanking measures to help the institutions get their own income? It is unfortunate that the effects on donor behavior have not been studied. Will the Secretary of State keep a close eye on how it will work in the cultural sector?

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