Shared Cultural Heritage: Matching Fund 2017-2020

Dutch organisations are eligible to apply at the Matching Fund for shared heritage activities.

The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Education, Culture and Science have made funds available for shared cultural heritage activities via the Dutch embassies and DutchCulture. DutchCulture has a sum of € 200,000 per year at its disposal for shared heritage activities by Dutch legal entities. An important aim for the Matching Fund is the promotion of and coherence in shared heritage activities. Coherence is created by central themes, such as the historical city centre, water management and historical perceptions. The Shared Cultural Heritage programme council will advise on the allocation of the funds available. 

Important conditions
Matching funding can be awarded to projects that:

  • Are requested by Dutch legal entities,
  • Are in collaboration with at least one partner from Indonesia, the United States of America, Suriname, South Africa, Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Russia or Australia,
  • Are visible for a broad audience in the Netherlands and/or in the partner countries.

Further note that:

  • The Matching Fund covers up to 50% of the total project costs,
  • The funds granted are between € 5,000 and € 35,000.

The Shared Cultural Heritage programme council will advise on the apportioning of the Matching Fund. In considering awarding funds, the programme council will pay attention to factors such as cultural-historical significance, uniqueness, representativeness and the technical urgency of the projects.

If you think you are eligible for the Matching Funds, it is recommended you contact the responsible staff member at DutchCulture before you send in your application. 

The next deadline of the Matching Fund will be at the end of 2020. Keep an eye on this page for further information.

Part 3 – Building a shared future

In this trilogy Remco Vermeulen, Advisor Indonesia, searches for the shared past and shared future of the Netherlands and Indonesia. His personal journey of discovery leads from his own family history to today’s dynamic debate of cultural cooperation. Through this journey, his subjective and nostalgic image of Indonesia develops along with the complex and modern image in which many personal histories define the relationship between both countries. 

The sun slowly sets behind the trees, but the heat of the day still lingers above the water. In the shadows of the trees around the pond young people are hanging out and talking. There is a wifi spot so most of them are buried in their smartphones. Behind them stately homes: some modern and so big that they dwarf the neighbouring houses. Others still under construction. Here and there weathered orange tiled roofs of dilapidated colonial villas. Somewhere along this pond, at the Jalan Lembang in Menteng, Jakarta, my mother, aunt and grandparents were living in the 1970s. 

Young people relaxing at Taman Jalan Lembang, Menteng, 2016  

Young people look ahead 
It is August 2016 and I am in Jakarta for the first time. At the Erasmus Huis, the cultural centre of the Netherlands Embassy, I attend a symposium on heritage management and the importance of historical research. Around me remarkably many young people are sitting. 

Indonesian youth have an enormous interest in the exotic Netherlands and in the shared aspects of our cultures and histories. Their parents grew up with resentment to the Dutch occupation, their grandparents either think back nostalgically to the Dutch period or never speak about it due to personal traumas. But Indonesian millennials tour across Taman Fatahillah (former Stadhuisplein) on coloured bikes as tourist in own country: the former colonial capital Batavia is now a popular hang-out. 

Cycling at Taman Fatahillah with Museum Sejarah Jakarta in the background, 2016 

The Erasmus Huis, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2020, is a beacon of cultural diplomacy. Here bilateral relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia are strengthened, with culture as binder. Think of a Dutch photographer who wants to open an exhibition in Indonesia, Indonesian students who want to pursue education in the Netherlands or Dutch and Indonesian entrepreneurs who want to set up a cultural venture together.  

The Erasmus Huis dedicates itself to strengthening cultural cooperation between the Netherlands and Indonesia, improving the image of the Netherlands with the Indonesian people and stimulating knowledge exchange. Objectives that are now more current than ever. To enable exchange, ears and eyes in the cultural sectors of Indonesia and the Netherlands are needed. The Erasmus Huis fulfils this role in Indonesia, DutchCulture in the Netherlands.

From policy to personal stories
Indonesia is an important country for the Netherlands because of the shared history. In the Dutch international cultural policy, Indonesia is included among other countries in the so called Shared Cultural Heritage programme. DuchCulture and other organizations actively stimulate cultural cooperation with these countries

Examples of projects that have been supported by this programme are publications of (colonial) architecture such as ‘The Life and Work of Thomas Karsten’ by Joost Coté and Hugh O’Neill and ‘Building in Indonesia 1600-1960’ by Cor Passchier; tools to strengthen local knowledge and awareness such as the Digging4Data toolkit and a professional training on adaptive reuse of industrial heritage in Sawahlunto (Sumatra); and photography projects visualizing personal, often emotional, stories such as ‘The Widows of Rawagede’ by Suzanne Liem and ‘The People Behind the Seawall’ by Cynthia Boll.

