‘The education mainly focuses on talent and professional development. In addition, money will be made available to create a favorable climate for so-called cultural creators.’
Cultural life in Zeeland is largely dependent on a group of highly valued but aging volunteers and administrators. “A new generation of professionals is needed to make the cultural sector future-proof. It requires a new course.’ The implementation program Culture 2023 describes which activities the province will carry out in the coming year to achieve this professionalisation. “There is a lot of innovation in all areas, from heritage to art,” said Anita Pijpelink, deputy of the province of Zeeland. “Of course, we still provide grants to institutions and initiatives with great regional value, but we also invest in new networks, talent development and a good professional climate. We therefore see culture not only as a leisure activity, but also as a creative economy that contributes to solutions to social issues and changes. This will make culture a top economic sector with national and international appeal.”
When different parties within a sector come together, it creates opportunities. For example, on subsidies. ‘This movement has been going on for some time in the film sector and pop music. A quartermaster is currently mapping out how Zeeland’s venues and festivals can be strengthened in a future-oriented way. There is a good chance that the quartermaster’s results can also be applied to other parts of the cultural sector.’
The second part of the program focuses on guiding artistic talents in their artistic and business development. Three trials start within this program. Within a first attempt, Teaterproduktionshuset Zeeland, Vleeshal and Musikskolen Zeeland will guide artistic talents to develop their own artistic signature and working method.
Another test is Leeuwenpoort. ‘This initiative offers various residencies where graduates from Dutch art academies and universities make an innovative contribution to current themes such as the climate crisis or rising water levels through art and research. Leeuwenpoort wants to establish a connection with education in Zeeland.’
Finally, Fabriq is a research experiment for art and industry based in Terneuzen. New collaboration methods are developed on the basis of tasks, presentations and exhibitions, where artists, innovative industry and a cultural heritage institution work together.
Investment in education and professional climate
In order to strengthen the educational and professional climate in the cultural sector, Stichting Cultuurkwadraat will play a role as a provincial development company. Cultuurkwadraat will start a program that aims to train a new generation of cultural leaders. ‘With new salaried starter positions, assistant positions and a leadership programme, the uptake, advancement and professionalisation of the sector is taking shape. We also invest in cultural heritage education.’
In times of corona, a large group of cultural professionals, especially the self-employed, proved to be vulnerable. ‘They often could not rely on the support packages from municipalities and provinces. Following an urgent letter and discussions with this group, a Zeeland Artists’ Association has been established to support independent cultural professionals.’ A frequently heard call from artists is also the need for affordable spaces that are available for longer periods of time. ‘That’s why we want to hire an intermediary to help find and arrange studios, workspaces and presentation areas.’
According to the province, more than 1.5 million euros are needed for the implementation of the development program. ‘This pretty much fits within the province’s budget. Part of the resources come from central government; it will provide more than €300,000 annually up to and including 2024 for the renewal of the Zeeland culture sector. The province contributes the same amount.’