The Art of Brabant has mixed feelings about the province’s new cultural policy

In the Lively Brabant Policy Framework, the province has outlined the main lines of cultural policy until 2030. The interest group De Kunst van Brabant has reacted cautiously to the chosen direction. But is concerned about the sharp reduction in the budget for culture after 2024.

With the help of Emmanuel Naijkens

‘Policy Framework Lively Brabant’ is the title of the document in which the province of North Brabant explains what must happen in the period up to 2030 within culture, cultural heritage, sport and leisure. Culture is therefore not an isolated policy area, but must share it with other sectors. It is another legacy of the right-wing council of the GS, which governed the province between May 2020 and May 2021, and of which the Forum for Democracy and Local Brabant was a part. During the short, turbulent reign, it was decided to merge art and culture with heritage, sport and leisure. Because why should the cursed art sector, which in Forum for Democracy only exists for the elite, have its own politics?

With the arrival of the new college of the GS (VVD, CDA, GroenLinks, D66, PvdA) in July 2021, on the ruins of the right wing, this merger has not been reversed. De Kunst van Brabant, an interest organization for the cultural sector with more than two hundred members, was, to put it mildly, not exactly happy that art and culture had been swept under the carpet by the right-wing university, but has now canceled. insist that there is no separate cultural policy anymore. Chairman Ap de Vries and board member Ad van Rosmalen also count their blessings.

Complete

“This is the first time that the inherent value of art and culture has been recognised. A description of this is included in the political framework. What worries us is that there seems to be no awareness that art and culture matter more than that they contribute to the Brabant experience,’ says De Vries. [zie kader].

Finally recognition of the inherent value of art and culture

The cultural sector is prepared to help tackle social issues, but this must be done on the basis of equality. So not as frills, but with full contribution. What does the cultural sector have to offer? Imagination, creativity, inspiration, design power and the ability to attack (thinking) processes from completely different angles. Because why hire (often expensive) consultants for that when there are so many creative minds roaming around Brabant? Of course for a fair reward, because it is often lacking.

In any case, Art of Brabant feels taken seriously by the current deputy Stijn Smeulders (culture, heritage, sports and leisure). “We have discussed the political framework with him several times. He knows what’s going on, we found a listening ear in him. It was different in the past.”

The Art of Brabant corresponds well with the ambition of the political framework: ‘(…) to have completed the supply agenda in 2030 in such a way that there is something to experience for all Brabants and to make Brabant attractive for residents, visitors and companies, with a focus on young people’.
However, there is a big ‘but’ and that is the available budget. Because the cultural sector, like cultural heritage, must give up significantly after 2024. It was already announced two years ago, but now that that date is fast approaching, concerns are growing.

Seven

Because what the political framework also makes clear, despite all the ambitions, is that the province is on the way back. She is now putting the ball more in the hands of organisations, municipalities and the government. North Brabant was not nationally known as a province that generously supports art and culture. Considering the size of the economy and population, North Brabant should be in third place after North and South Holland. In reality, Brabant is in seventh place.

The provincial election in March is decisive for the size of the cuts

One of the reasons for cutting back on culture and heritage is that the province has less to spend. Thanks to the lucrative sale of the energy company Essent in 2009, the province was in a good position for many years, and there was also more money available for culture and heritage. But that pool of Essent funds is running out. It therefore appears from the political framework that the province wants to support differently in the period up to 2030. More financial support for (short-term) programs at the expense of structural support.

Cut downs

It is anyone’s guess for De Kunst van Brabant what the consequences of this change of course will be. Will organizations such as KunstLoc Brabant and the Brabant C-fonden receive less money in the future? Do more people go directly to the cultural creators? And what will happen to the funding of the South Holland Philharmonic? The classical orchestra now receives one and a half million euros per year, but this is incidental funding, and the money is not drawn from the available budget for art and culture. If the latter is the case, the flush for the entire sector will only become thinner. A budget that is also eroded because there is no inflation adjustment. With the current 10% devaluation, it’s quite a drink on the drink.

The figures at a glance (in millions of euros):

Source: Vivid Brabant 2030 policy framework

This shows that a significant increase is expected this year, but the following year there will be a sharp decrease, and from 2025 only 18.3 million euros will be available annually. The consequences for the heritage sector are even more far-reaching.

Expectation

How the future will look depends on the results of the provincial council elections on 15 March next. It is expected that the current distribution of places will be reviewed significantly. It is not unthinkable that, after the negotiations on a new administrative agreement, a provincial council will take office that has less heart for culture and heritage. The policy framework, which will be adopted by the current provincial council in February, only indicates the broad outlines. The concrete details are in the hands of politicians who take office after March 15 and after the 2027 provincial election.

De Kunst van Brabant also fears that by cutting arts and culture spending at the provincial level, fewer Brabant institutions and projects will be eligible for national grants. In recent years, Noord-Brabant has been very successful in this, and more applications than ever have been awarded nationally. Because the province co-financed.

De Kunst van Brabant also draws attention to the economic consequences of the covid pandemic, which has hit the cultural sector hard. Especially the decision-makers who have to earn a living as a self-employed person. In addition, institutions are now faced with extreme energy costs.

The inherent value of culture

“Culture’s inherent value is about the value that makes the sector unique and distinguishes it from other sectors. So it is about the ability of creative imagination and its importance to people. Art and culture are not only about recognizing the known, but also about exploring the unknown, pushing boundaries and expanding the audience’s horizons. The intrinsic value in the public is about the personal, subjective experiences of individuals. Why people listen to music, read a book or visit a movie, show or museum; one is looking for entertainment, wants to be fascinated, needs reflection, silence, wants to be taken into another world, needs surprise or wonder, and so on.”

Source: Quote from Policy Framework Lively Brabant 2030


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Read also about Brabant Cultural:
It is at stake due to cuts in culture in North Brabant [2020]
New strategy works: more state subsidies for culture in Brabant [2020]
Brabant places an awfully low value on art and culture [2021]

© Brabant Cultural 2023

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