Ibu Taswi, photo from ‘The widows of Rawagede’ (Collection Suzanne Liem)

Cultural cooperation helps bringing forward personal stories that make the shared past tangible. For me this means that I cherish and keep alive the memories of my grandfather who was born in Surabaya (East-Java). That the nasi goreng after my mum’s recipe is more than just my favourite dish. That the restoration of the Gedung Arsip Nasional (formerly known as Reinier de Klerk Huis) by construction company Decorient has more meaning because my grandfather was director of that company in the 1970s. 

When I visited Jakarta for the first time in August 2016 I visited this beautiful building. It was restored in 1995 with funds put together by a number of major Dutch companies with economic interests in Indonesia. Decorient also turns out to have constructed the current Netherlands Embassy and adjacent Erasmus Huis; led by my grandfather the negotiations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were advanced. The complex was eventually finished in 1981. 

Shared history, shared future? 
The Netherlands and Indonesia have a shared history that goes back to the Golden Age. We all know the glorious stories of the Dutch East India Company, of the majestic ships sailing back from the East loaded with pepper, tin, ivory or china which made the Netherlands a rich and powerful country. Much fewer people are aware of the dark chapters of this shared past: slaves who suffered in households, on plantations or in mines, children fathered by Dutch men with local women and who were taken away from their mothers to be shaped into Dutch-Indo model citizens in orphanages. Or the excessive violence that was used by the Dutch army during the Indonesian War of Independence between 1945 and 1949. 

A Dutch military patrol in Indonesia, 1949 (Photo: ANP)

Today there is a growing interest for the Dutch-Indonesian shared past, of which the collective memory is slowly being revised. Research into the period 1945-1949 in Indonesia commissioned by the Dutch government is making Dutch newspaper headlines. This also happened when the book ‘De tolk van Java’ by Alfred Birney won the Libris Literature Prize last year. At DutchCulture we see that of all project proposals we receive for our Shared Cultural Heritage Matching Fund, a clear majority consists of projects on Indonesia and contribute to mutual reflection on the shared past of the Netherlands and Indonesia. Recently we have supported the photography project ‘I Love Banda’ of Isabelle Boon, a publication on the Dutch administrator in Aceh Friedrich Wilhelm Stammeshaus by John Klein Nagelvoort, and a book tour through Indonesia by Maarten Hidskes who spoke with descendants, veterans and academics about their memories of the Indonesian War of Independence.  

A special relationship
Young Indonesians with whom I am in touch regularly, also recognize the importance of a shared cultural future for the Netherlands and Indonesia. For Putri Melati (25, architectural researcher) understanding the shared past with the Netherlands is key to understanding the complex puzzle of Indonesia’s history. Rezki Dikaputera (25, architect) adds that Indonesian archives with Dutch documents should be accessible to young academics and heritage professionals. Ashdianna Rahmatasari (33, planner) and Punto Wijayanto (40, university lecturer) both think that Dutch expertise can help with challenges Indonesia is currently facing, whether in heritage management, water management or urban planning. 

Jakarta Heritage Academy participants, among which Putri Melati (third from left) and Rezki Dikaputera (fifth from left) in Erasmus Huis, August 2016 

Sandwiched between two massive concrete residences – one still under construction – a low house with a tiled roof and a somewhat kitschy colonnade is standing strong. Through the high, sealed off entrance gate I cannot see whether this is a new building or it just received a big facelift. But it does not matter. It is 2016 and in the middle of chaotic and overwhelming Jakarta I have found the house where my mother used to live. For me this is the place where past, present and the future come together. 

<< Read back Part 1 - Building the Dutch East Indies 
< Read back Part 2 - Building Indonesia

Part 2 – Building Indonesia

In this trilogy Remco Vermeulen, Advisor Indonesia, searches for the shared past and shared future of the Netherlands and Indonesia. His personal journey of discovery leads from his own family history to today’s dynamic debate of cultural cooperation. Through this journey, his subjective and nostalgic image of Indonesia develops along with the complex and modern image in which many personal histories define the relationship between both countries. 

For as long as I can remember, in the house of my grandparents there is a drawing of an Indonesian woman, sitting with bare shoulders and seen from the back, while slightly inclining her head to the spectator. I have always thought this a beautiful work, with simple black lines on a white background. The drawing is signed by Harijadi S. Only in 2016 I discovered who he was.   

