• Minister Van Engelshoven on Dutch Cultural Policy 2021 – 2024: Culture for everyone

    Minister Van Engelshoven on Dutch Cultural Policy 2021 – 2024: Culture for everyone

    13 juni 2019
    These are the Minister’s main principles for the new (international) Cultural Policy and for DutchCulture.

    “We can be proud of our cultural climate: the quality is high, and public interest is strong. Dutch artists are open to the international world and are comfortable working abroad. In a time where borders tend to be drawn more sharply, this should not be taken for granted.” So writes the minister in her letter to the Dutch House of Representatives, in which she sets out the principles for cultural policy in the period 2021-2024. It emphasises the importance of international cultural collaboration, and hence of DutchCulture.

    The main principles of the new policy and for DutchCulture are as follows.

    Internationalisation: culture knows no borders

    According to Van Engelshoven, international exchange is as much a matter of course in the field of culture as in science. Internationalisation is common practice in the cultural sector. The international cultural policy contributes to international exchange and to the Netherlands’ profile abroad, by connecting culture to societal challenges and diplomacy, foreign policy and human rights. The implementation of the policy is entrusted to parties including the cultural funds, DutchCulture, EYE, Het Nieuwe Instituut and embassies.

    • Support structure (Ondersteuningsstructuur)
      DutchCulture has again been tasked to fulfil a coordinating role, to bring together the expertise of multiple disciplines, and to coordinate the joint effort. DutchCulture’s tasks are determined by the results of the evaluation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Policy Operations and Evaluation department (Internationaal Onderzoek en Beleidsevaluatie) and the new international cultural policy framework. This framework also sets out the exact division of roles among the various parties.
    • International collaboration in the local region
      In the coming period, the minister will work with other public bodies to explore how the state government can exchange successful examples of international collaboration. This specifically concerns local regional collaboration with Flanders and Germany, and with other countries in Europe and further afield. It also concerns activities in the wake of the European Year of Cultural Heritage and exchanges under the umbrella of UNESCO.
    • Creative Europe
      EU programmes such as the Creative Europe programme (2014-2020) contribute to strengthening the position of the Dutch cultural and audio-visual sector, for instance in the fields of heritage, digitisation and innovation, and outreach toward children and teenagers. The Netherlands is a successful participant in the Creative Europe programme, and the Dutch cultural sector has a strong interest in European collaboration. Here, the Creative Europe Desk fulfils an important mediating role. For the new period (2021-2027), Van Engelshoven wishes to maintain the current programme committee and to reduce the administrative burden. These are also the points of concern recognised in the field, in the cities, and by the House of Representatives.
    • Implementing bodies of International Cultural Policy 
      Various parties are responsible for carrying out the International Cultural Policy, such as the cultural funds, supporting organisations and state government departments. The minister requests that they take this policy framework as guideline in their internationalisation activities in the countries specified in the policy framework for the 2021-2024 international cultural policy.
    The main points in the memorandum


    • Expanding the basic infrastructure
      There will be opportunity to expand and innovate in the basic infrastructure (BIS), for instance for organisations and makers who reach out to a broader audience with innovative genres such as urban arts, design and pop music. Festivals of performing arts, literature, design and crossovers will also have a role. The offer in performing arts for young people will be expanded, and talent development in all disciplines will be actively pursued. Money will be made available to support museums with a municipal or provincial collection. The BIS can accommodate one municipal or provincial museum per province.
    • Fair practice
      Organisations are required to endorse the Fair Practice Code. This code serves as a grant condition, requiring organisations to fulfil the agreements made in the sector regarding honest pay. There will also be investments in measures to increase the sector’s earning potential, for instance a structural facility to support professional development. 
    • Broad accessibility
      To give encouragement to people who generally do not seek exposure to culture and art, Van Engelshoven is launching a programme aimed at promoting cultural participation among the widest possible range of population groups. She is also promoting cultural education, and the programme Cultuureducatie met kwaliteit (‘Cultural education with quality’) will be continued. 
    • Collaboration with urban regions
      As part of an intensive collaboration with urban regions, a matching policy with local regions will be pursued in order to stimulate cultural innovation throughout the Netherlands. State and regional bodies will jointly invest in fresh initiatives.

    Based on the outlined guidelines and criteria, cultural organisations can submit their grant applications for the period 2021-2024. Following the advice of the Council for Culture (Raad van Cultuur), Minister Van Engelshoven will announce the grant decisions on Prinsjesdag (third Tuesday of September, when the main features of government policy for the coming parliamentary session are presented) 2020. 

    A hearing in the House of Representatives on the 2021-2024 cultural policy memorandum is scheduled for 20 June, and the House will debate the memorandum on 27 June. The House will receive the new policy framework for international cultural policy in the autumn of 2019. 

  • International Cultural Policy in Egypt: What’s in it for us?

    The Storytelling Club in Egypt. Photo: Willemijn Hellenthal

    International Cultural Policy in Egypt: What’s in it for us?

    17 juni 2019
    What are the strengths and limits of Dutch support to cultural development beyond national territory? The results of a master's thesis.
    By Willemijn Hellenthal

    This article is written as a result of conducted research on Dutch cultural policy as implemented in Egypt. The findings of this research are presented in a master’s thesis by the writer at the Radboud University of Nijmegen.

    "Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits." (UDHR, art. 27)

    Egypt is one of the countries that has been selected for the 2017-2020 framework of Dutch International Cultural Policy (ICP), targeting local societal development through cultural projects.[1] Aiming to contribute to citizens’ ‘right to culture’ as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Dutch government states that freedom of artistic expression should be taken care of in every society, so that a country’s cultural sector can flourish and be of significance to that society.

    Objective II of Dutch ICP is exercised by funding local cultural projects through the Dutch embassy in Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and Russia. Cultural projects that are part of this policy vary from local cinemas that broadcast both European and local movies, to a local theatre incubator that educates different theatre troupes involving young artists. One could also think of projects that embrace dance, heritage and storytelling. However, cultural collaboration between The Netherlands and a country in the so-called ‘ring around Europe’ has, besides many strengths, also its limits, and this article hopes to shed some light on them. 

    Mutual benefit in cultural collaboration?

    In the overall field of international development relations, most attention goes to economic development, which is generally ruled by the paradigm of ‘mutual benefit’. Economic development in a foreign country stimulates the domestic economy as well, and the interests of both countries seem to fully align. But what about cultural development? What is the point of supporting cultural projects in the context of international development? Can this be in the interest of The Netherlands? And what are the potential pitfalls with interfering in a foreign country’s own cultural sector?

