State Hermitage in Saint Petersburg.

International Cultural Policy 2017-2020

The international cultural policy of the Netherlands should among other things contribute to a strong cultural sector which is seen and valued abroad.

Key points of the international cultural policy framework2017-2020 are: greater appreciation for the intrinsic and social significance of culture, greater emphasis on the importance of exchange, networks and reciprocity, a cohesive and integral approach to other countries, emphasis on the connecting role of culture and support for cultural diplomacy worldwide.

International practice
Under the influence of globalisation and digitalisation, the work terrain of a good many artists, designers and cultural institutes now extends throughout the world. International cultural practice is changing because of the growing need for exchange of knowledge and information, political developments, the expanded ambitions of cities, and the growing significance of social issues such as sustainability, human rights and aging of the population.

Broader approach
International cultural cooperation serves many interests. The policy plan 2017-2020 follows upon an investigation of the international cultural policy for the 2009-2014 period by the Policy and Evaluations Operation Department (IOB) and advice from the Council for Culture.Along with the Council for Culture and the IOB, the Ministries have ascertained that too much emphasis was placed on the economic value of culture and cultural exports over the last several years. This narrow approach does not do enough justice to the breadth and significance of international cultural practice.

The 2017-2020 policy plan gives more attention to culture’s intrinsic and social value –without, however, entirely losing sight of its economic value. The Ministries have also responded to an appeal from the cultural field and elsewhere to clarify the positions of the various parties and to introduce more coherence and direction.

Objectives for 2017-2020
1. A strong cultural sector, the quality of which will increase through international exchange and sustained cooperation, and is seen and valued abroad
Using various means, the idea is to stimulate the international exchange of supply, makers, knowledge and expertise, while enlarging the work terrain and increasing visibility. A greater coherency in government support, a case-by-case response to initiatives from the cultural field and a clearer position taken by DutchCulture will strengthen the clout of the Netherlands’ international cultural policy.

A combined, several-year focus is being developed for eight countries: Belgium/Flanders, China, Germany, France, Indonesia, Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom. There is also room for initiatives that can be bundled, if necessary, for countries like Brazil, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Surinam and South Africa.

For the realization of these objectives, the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are annually making available €5.2 million and €5.6 million respectively, to be distributed through diplomatic posts, public funds and supporting institutes, among others.

2. More room for a cultural contribution to a safe, just and sustainable world
In a world full of tensions, culture and creativity can contribute to greater social cohesion and a more open society that has more room for cultural differences. Through cultural connections, the Netherlands wants to strengthen mutual understanding and trust with four countries around Europe: Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and Russia. This objective is also relevant for the activities of the Prince Claus Fund, although the fund continues to operate in countries outside this group.

For the realisation of this objective, an annual amount of €7 million is available through the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Amongst others, the Dutch diplomatic representations, Prins Claus Fund, and the Creative Industries Fund NL (Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie) are the executing partners in this policy objective. 

3. Put culture to effective use in modern diplomacy
Culture shows who we are and can open doors that otherwise would remain shut. All Dutch embassies and consulates use the possibilities that culture offers them on occasion. In 2017-2020, however, access to information, knowledge and the cultural network in the Netherlands will be improved, so that the diplomatic posts can add context to their cultural diplomacy in a modern and professional manner.

For this objective, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is deploying €0.5 million through the diplomatic posts.

Shared Cultural Heritage and the Creative Industry
Shared Cultural Heritage remains an important area of interest in Dutch international cultural policy. Countries in this category will be treated on a case-by-case basis, and if they also are a focus country, shared cultural heritage will be part of an integrated several-year strategy.

For the Creative Industry, the new international cultural policy has room for initiatives from the sector in focus countries and elsewhere, and an invitation to contribute through the social value of the Creative Industry to a safe, just and sustainable world.

More information
You can find the 2017- 2020 international cultural policy framework at or download the policy framework here (pdf).