The mentioned drawing, by Harijadi S, 1977  

A new nation
After declaring independence of Indonesia in 1945 the charismatic first president Sukarno takes upon himself the immense task of forging a new nation. He presents the Pancasila as the philosophical foundation of the state, which promotes equality and justice for all, very diverse, Indonesians. Bahasa Indonesia becomes the new national language, a mix of the commonly used Pasar Malay and many Dutch loanwords. Administrasi, famili, garansi, restoran and sirkulasi are only a few examples. The Dutch language has also taken many words from Malay-Indonesian.  

Sukarno, educated as architect at the Technische Hoogeschool in Bandoeng (now: Bandung Institute of Technology), also literally builds a new state. The capital city of Jakarta, the former Batavia, becomes the symbol of progress and the cradle of national identity. Especially during the period 1959 to 1965 grand construction projects dominate the city, for example at Medan Merdeka (Independence Square, formerly known as Koningsplein). Here the Monumen Nasional (National Monument), the Masjid Istiqlal (national mosque of Indonesia) and many ministries arise. The monument and mosque are designed by the Indonesian architect Frederich Silaban in deliberate neutral modernist style. Former colonial governmental buildings around the square are reused, such as Istana Merdeka (formerly Paleis te Koningsplein), Galeri Nasional Indonesia (formerly Hogere Burgerschool, Carpentier Alting Stichting) and Museum Nasional (formerly Museum van Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen). The nearby neighbourhood of Menteng, with grand family homes, diplomatic residences and lush green streets and lanes, remains home to the elite. 

Masjid Istiqlal under construction in 1963 (Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen)

The relationship between the Netherlands and Indonesia seriously deteriorates under Sukarno’s rule, especially by the forced nationalisation of Dutch companies in Indonesia and the expulsion of the (Indo) Dutch in 1957. Sukarno is completely focused on Indonesia and tolerates no influence from outside. The last years of his presidency are marked by conflicts with the Netherlands on Papua New Guinea, and with Malaysia, Singapore and the United States. Foreign investments are barely allowed. Sukarno’s ‘Guided Democracy’ is turned over by the 1965 coup by his prime minister, General Suharto, amidst political unrest, domestic insurgence and immense bloodshed.

Opening up to the outside
It is left to the new president Suharto to restore peace in Indonesia, if necessary with more violence, and to breathe new life in the country’s economy. He allows loans, development aid and investors from abroad. Indonesia with its natural resources and growing population (i.e. market) is very appealing. The Netherlands is one of the countries that wants to profit. 

In 1970 the Netherlands opens the Erasmus Huis in Jakarta. This cultural centre, connected to the Dutch Embassy, is established to encourage cultural cooperation between the Netherlands and Indonesia. The historical relationship between both countries plays an important role, as well as diplomatic relations and economic interests. Culture is actively deployed as binder. Also in 1970, Kota Tua (historical inner city) of Jakarta around Taman Fathillah (formerly Stadhuisplein) is designated as a protected cultural heritage site. Plans are made for the restoration and development of Kota Tua, and in the former City Hall the new Museum Sejarah Jakarta (Historical Museum Jakarta) is opened as main tourist attraction.   

Museum Sejarah Jakarta at Taman Fatahillah, 1971 (Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen)

My opi returns to his motherland, the ‘old Inje’ as he called it, with his wife and daughters in 1973, after 26 years absence. He is now director of construction company Decorient (‘Dutch Engineering Contractors in the Orient’). Decorient was founded by large Dutch contractors in 1970 to compete with other international contractors. His assignments: to find an Indonesian partner (obligated by Indonesian law) and to bring in projects with support of that partner. 

The mural by Harijadi S. in Museum Sejarah Jakarta, 2016

The painter of Batavia
In Indonesia the economy is picking up and the competition amongst foreign investors and companies is killing. Many politicians and business leaders have roots in the Dutch East Indies and speak Dutch, but this does not lead to a better negotiation position for Dutch companies. On the contrary, the shared history remains sensitive. Either way, Ali Sadikin, governor of Jakarta, commissions several artists to make works for the new Museum Sejarah Jakarta. One of them makes a huge mural, depicting Batavia under colonial rule from 1880 to 1920. He portrays Batavia as a cosmopolitan city, with figures in characteristic dresses from all corners of the world, Indonesian and Dutch, Arab and Chinese, a fast car next to a traditional ox wagon, a kissing couple next to a bloody repression scene but also a large Indische rijsttafel. The painter never finishes his work. Due to the limestone underground and extreme humidity he cannot colourize the work with any kind of material and gradually it is forgotten. But in 2010 the mural is rediscovered and since 2017 it features in the new entrance hall of the museum. The name of the painter is Harijadi Sumodidjojo, or Harijadi S.  