    What are the potential pitfalls with interfering in a foreign country’s own cultural sector?
    Why international cultural support

    The world has recently learned that the famous novelist Alaa Al-Aswany was sued for ‘insulting’ the Egyptian state, and singer Sherine Abdel-Wahab detained for ‘insulting’ the Nile river. The imprisoning of Rami Sidky – who was a student in Amsterdam and accused unjustly of a contribution to a ‘satirical song’ about Egypt’s president – has reached Dutch national news. And while Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, has been changing the constitution and arranging the continuation of his presidency until at least 2030, the reports of international organizations [2] have all revealed that the increased political repression has alarming effects on Egypt’s cultural sector, the upholding of human rights and the freedom of press.

    The launch of a 2020-2030 development strategy for Egypt by its government was steeped in promises for improvement, also in the cultural sector – seemingly advocating for ‘cultural justice’. But in practice, it seems that Egypt’s cultural sector is becoming more and more state-controlled. It can be concluded that international support for Egypt’s artists is needed, considering Egypt’s shrinking political freedom and the lack of cultural infrastructure and funding. Building the cultural sector in Egypt becomes a development goal in itself, because a well-functioning and independent cultural sector is a citizens’ right and a prerequisite for the wellbeing of a society. 

    Darb el Ahmar Arts School in Egypt. Photo: Willemijn Hellenthal
    ‘What’s in it for us?’

    When talking about supporting cultural projects in the ring around Europe, one could ask: what’s in it for us? But mind you, this question cuts both ways: it is a question that can be asked by both a Dutch official and an Egyptian cultural actor. In 2016 a member of the Dutch parliament (Van Veen, VVD) asked this very question, referring to the supposed lack of opportunities for the Dutch cultural sector in collaborating with the countries that were included in objective II of Dutch ICP.[3] The purposes of the policy were always considered to be twofold: supporting the cultural sector of countries in the ring around Europe should benefit both local society ánd The Netherlands directly.

    The cultural development of a country like Egypt can only be fostered and carried out by its own society
    Dutch interests

    It remains ambiguous, however, where the emphasis of this desired impact lies: who are indeed benefiting from the cultural injection? Can a country foster cultural development in another country while following its own interests? According to the adjustment of Dutch ICP by the parliament, cultural collaboration with the countries involved in the policy should now contain a Dutch ‘component’. It is not made specific whether this component should consist of a concrete collaboration between a Dutch artist and a local cultural actor, or the inclusion of Dutch elements in cultural production.

    Still, this would mean that the Dutch government directly interferes in the cultural sector of another country, aiming to stimulate the Dutch cultural sector and create local societal impact that fits Dutch foreign interests as well. This is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the function of culture in society: culture is made, enjoyed and reflected upon by its own society first and foremost, in order to function as a ‘mirror’ to that society. When it comes to cultural development in the ring around Europe, a policy framework focusing on achieving impact in the direct interest of the donor country is therefore misguided and untenable.

    The cultural development of a country like Egypt can only be fostered and carried out by its own society. Does the Egyptian counterpart in this collaboration have anything to say about the purposes of culture in his or her own society? If indeed all cultural support for Egypt would need to be in the interest of the Netherlands, we can understand why an Egyptian artist could ask the same question that was asked by the Dutch parliament: what’s in it for us?

    Renewed cultural collaboration

    Lately there has been a vivid discussion in the Dutch development sector about sharing the ownership of the development agenda with the civil society of development countries themselves.[4] This recent step in the journey towards a true reciprocal relation in development cooperation offers some additional opportunities, especially when it comes to cultural development. Giving local counterparts the control over international support in the cultural sector of their own country would do justice to the essence of culture: it is always linked to a country’s history, traditions, strengths and limits, and above all to its people.

    More importantly, in this way both the Netherlands and the countries involved in the Dutch ICP could benefit from cultural support. In a country like Egypt, the very existence of a critical, independent cultural sector could already generate great impact on society. By engaging youth, culture helps fostering social cohesion and is able to provide a ‘mirror’ for society. This is already rightly addressed in the current policy framework of Objective II.

    Still, it remains questionable if the Dutch government perceives the value of culture in foreign society as sufficient for an investment that may not offer direct and immediate benefits for Dutch foreign interests. Yet, a good cultural sector contributes to future prospects of young people and addresses human rights, which are all long-term goals of Dutch foreign policy and considered indispensable considering the growth of authoritarian regimes in the region. And a country’s cultural sector flourishes even better when it is free from national political repression on the one hand ánd foreign meddling on the other.


    The best international support can do, is only to facilitate
    Unresolved issues

    Although rethinking the question of ownership in international cultural relations is certainly a step in the right direction, international funding in another country’s cultural sector still comes with some as yet still underexposed implications. Especially in the context of Egypt – where a well functioning cultural infrastructure cannot be taken for granted – international support may lead to undesirable power balances. And international funding remains earmarked.

    Wittingly or unwittingly, international partners could impose certain ideas about culture and its intrinsic and instrumental value on Egyptian cultural actors, with potentially troublesome results. Think of donors supporting heritage preservation without considering locally embedded functions: while restoring an old mosque for the sake of aesthetics, they tear down the shoe shop inside that played a role in the local community. Heritage is not just the ‘wonders of the world’, but only comes to life when it is about ownership by and engagement with its people.

    Also, calls for funding can be biased, already assuming certain societal problems – like radicalization, violence or societal tensions – and proposing fixed solutions to those problems, like democratization, particular human rights and progressive thinking. Yet in fact, societal development should be aimed at the local setting, not made functional for international donors. As for the transformative power of culture, we should ask ourselves: do we really get to know Egypt by only supporting its cinemas if they broadcast European movies as well? Or should we refrain from creating a Western-oriented cultural sector in a country that lacks the freedom and infrastructure to present its own image to the world? 

    Jesuits Cultural Centre in Alexandria, Egypt. Photo: Willemijn Hellenthal
    Culture as a mirror for society

    Working towards societal development by cultural means is particularly sensitive for this pitfall, because governing cultural projects in another country touches the identity of this country directly. It is important that Egyptian cultural actors experience the freedom of self-definition, even if they are funded by foreign parties. These donors indeed have a great responsibility when it comes to fostering cultural justice in Egypt: what kind of cultural activities should be supported, in order to create the infrastructure in Egypt that enables different cultural actors to have an equal chance at telling the story of their country?

    This especially holds for geographical differences in the country – between cultural hubs like Cairo and more traditional southern governorates of Egypt – as well as for societal stratification: differences in culture between traditional and progressive Egyptians. We should ask ourselves: does international funding only lead to a reinforcement of blueprint ideas of the international community about Egyptian culture and the desired societal development, all based on a biased understanding of Egyptian society? Culture can only be a mirror for society if it truly is a product of that society in the first place. The best international support can do therefore, is only to facilitate.

    In the case of Dutch-Egyptian collaboration, policy and practice meet in cultural projects that engage youth in Egyptian society
    The future of international cultural development

    International support for cultural development in countries where citizens’ right to culture is not sufficient should provide a locally embedded platform for artistic expression. This way, it is the intrinsic value of arts and culture that comes first and only subsequently makes instrumental value possible. In the case of Dutch-Egyptian collaboration, policy and practice meet in cultural projects that engage youth in Egyptian society, working towards increased social cohesion. These projects are likely to have long-term benefits for both local society and international donors.

    Young people in Egypt indeed do have a voice, and culture is a very powerful way to make sure that the stories of the Egyptian people are heard, by Egyptians themselves but also beyond its national borders. The real benefits of international cultural support in Egypt can be found in the lives of individual Egyptians and the development of a functioning, independent cultural sector in a country where cultural freedom is under siege. Hence, international support should be only of a facilitative kind, and support that which benefits local organizations and artists the most. This way, the ownership of international cultural development can tilt from international donors to local parties, which are the only ones that know what is best for their country. 

    Long-term value

    As this article already shows, questioning the value and interest of Dutch-Egyptian cultural collaboration in the context of Dutch ICP might expose a conflict between a development agenda – targeting local goals – and a diplomatic agenda – serving Dutch interests. Since cultural collaboration should transcend the (economic) aid relation that signifies most bilateral or multilateral development cooperation, it is debatable whether this policy belongs under the umbrella of the Minister of Foreign Affairs at all. Serving a development interest rather than diplomatic benefits, International Cultural Policy targeting foreign cultural development seems to naturally harmonize with the objectives beloning to the portfolio of the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

    Yet, notwithstanding the fact that cultural development of a foreign country should not be forced to directly serve Dutch interests, the long-term effects of cultural development in countries like Egypt are indeed real. And in the long run, a flourishing Egyptian society, in which the people have found their voice and can share their stories, can certainly be in the interest of The Netherlands.

    This article is written by an external author. Its content does not necessarily reflect the opinion of DutchCulture. 

    [1] Dutch ICP is carried by three Ministers: The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science and the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.  


    [3] As a result of  this political opposition, all cultural collaboration with Mali, Lebanon and the Palestinian  
       Territories has ended. Egypt, together with Morocco, Turkey and Russia, have remained in Dutch ICP.



  • A convergence of character and culture: NEDxPO2018 in South Korea

    Still/Life photo exhibition at the Korea Foundation gallery

    A convergence of character and culture: NEDxPO2018 in South Korea

    6 juni 2019
    Cultural policy officer Hajin Lee on the effects of the programme. “It was an inspiration and catalyst for broader cooperation between the two countries.”
    By Ian Yang


    Since 2017, DutchCulture has been making it possible to bundle Dutch cultural activities abroad and present them in an attractive way in interdisciplinary programmes. These programmes are developed by Dutch Embassies in the focus countries of international cultural policy in collaborations with Dutch partners. This interview with Ms. Hajin Lee, cultural policy officer of the Dutch Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, is the third in a series of interviews with the initiators of DutchCulture programmes.  

    The first-timer

    Despite long-lasting mutual interests and a good many of exchange projects in art, design and architecture, South Korea is underlined in the Netherlands’ international cultural policy for the first time since 2017. The coinciding Winter Olympics of 2018 in Pyeongchang were a main factor in this decision. “We wanted to create something more around this unique occasion, where the country is not only busy with sports but also full of cultural happenings,” Hajin Lee says. She is the first cultural policy officer at the Dutch Embassy in Seoul. “We believed that the Winter Olympics would serve as an important momentum to strengthen the Dutch cultural profile in Korea.” 

    By the end of the Olympic year 2018, 408 Dutch cultural events in South Korea were tracked – a significant annual increase by 45%. The number clearly shows the positive impact of policy, and the resulted interdisciplinary cultural programme NEDxPO2018. It is the abbreviation of NEDerland x Pyeongchang Olympics 2018, with hints of two words: ‘next’ and ‘expo’, indicating the programme’s innovative future-oriented prospect. It overarchingly promotes all Dutch-Korean cultural exchanges in South Korea before and after the Winter Olympics. However, its four main sub-projects focused on two disciplines: visual arts and urban design/architecture.

    The Embassy provided a platform to help the cultural field from both countries connect better with each other’s stories
    Strong demand

    “Up to this point, South Korean audiences have shown great interest in these disciplines,” Lee explains. South Korea’s cultural scene is dynamic, sensitive to trends, and consistently keen on expanding onto the international stage for its own promotion, and, more importantly, for exchange and collaboration with international partners. 

    The South Korean art sector recognises the Netherlands for its prestigious post-graduate institutes, such as the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten and the Jan van Eyck Academy. Arts Council Korea, the main national cultural fund, supported the country’s young talents to pursue their international career at the Rijksakademie for the past decade. 

    Also, the Dutch have a strong reputation in architecture and urban planning in South Korea. Lee: “These days, it feels even bigger with large-scale urban regeneration projects of Seoul designed by Dutch architects.” She illustrates: “For instance, the public sky garden Seoullo by Winy Maas of MVRDV and Sewoon district #4 will be renovated by KCAP Architects & Planners.” 

    Exhibition ‘Placemaking Alternatives’ at Artspace Boan

    Knowing the existing interest and potentials, the Dutch Embassy in Seoul then played the role of matchmaker for the programming of NEDxPO2018. In consultation with DutchCulture and two relevant public funds – Mondriaan Fund and Creative Industries Fund NL, Hajin Lee started by talking to the cultural network, such as Ms. Bin Kim, a Korean urban planning professor who has studied in the Netherlands and is familiar with Dutch creative industries.

    She also approached key stakeholders in South Korea’s cultural scene, like the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) and the Korea Foundation and cultural initiatives in the Netherlands looking at Korea as potential partner. “The Embassy provided a platform to help the cultural field from both countries connect better with each other’s stories, and develop their ideas into down-to-earth collaborative projects that featured NEDxPO2018.” 

    Looking back at the execution and feedback of the NEDxPO2018, Lee finds it important that the series of events reached out to a diverse and targeted group. The programme was well balanced in disciplines, project types and partner organisations. Lee: “Thanks to this diversity, general public in South Korea had a chance to enjoy and learn about Dutch contemporary photography. Meanwhile insights of Dutch art institutes in today’s dynamic art world were shared with Korean artists and museum professionals.”