Detail of the mural by Harijadi S. in Museum Sejarah Jakarta, 2016 

My opi gets to know Harijadi through a commission for Decorient. In 1977 my opi hosts a big reception in Museum Sejarah Jakarta when the company’s directors visit from the Netherlands. I can imagine that my opi had the opportunity to see the Batavia mural in the making. Not much later his contract with Decorient comes to an end and he and his family return to the Netherlands. As goodbye present Harijadi gifts my opi a drawing of a sitting woman, with bare shoulders and seen from the back. 

< Read back Part 1 - Building the Dutch East Indies
Read further Part 3 - Building a shared future >

Part 1 – Building the Dutch East Indies

In this trilogy Remco Vermeulen, Advisor Indonesia, searches for the shared past and shared future of the Netherlands and Indonesia. His personal journey of discovery leads from his own family history to today’s dynamic debate of cultural cooperation. Through this journey, his subjective and nostalgic image of Indonesia develops along with the complex and modern image in which many personal histories define the relationship between both countries. 

My first image of Indonesia was shaped by the many stories my grandfather, or opi as we used to call him, told me as a little boy, and which he put in writing in the 1990s. His stories sketch an image of a carefree childhood in the Dutch East Indies. 

Sawahs at Singosari, 2015 (Collection Daphne Vermeulen)

Early childhood
In 1934 my opi’s brother builds a house in the village of Singosari, about 90 kilometres south of Surabaya, East Java. It is one of those typical Indo-European (or ‘Indo’) residences of the upper middle class, with all living quarters on the ground floor, shadowy verandas and high roofs with tiles and small openings for ventilation. My opi is about ten years old when he moves to Singosari with his parents, which is a small village amidst rice fields and tropical forests. After school he runs around with his dog and shoots pigeons with a small airgun. He has kite fights with the kampong children or helps his mother with baking Indo delicacies such as spekkoek, mocha cakes or koningskronen. In Surabaya, the big city, where he attends the Koningin Emma technical high school, he goes to the movies with his school friends who have Indo-Chinese, Dutch, Indo, Portuguese-Indo and Javanese backgrounds. Later, he goes to dancing evenings at the Indo Europees Verbond, at the Oranje Hotel or the Sociëteit with his older sister and brother-in-law. 
The road 'Gemblongan' with busy car traffic, Soerabaja, ca. 1930 (Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen)

Different memories
The memories of my opi have become my memories, like romantic scenes of an epic movie. Not long ago I reread his memoires. It still strikes me how multicultural he sketches the 1930s society of the Dutch East Indies. The light-heartedness he describes was of course partly due to his innocent, possibly naive, young perspective. But my opi was a man with a remarkably positive attitude. During the annual commemoration of the end of the Second World War in the Dutch East Indies on 15 August in The Hague, years ago, when one of the speakers held an emotional recitation of the traumatic experiences of his father in a Japanese internment camp, opi turned to me and whispered “it was not all that bad”. Had my opi, as an adventurous teenager, been lucky during his own internment? Or was this his way of comforting me or himself, as protection against the horrors so many had experienced in the Japanese internment camps or under heavy forced labour? I can no longer ask him these questions. But his memories, exceptionally detailed, remain. They stir my curiosity to the old and new Indonesia.  

Stimulated by my work at DutchCulture I am increasingly realizing that the memories of my grandfather are only showing one side of Indonesia’s history. I know that many other personal stories and memories are by far not as beautiful as his. All those different stories and memories are becoming increasingly visible in the Netherlands and Indonesia, and they stimulate me to view my own family history in a new and broader context. 

From trade to occupation
The multicultural society in the Dutch East Indies of my grandfather is partly caused by the Dutch colonial government, but has been part of the character of the archipelago since the dawn of time. In the Iron Age small islands are inhabited by different ethnical groups. The fertile volcanic soil offers a wealth of fauna and especially flora, of which the value is increasingly recognized: cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and later on sugarcane, coffee, rubber, oil and so on. With boats the Chinese, the Arabs, the Portuguese and also the Dutch come to the archipelago to exploit the natural resources and to trade. The Dutch, led by the Dutch East India Company, settle permanently in the archipelago to protect their trade interests. Violence is not avoided here. On strategical locations fortresses and harbours are constructed. Batavia is the capital city. 