    The Netherlands and Korea have a lot of similarities in their character and culture, for instance both being smaller countries but big global players in various sectors
    Broader cooperation

    The programme also proved to be timely. Placemaking Alternatives in the Netherlands, a publication and exhibition project developed by Seoul-based start-up Urban Transformer, systematically introduced successful Dutch stories and cases of urbanisation to South Korean public and policy makers. The latter have been busy with regional regeneration towards more human-oriented, green and sustainable in recent years, especially in Seoul. 

    “It served as an inspiration and catalyst for broader cooperation between the two countries,” Lee tells. She specifically mentions the exhibition venue. Artspace Boan, had opened in 1930s as an inn until 2004. It is located in the historic neighborhood around Gyeongbok Palace and it was a legendary place in Seoul where the literati, artists and other people from cultural fields stayed and worked together. Thanks to the effort of the current representative, Boan reopened a few years ago as a cultural space with exhibition hall, book store, restaurant and accommodation for artists. 

    “The rebirth makes the place a living history and accommodation of culture,” Lee introduces. It was one of her favorite venues in Seoul and she even had ‘a sort of occupational crush’ that it would be great to collaborate with Boan, especially when it comes to the subject of urban regeneration. “I believe there are no better spaces to introduce Dutch placemaking initiatives and their behind-the-scene stories than Boan. It’s such a remarkable, culturally upcycled space in Seoul and they share a lot of stories with each other. It was a perfect match in that regard. It must have appealed to the audiences as it surely did to myself.”

    The NEDxPO2018 strengthened cultural relations between makers, artists, institutions, and the Embassy. Lee emphasises that as the Embassy launched its cultural office since 2017, it is of great importance to establish a stronger position in the cultural scene of South Korea. “We are more visible now and known to important cultural target groups in Korea, which means we are expecting  more initiatives and cooperation between the Netherlands and South Korea. The Embassy is more than glad to play the role as stimulator for the cultural sector!”

    By the end of the Olympic year 2018, 408 Dutch cultural events in South Korea were tracked – a significant annual increase by 45%
    Cultural difference

    As a South Korean native, Hajin Lee studied Dutch language and culture at the university in Seoul. She has been working ‘for’ the Dutch since she graduated. For Lee, a helpful aspect at work is that the Dutch international cultural policy is very clear in its directions. “This helps me a lot to work for the Dutch government as cultural officer because the policy is a great guideline. Of course we also have to figure out the counterpart: what South Korea’s cultural scene is like, read the market, and discover its interests and demands, and to reflect on those. But as we say: ‘a good start is half the work’, Dutch international cultural policy provides a firm ground to set up a cultural strategy of the Embassy. Furthermore, I find the whole structure organic. Cultural funds, institutes and government are organically connected to one another. Most of times it is clear who to talk about a certain initiative, which organization to first consult with, and so on.”

    When it comes to cultural differences, Lee points out that in general it takes more time to develop something together with Korean, and to become partners. “In our culture, we first get to know each other better in order to work together.” She frequently advises cultural institutes in the Netherlands to first make a visit to South Korea and get acquainted with their future partners. Getting used to a bit of Korean formality in procedures might be of some practical use here, too. “But I think actually the Netherlands and Korea have a lot of similarities in their character and culture, for instance both being smaller countries but big global players in various sectors and demonstrating high efficiency in their own ways,” she says. “That is one of the reasons why I was attracted to the Netherlands and chose Dutch language as my major, and at the same time why I believe there are great potentials for cultural cooperation between the two countries.”

    Still/Life photo exhibition at the Korea Foundation gallery

    Read the first article in this series of interviews with cultural attachés with Bas Ernst in Rome. He discusses the impact of the Dutch Trail as part of art biennale Manifesta in Palermo.

    Read the second article in this series of interviews with cultural attachés: Quirine van der Hoeven on the successes and challenges of the interdisciplinary kids culture programme Genç Kültür in Turkey.

  • Vacature teamhoofd Internationaal Cultuurbeleid & Coördinatie

    Installation "Darwin" during World Design Capital 2018 In Mexico City from Atelier van Lieshout. Copyright: Dutch Embassy in Mexico City.

    Vacature teamhoofd Internationaal Cultuurbeleid & Coördinatie

    6 juni 2019
    Door vertrek van het huidige teamhoofd is DutchCulture per 1 september op zoek naar een teamhoofd Internationaal Cultuurbeleid & Coördinatie - 0,8 fte

    DutchCulture is de kennis- en netwerkorganisatie voor internationale culturele samenwerking. Daar waar cultuur, media en erfgoed grensoverschrijdend zijn, brengt DutchCulture mensen, organisaties, kennis en culturen samen. Dat doen wij in eerste instantie voor het Nederlandse culturele veld en de diplomatieke posten wereldwijd. Daarnaast werkt DutchCulture voor overheden en het internationale culturele veld.


    Door vertrek van het huidige teamhoofd is DutchCulture is per 1 september op zoek naar een Teamhoofd Internationaal Cultuurbeleid & Coördinatie - 0,8 fte. Het teamhoofd is tevens lid van het Managementteam.


    Wij zoeken voor deze functie een ervaren collega die leiding gaat geven aan een team van landenmedewerkers en erfgoed experts, alsmede aan data-analyse en monitoring. Je bent een schakel tussen DutchCulture en de Ministeries van OCW en BZ en een verbinder met de belangrijke samenwerkingspartners, zoals de rijksfondsen, de ondersteunende instellingen en de cultureel attachés. Het team Internationaal Cultuurbeleid & Coördinatie is een van de drie inhoudelijke teams van DutchCulture.


    Team Internationaal Cultuurbeleid & Coördinatie

    Het team ICB & Coördinatie zorgt ervoor dat DutchCulture haar rol als kloppend en coördinerend hart voor het Nederlands ICB kan waarmaken. Onze landenmedewerkers onderhouden continu contact met de relevante diplomatieke posten wereldwijd en de andere ICB-partners, zodat de uitvoering van het beleid goed afgestemd wordt. Het team verzamelt en analyseert gegevens van de aanwezigheid van Nederlandse makers in het buitenland. We delen onze kennis en ons netwerk met het Nederlandse en internationale culturele veld, zodat zij optimaal profiteren van alle kansen binnen het internationaal cultuurbeleid.


    Wat vragen wij

    • Ruime ervaring in een leidinggevende functie binnen een internationale context
    • Aantoonbare ervaring in samenwerking met ministerie(s) en grondige kennis van het functioneren van de overheid
    • Een uitstekend en relevant netwerk binnen de culturele sector
    • Ervaring in het leidinggeven aan een team van professionals met verschillende achtergronden
    • Een uitstekende beheersing van minimaal de Engelse en de Nederlandse taal is vanzelfsprekend
    • Kennis van monitor- en evaluatieprocessen
    • Werkervaring in het buitenland is een pre


    DutchCulture hecht als organisatie waarde aan de volgende competenties, die uiteraard ook voor het hoofd ICB & Coördinatie gelden: samenwerken, flexibiliteit, omgevingsbewustzijn en klantgerichtheid. Daarnaast gaan wij ervan uit dat het hoofd nog een aantal functiecompetenties heeft, zoals samenbindend leiderschap, culturele sensitiviteit en dat zij/hij medewerkers goed kan motiveren en hun ontwikkeling aanmoedigt en ondersteunt.


    Plaats in de organisatie

    Het hoofd maakt deel uit van het Managementteam, geeft leiding aan het team ICB & Coördinatie (13 medewerkers) en rapporteert aan de directeur/bestuurder. Bij DutchCulture werken momenteel 42 medewerkers (26 fte).


    Wij bieden:

    Wij bieden een aanstelling voor 0,8 fte (op basis van een 40-urige werkweek). Deze functie is ingeschaald op basis van het functiehuis en volgens het salarissysteem van DutchCulture en valt in schaal 1 (min € 3.800 - max € 5.000) bij een 40-urige werkweek.


    Reacties en informatie

    Reacties (motivatiebrief en cv) en/of vragen m.b.t. de wervingsprocedure kunnen tot en met 23 juni worden gericht aan DutchCulture, t.a.v. Ellen Spijkers, e-mail:, tel. 020-6164225. Voor inhoudelijke informatie over de functie kun je na 17 juni contact opnemen met Cees de Graaff (directeur)

  • The international success of 'My Extraordinary Summer with Tess': “I am Sam”

    My Extraordinary Summer with Tess. Photo: Bert Nijman. Copyright BIND

    The international success of 'My Extraordinary Summer with Tess': “I am Sam”

    6 juni 2019
    Dutch youth films are doing very well abroad. An interview with the makers of the international award-winning movie 'Tess' about how this success came about.
    By Andrea Posthuma


    It’s a typical Dutch spring day with a wishy-washy sun in a grey sky and streets shiny with rain when I cycle to the BIND office for our interview. Producer Joram Willink and director Steven Wouterlood greet me with hardly contained enthusiasm. They’ve just heard that they’ve won the Audience Award at the New York International Children’s Film Festival. They ask if we can start the interview a little bit later, so they can quickly tape a “Thank you so much” video message for the award ceremony. It’s barely seven weeks ago that My Extraordinary Summer with Tess premiered in Berlin, Germany, and in the meantime the youth film has already won three international prizes and a great and a great nomination. 

    The film is about 11-year-old Sam, who is afraid that as the youngest he will one day outlive his family and be left all alone. During a vacation, he starts on a “solitude training” he has devised for himself. On the first day he meets Tess, and learns that you should cherish your family instead of fleeing it. Tess doesn’t know her own father, never says sorry and sometimes behaves rather oddly. She has come up with a plan to get to know her father, and has one week to carry it out. She gets Sam to help her.

    I love the open-mindedness of children, it brings out an enormous energy in me
    Steven Wouterlood
    Love for family movies

    Director Steven Wouterlood and BIND have a successful history together, with many international awards including an Emmy for the short film Alles Mag (“everything goes”). When I ask how they came across Tess, Wouterlood and Willink answer in unison: “It was time to make a feature-length movie.” Given Wouterlood’s love for family films, they were looking for a suitable family film project. His aunt, writer Marjet van Cleeff, tipped them off about Anna Woltz’s book, which, however, already had several interested parties circling. But after a persuasive director’s vision and an amiable lunch meeting, the two were able to convince Anna Woltz and her publisher Querido that the book would be in good hands with BIND. 

    Photo: Bert Nijman. Copyright BIND
    Island feeling

    Laura van Dijk was asked to write the screenplay. She’d been visiting the island of Terschelling, the setting of the book, since she was a child and therefore was able to flawlessly craft the right atmosphere into the script. Dutch broadcaster VPRO, co-producer in previous collaborations, also came on board at an early stage. With the movie rights, a letter of intent from the broadcaster and the screenwriter on board, BIND then went to the Netherlands Film Fund. 

    In co-operation with Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung (MDM), the Netherlands Film Fund had just established a co-development fund for script development of original youth film proposals. For Tess to be eligible, there had to relevance for Central Germany. The book was already successfully published in Germany and the Wadden Islands are a very popular German tourist destination, so this made cooperation with Germany logical. Also, one character in the story could in theory come from another country, namely the father of Tess. During the film festival in Cannes, contact was made with the German co-producer Ostlicht, who immediately could see its potential.

    We felt quite emotional during the first editing stage, when we realized how very beautiful it was going to be
    Joram Willink

    “Thanks to the funding we received from Creative Europe MEDIA, we were able to start preproduction very early on,” says Willink. “In December 2017, after the Netherlands Film Fund selected us, we decided to do everything in our power to start shooting in the summer of 2018.” This is also the reason why casting focused on actors at least 13 years old (in the book Sam and Tess are 10 and 11). Because the legislation is slightly more flexible for child actors of that age, they had 24 shooting days with the young starring actors Sonny van Utteren (Sam) and Josephine Arendsen (Tess) at their disposal during the summer holidays.

    “I love the open-mindedness of children,” says Wouterlood. “It brings out an enormous energy in me. I love to act silly on the set, but I also approach them in a mature way and create a safe environment for them. And I get the parents involved.” Wouterlood talks about the team’s solution-driven attitude and close-knit collaboration. The extremely hot summer, the click with the actors, the beautiful light and the island’s atmosphere all contributed to this.

    “We felt quite emotional during the first editing stage,” says Willink, “when we realized how very beautiful it was going to be. You often have that feeling during the process, but because you’re so much in your own bubble you don’t always dare give it too much credit.” 

    Photo: Bert Nijman. Copyright BIND
    Tight schedule

    The production was on a very tight schedule to be able to enter it for the Berlinale, Willink explains. They asked editor Christine Houbiers to start editing during the filming already. “That we ultimately succeeded in entering the Berlinale was of course fantastic,” says Wouterlood. “During the Terschelling Film Days in November, we were waiting for the ferry back to the mainland when we received the phone call from Berlin that we were selected for Generations. I can tell you that led to quite a few bottles of champagne being cracked open on the quay!”  