The castle of Batavia. Andries Beekman, ca. 1656 (Collection Rijksmuseum)

Dutch and other Europeans are encouraged to settle in the colonies and beget ‘loyal’ offspring with local women. Only when the Dutch East India Company goes bankrupt in 1798 and all its property is appropriated by the state, the Dutch presence is expanded enormously at the expense of the sovereignty of local rulers and population. Initially the colonial government practices a so-called policy of abstention: the centralized government in Batavia is limited to Java and Ambon while on other, more remote islands cooperation agreements with local rulers are signed. In the second half of the nineteenth century the colonial government expands its power, by example of the British Empire, to the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes, Bali and Timor. Expansion is going hand in hand with bloody conflicts. 

Cultural exchanges
Until then the archipelago is primarily a cash cow for the Dutch: natural resources are exploited on a large scale, shipped to the Netherlands for processing and sold for solid profits. Only in the late 1800s, under pressure of rising emancipation in Europe and out of an ‘ideal of civilization’, the colonial government reluctantly starts investing in society. Education (in Dutch!) and social facilities become accessible to (some parts of) society and regions get more self-determination. At the same time the Dutch living in the Dutch East Indies dress for special occasions in local dress of batik shirts, sarongs and kebajas. Meanwhile the famous ‘Indische rijsttafel’ becomes a status symbol of colonial hospitality equivalent to European banquets. Dutch and Indo architects integrate local architectural styles and elements with western Art Deco, Amsterdam School and Modernist styles into the New Indies Style. 

Villa Isola (1933), Bandung, designed by Wolff Schoemaker in Art Deco style, 2016   

Leaving the Dutch East Indies
Although the colonial government in Batavia primarily invests in Dutch - and to a lesser extent in Indo - citizenship, education and self-determination create more awareness and longing for independence among local communities. At the beginning of the twentieth century Indonesian nationalism is born. Representatives of this new movement try to enforce reforms with the colonial government. They only partly succeed, but when the colonial government is ousted after the invasion of Japan in 1942, there is no way back. After the surrender of Japan in 1945 the Indonesian nationalists take power. The Netherlands does not accept this and the Indonesian War of Independence is a fact. Eventually Indonesia gains its independence, and the Dutch acknowledge the new Republic of Indonesia in 1949. 

MS Kota Baroe, on which my opi werd repatriated, in the harbour of Port Said, ca. 1946 (Collection Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd Museum)

At that time my opi does no longer live in his country of birth. He is one of the first to make use of the possibility to repatriate in 1947. Aged 22, he ventures to the Netherlands, a country where he had not been before but of which he speaks the language and has the nationality. 

Read further Part 2 - Building Indonesia >
Read further Part 3 - Building a shared future >>

USA: Thread Lines continues as Pop Up

From a residency at the Wyckoff House Museum, Brooklyn, to exhibiting at the Smithsonian Pop Up Museum in NYC: the success of Dutch textile artist Farida Sedoc.

After completing her residency at the Wyckoff House Museum in Brooklyn, New York, Dutch textile artist Farida Sedoc was asked to show her work at the Smithsonian Pop Up Museum in NYC from 12 and 13 November.

The Smithsonian Pop Up Museum is a part of the Museum of Impact programme. ‘Thread Lines’ was an Artist-in-Residence programme with Dutch textile artist Farida Sedoc at Brooklyn’s Wyckoff House Museum. The residency, which connected heritage with contemporary culture to explore our relationship with fabric, fibres and textiles, included research, workshops, public programmes and art-making over the course of two months in August and September. Farida Sedoc transformed the historic Wyckoff House’s 18th-century formal parlour into an art studio that was open to the public for weekly programmes and workshops.

In the Netherlands the work of Farida Sedoc, including work she made at Wyckoff House Museum, is currently on display in the group show at W139 in Amsterdam. 

USA: Port Cities kicks off in NYC

The first episode of Port Cities, a performance project linking five cities along trade routes of the Dutch in the 17th century, took place from 5 to 18 May.

This kick-off of this global multimedia performance art project was a big success, with great press coverage and interesting talk-back sessions for a more in-depth understanding of the Dutch colonial history in New York.

Port Cities is a global performance art project with live music, linking five cities along the trade routes of the Dutch in the17th century by exploring their different connections to these routes: from Perth to Cape Town and from Amsterdam and New York to Jakarta.

The performance was created by Talya Chalef and a team of local and international artists. It combines local myths, legends and folklore, exploring them against the backdrop of contemporary issues.

The Port Cities performance in New York was the first episode of this global odyssey.