    Wouterlood: “The world premiere was fantastic. There was more laughter than during the test screening; you could feel a positive vibe fizzing throughout the room. When the audience (750 people!) gave the movie a standing ovation we knew: it worked!” 

    The success is partly due to the love and care with which those films are made as well as the fact that taboos are addressed and difficult subjects are not avoided
    Success factors

    American entertainment magazines Variety and Screen gave the movie favourable reviews. Variety even proclaimed Steven Wouterlood one of the ten biggest European talents to make a definitive international breakthrough in 2019. My Extraordinary Summer with Tess has since been sold to several countries and the film is heading to cinemas in France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Taiwan. 

    So what are the reasons for its success? First, the story is very universal. But because the setting is quintessentially Dutch at the same time, the film has an exotic appeal for other countries, which gives it international allure and potential. The unexpected plot twists and humour also contribute to the success. In Berlin the jury praised the film with a Special Mention for being a unique story that very tactfully deals with mortality and loss. Wouterlood: “In Zagreb, at the Q&A after the film, a young boy raised his hand and said: ‘I just want to say that I feel just like Sam, I often feel alone, I am Sam’. This was met with a thunderous applause from the room. That’s when you really know what it’s all for. Those follow-up sessions with the audience are so valuable.”

    Photo: Bert Nijman. Copyright BIND
    More Dutch film successes

    Quite a few famous Dutch children’s books have been filmed with great success, such as Dikkertje Dap, which premiered at the Berlinale in 2017, and Abeltje, Minoes, Brief voor de Koning (Letter for the King) and Oorlogsgeheimen (War Secrets). The success is partly due to the love and care with which those films are made as well as the fact that taboos are addressed and difficult subjects are not avoided. 

    What’s more, there’s a lot going on in the Netherlands in the field of international film education. Eye’s Cinemini, for example, brings young children, two to six years old, into contact with European film through short films and interactive workshops in order to stimulate the development of creativity and critical thinking. There is also the Wrap! project where Cinekid and different European partners are working on a catalogue of European films for children, and developing educational materials to accompany them. Cinekid is one of the largest children’s media festivals in the world. In the Westergas in Amsterdam and almost 40 other locations in the Netherlands, children can watch new, special and eye-catching films and television productions during the autumn holiday and go on a discovery tour in the MediaLab.


    •    Winner Special Mention of the International Jury 2019, Berlinale, Berlin, Germany
    •    Nomination for GWFF Best First Feature Award 2019, Berlinale, Berlin, Germany
    •    Winner Audience Award 2019, KinoKino International Film Festival, Zagreb, Kroatia
    •    Winner Audience Award 2019, New York International Children’s Film Festival, New York, USA
    •    Winner Grand Prix Jury Award 2019, Kaliningrad International Film Festival, Kaliningrad, Russia
    •    Winner Audience Award 2019, Kaliningrad International Film Festival, Kaliningrad, Russia
    •    Winner Children Jury Award 2019, Kristiansand International Children’s Film Festival, Kristiansand, Norway


    My Extraordinary Summer with Tess premiers in Dutch cinemas July 3 2019. 

    The film was partly supported by the Creative Europe MEDIA Program

    Netherlands Film Fund
    Ostlicht Filmproduktion
    Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung
  • i-Portunus second round of mobility funding pilot programme: now open for applications

    i-Portunus second round of mobility funding pilot programme: now open for applications

    3 juni 2019
    With 1.222 valid applications received from the first call, the i-Portunus launched its second call for applications of its mobility funding pilot programme.

    Like the first call, the second call is open to artists active in performing arts and visual arts only (including sectors such as digital arts, design and fashion). The duration of the travel/exchange must be between 15 and 85 days, should depart earliest July 25, 2019 and should return latest December 31, 2019. The available funding per applicant is between € 1.500 and € 3.400, depending on the length of your mobility. The submission deadline is June 24th 2019.

    The second round of the i-Portunus mobility pilot programme offers two novelties. Aside from applying as an individual, the programme now also accepts group applications. Also, it is now possible to apply for a segmented mobility, meaning that you will travel several times, to one or several destinations for the same project (not for different projects).

    More information on applying can be found at the i-Portunus website. i-Portunus is managed by a consortium headed by the Goethe-Institut with Institut français, Izolyatsia and the Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts.   

    Institut français
    Goethe Institut
    Nida Art Colony
  • Masterclass for the Dutch fashion sector by Atelier Néerlandais: “Paris is still the place to be for designers”

    Network meeting at Atelier Néerlandais (photo: Atelier Néerlandais)

    Masterclass for the Dutch fashion sector by Atelier Néerlandais: “Paris is still the place to be for designers”

    31 mei 2019
    The Atelier Néerlandais celebrates this June its fifth year anniversary. Time to highlight future ambitions.
    By Lisa Grob


    Five years ago the Atelier Néerlandais opened its doors in Paris as successor of the Institut Néerlandais. At the time, the closing of the Institut Néerlandais caused a considerable commotion in the Dutch-French cultural and diplomatic world. Thus, although welcomed, the creation of the Atelier was set in turbulent times and opinions and expectations were divided. By now, however, the Atelier has grown into the platform par excellence for the Dutch creative and cultural sector in Paris. For the future, the Atelier Néerlandais has new ambitious plans.  

    Masterclasses in the Netherlands
    One of the new initiatives is Atelier Néerlandais hors les murs. The Atelier wishes to be more active in the Netherlands by organizing masterclasses for the Dutch design and fashion sectors. Last April, the first masterclass was held in Amsterdam specifically for Dutch fashion brands that want to bring their practice to Paris. These masterclasses are meant to give more insight into what is actually important in the French equivalent sectors at the moment, indicate where Dutch organizations could go in the first place, as well as making them ‘market ready’ in general. For many disciplines Paris still forms the steppingstone for an international career. For this first masterclass the Atelier invited 'fashion therapist' Patricia Lerat from Paris. In individual professionalization sessions she advised the Dutch brands on their strategies. 

    'Fashion therapist' Patricia Lerat at Waag Society in Amsterdam (photo: Carolien van Tilburg)

    The Dutch brands Stoop & Peterson, Bono van Peursem, IRVINX, Saskia ter Welle and Berry Rutjes Jr. signed up for the masterclass of Lerat. Questions that were discussed varied from how do I enter the French market and how to choose the right focus to how to choose the price range for my product and how can my brand grow in a responsible (sustainable) way. During a two-hour-long coaching sessions the participants were provided with tailor-made advice. They were all very pleased with Lerat’s personal approach, and they could implement her advice immediately. 

    Lerat has some general advice for brands that wish to enter the French market as well: “Build a collection that differs in product and image,” she says. A strong image is important to promote your product on social media, but it is also essential to find a so called showroom within Paris. Recently a shift has occurred in the way products are shown during Paris fashion weeks. From the large exhibition locations such as Première Classe, Who’s Next and Tranoï, international buyers nowadays prefer to meet and see brands and designers in small-scale and more intimate showrooms. 

    These showrooms, however, won’t admit you if you don’t have a good (product) story. And it is already hard to find the right one without a local network. Lerat’s most pressing advice is therefore: “Create an event or a party, because buzz is a fashion accelerator. As Paris is still the place to be for designers in terms of visibility and credibility,” she says, "designers need to build a strategy and make choices in their use of tools and events.” 

    From Institut to platform
    The masterclasses serve a second purpose, next to empowering Dutch organisations in their march towards France. The other reason needs some contextualisation. From day one, the Atelier Néerlandais chose to take a different course then the Institut Néerlandais. Where the latter concentrated mainly on presenting Dutch cultural outings, by organizing literary soirées, expositions and performances, the Atelier wanted to become a platform facilitating cooperation and network building between Dutch and French organisations. 

    Carolien van Tilburg, coordinator of the Atelier Néerlandais du premier jour, is satisfied with the achievements of the Atelier so far: “From all the commotion surrounding the closing of the Institut Néerlandais, the team has succeeded in creating a meeting place for the Dutch cultural and creative sector in Paris.” The major change: the setting up of a membership system. For only 150 euros a year, Dutch artists and organisations can become a member of the Atelier. Membership includes usage of the light, white space to work, give presentations to local peers, or organizing network meetings. The low price gives artists and creatives of different sorts a fair chance to explore the French market.



    Dutch artist Victor de Bie at work in the Atelier, team Iris van Herpen at work (photos: Atelier Néerlandais) and designs by Iris van Herpen during Paris Fashion Week in June 2018 (photo: Lisa Grob)

    Carolien van Tilburg on the balcony of the Atelier Néerlandais (photo: Team Peter Stigter)

    Accessible and open
    With that, the Atelier Néerlandais has become an accessible, open platform and a unique initiative in the diplomatic world. Van Tilburg: “It’s foremost a meeting place, but content always comes first. We give everyone a chance, but it is ‘plug and play’ and it is really to members themselves to seize their opportunities. This is a very new and singular thing within the world of Embassies.”

    However, the members of the Atelier rarely know each other. Considering the fact that members all share one specific interest, which is France, the possibility to meet the other members has been a recurring question. Knowing the other members could contribute to realizing joint projects in France. The masterclasses thus also function as a means to meet the other Dutch members. 

    Sustainability and innovation in the fashion sector
    The Atelier and its members form a sort of Dutch community in Paris. However, the Atelier is definitely not inward-looking, as it searches actively for cooperation opportunities between Dutch and French organisations: “The past five years the Atelier has developed its antenna function to be able to detect developments in France that offer opportunities for the Netherlands. Especially regarding fashiontech and innovative textiles there is a lot of interest,” says Van Tilburg. Whenever possible, members can make use of the Ateliers’network in Paris and France.  

    Amongst members, many are active in the fashion industry. This sector is – worldwide – more and more criticised for its production processes. Innovation in the use of recycled materials, the environmental-friendly colouring of fabrics or the application of (bio)waste as material are generating attention in the Netherlands as well as in France. The two countries are complementary in these domains, according to Van Tilburg.

    Fabrics from organic materials at Biotech:Numerique exhibition (photo: Lisa Grob)


    Find an overview of activities and possibilities of the Atelier Néerlandais here


    Atelier Néerlandais
  • Culture in the European Union elections

    Screenshot of Loving Vincent, a movie supported by the EU

    Culture in the European Union elections

    21 mei 2019
    Tomorrow the European Parliament elections will take place in the Netherlands. Kunsten '92 provided an overview of Dutch party programs on culture.

    Tomorrow the European Parliament elections will take place, also in the Netherlands. Members of the European Parliament have a lot of influence on what the coming EU programs and budgets will look like. These programs, which will run from 2021 to 2027, will be decided at the end of this year. Kunsten '92 provided an overview of positions of Dutch political parties on culture.

    European Cultural Foundation, Culture Action Europe and Arts '92 have recently established the Europe platform to reflect on how EU policy works for the cultural sector in the Netherlands and how the alignment of EU policy with Dutch policy on culture could be improved. This includes both Creative Europe and other EU programs such as Horizon 2020, Erasmus +, mobility programs and the Structural Funds. In a letter to Minister van Engelshoven, the culture sector emphasized the importance of European programs and resources for culture. DutchCulture is one of the co-signers.

  • Children from around the world enjoy Dutch arts and culture: a sunday afternoon with 'Glimpse'

    Performance Glimpse by Oorkaan. Photo: Ronald Knapp

    Children from around the world enjoy Dutch arts and culture: a sunday afternoon with 'Glimpse'

    4 juni 2019
    Experiencing DutchCulture with a foreign audience: the Never Grow Up! programme in the United States. Renske Ebbers visited 'Glimpse' by Oorkaan in New York.
    By Renske Ebbers


    In May, I was on a working visit to the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York. Sunday, May 12th I arrived at JFK airport and immediately made my way to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Even though the city was caught in heavy rains, a large crowd of parents and children assembled at the BAM Fisher stage to experience Dutch performing arts: the staged concert Glimpse by Oorkaan.

    For me, working in Amsterdam for DutchCulture as an advisor on Dutch international cultural policy in the United States, what was about to happen was an amazing and rare opportunity. At DutchCulture we advise on, promote and collect activities from Dutch cultural organisations in all disciplines. More than 15 thousand exhibitions, talks, performances or collaborative projects from Dutch hands travel the world each year. Needless to say that we usually follow these activities from afar in our Amsterdam office, but here I was on a Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn, ready to experience one of the thousands of Dutch activities in my excel sheets, in real life.

    Glimpse, Oorkaan. Photo: Ronald Knapp
    Children are very excited by complexity, because there is much more to discover for them compared to the simple and boring
    Oorkaan in the international spotlight

    In today’s spotlight is the cultural organisation Oorkaan. Oorkaan creates high quality and enticing staged concerts for young audiences and is no stranger to the world stage. Founded in 2000 they have dedicated themselves to bringing classical music in a way that children will listen, really listen, by using theatrical elements. They connect theatre directors and musicians to experiment and create together, always keeping the music central to their work. This ‘Oorkaan method’ that has been developed over the years, has enabled them to do something unique in the theatre and music field as well as the arts and culture field for children of the Netherlands. It makes them a welcome guest at international stages. In an interview with Moon Saris for the Performing Arts journal de Theatermaker, Oorkaan’s director Caecilia Thunnissen and Head Internationalisation Erin Coppens explain: "Parents and teachers decide that children will not like it [classical music, ed.] That is total rubbish. Children are very excited by complexity because there is much more to discover for them, compared to the simple and boring. They do need something, to really be drawn into the music, and it is our job to find those doors and windows to give them access, to enable them to really listen to the music."

    Some parents are explaining modern art theories and the essence of jazz to their four-year-olds, some are dancing and acting like four-year-olds
    Opening doors and windows for the tiny children

    Back to Brooklyn, Sunday afternoon. I am standing among the American audience, with its different cultural backgrounds, that is about to experience the Dutch performance Glimpse by Oorkaan. We are asked to put off our shoes and sit in the white landscape before the cushions. Behind the cushions, the percussionist Rob Kloet and violone player Tony Overwater await the children. Live-illustrator Bram de Goeij, who invited us into the room by connecting his melodica to the little lightbulb above his head - the more sound the brighter the lightbulb - takes his place behind his table from which he will visually accompany the musicians with live drawings during the concert. In doing so, he is opening doors and windows for the tiny children, mesmerized from start to finish by the drumbeats and low tones of the violone evolving into projected lights, chasing each other, competing with each other, and eventually shining brightly together as the instruments interweave in triumphant tunes, performing a concert whose complexity is greatly enjoyed by the young audience.

    Children are intuitively impressed with live performance; they whisper, they think everything is "Magic!" and they don´t differentiate between the world on stage and their own reality. In this Oorkaan performance, however, they are not completely sucked into the performance; it is not a story but an abstract variation of scenes, sounds and animations. This gives the children the opportunity to sometimes check out and reflect, what does this sudden change mean; why is the bass purple, where did the big bright sun of the drums go? It is great to see the children under a spell in one moment, dancing and enjoying the concert in the next, and suddenly critically evaluating and reflecting upon these nonlinear events. The tiny children are not entertained, drawn into a princess story, nor educated about instruments, they are stimulated to think and feel for themselves.

    The lack of a story in this performance and its minimal animations enable the listener to concentrate on the joint playfulness of the violone and the drum. The music is worth listening to and the little children are worth being taken seriously once they are given an entry into the music they dive into, questioning and enjoying their experiences along the way.

    Glimpse, Oorkaan. Photo: Ronald Knapp
    Not just for the children

    The children, even if they are coming from different backgrounds, show very similar behaviours and reactions, whilst the parents’ reactions vary greatly. Some are explaining modern art theories and the essence of jazz to their four-year-olds, some are dancing and acting like four-year-olds. A sharp-suited father tries to read the program to his daughter and other parents are caught in the spell of the performance themselves, forgetting about their toddlers on the edge of the cushion wall. After the performance, I talked to live-animator and director Bram de Goeij about performing as a Dutch organisation abroad, and I asked whether the reactions were different in China, Italy or Germany? De Goeij: "The children always react the same way, engaging and enjoying the performances. The parents accompanying them, however, can be very different on one side of the world or the other." From disciplining their children to remaining seated and silent, to encouraging them to touch the instruments and run around, Bram has experienced the cultural differences. Maybe Dutch Youth Arts abroad is not just about children after all.

    As I stepped out of the theatre, the rain was still pouring down, yet I felt very happy with my experience. I know that many more Dutch music, theatre, dance, film, interactive media and literature expressions will be shared with young and eager audiences in the United States in this focus year 2019 during Never Grow Up!, and much more in the years to come. At the Kennedy Centre in Washington, at the Brooklyn Book Festival, and during the national tour of the New York International Children’s Film Festival, foreign audiences will be able to experience Dutch Youth Arts. A universal experience apparently, unique nevertheless, and I hope everyone will enjoy it as much as I did.

    Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Minister Blok launches the publication ‘Information & inspiration: the impact of cultural diplomacy’

    Minister Blok launches the publication ‘Information & inspiration: the impact of cultural diplomacy’ at the premisses of DutchCulture. Photo: BZ - Aad Meijer

    Minister Blok launches the publication ‘Information & inspiration: the impact of cultural diplomacy’

    22 mei 2019
    The new publication highlights examples of best practices that could serve as inspirational tools for cultural diplomacy.
    By Bojana Panevska


    The Dutch government, with its foreign policy and its international cultural policy, supports artists, cultural institutions and the creative industries to strengthen the Dutch profile abroad and establish a good position for the cultural and creative sector. Therefore, the publication Information & inspiration: the impact of cultural diplomacy, which is a co-production of DutchCulture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offers inspiring examples and also provides information about Dutch and worldwide organisations, whose work has been highly valuable in the past years.

    It includes 21 examples of cultural projects done on invitation from the Dutch embassies located in countries around the world, among which are Cuba, Slovakia, Canada, Colombia and Spain, and 17 international projects by different artists or artistic collectives.

    Inspirational tools for cultural diplomacy
    The publication highlights examples of best practices that could serve as inspirational tools for cultural diplomacy. These examples illustrate the connection between culture and other international policy goals. Very often, culture and art can align with certain political objectives, since the policy goals from the government vary from strengthening the international legal order and respect for human rights to sustainable development, food security, water and climate to social progress and multilateral cooperation and bilateral dimension, to just name a few. That’s why Dutch embassies abroad support Dutch arts and culture and also find a common niche with some of the political goals.

    Major impact
    The informative part of the publication consists of a list of 95 Dutch organisations with focus on various disciplines and a list of 40 international organisations divided by continents. The selection of these organisations was made on basis of giving an overview of the variety of organisations, institutions, foundations etc. in the Dutch and international field. Due to the vastness of the field, this selection is by no means final. Rather, it is a stepping stone towards further research.

    Scrolling through the content of the publication it becomes obvious that artists and other in the cultural sector can have a major impact on the world by finding and organising cultural activities that help address or discuss societal challenges. And that the embassies’ diplomatic work plays an essential role, as a transitional force between the world of art and culture and the global political system.

    The publication was launched on May 22 by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok.


    Policy goals in ‘Information & inspiration: the impact of cultural diplomacy’
    Assemble is a multi-disciplinary collective working across the fields of architecture, design and art, and one of the cases in the publication. Photo courtesy of Assemble.