Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dutch Deal or "Your vote matters!"

People in general often naively think that --in the grand scheme of things-- their vote does not really matter and so they might as well use it to express their discontentment and sanction the current governing structures (sic!) They also forget that such reasoning falls right into the hands of extreme right movements whose members are never in doubts when it comes to supporting their [demagogic] leaders.

How bad the consequences of such a flawed logic can be is felt these days in Holland. Time magazine deals with this in more details, but the future for arts and culture looks bleak.

The Netherlands' State Secretary of Culture, Halbe Zijlstra (also member of the VVD, extreme right party) won that spot at the last fall's elections, and is now trying to approximate the (insane) program of the president of his party, Geert Wilders, who suggested the current governmental funding to arts and culture should be slashed from €800 million down to €200 million. Considered insane at first, the threat started to become a living nightmare: on Friday morning, June 10th 2011, the Dutch art and cultural institutes received a mail from their Minister of Culture informing them that the abrupt  €200 million cut in subsidies for art and culture was imminent and should be effective starting from January 2013.

Many still thought this was not serious but the menace is more real than ever. One of the first victims of the cuts would be the famous Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra -- yes, the same orchestra that 3-4 years ago recorded one of the best Lohengrin ever.

You cannot do much, but signing one of the petitions circulating on the Internet cannot harm.

Kent Nagano decided to join the supporters -- see video below:

For more information see Tom Service's excellent blog or ArtInfo blog.


  1. Much as I appreciate the sentiment, Cake, there's a few inaccuracies in this post. While Halbe Zijlstra (also behind the infamous 6000 euro-per-annum penalty scheme for university students who take too long to finish, by the way) is indeed in the VVD, Geert Wilders heads the PVV. VVD is an economically liberal, socially conservative old boys' network who until recently were very careful to pay lip service to the country's cultural capital. By contrast, PVV have always taken pride in their anti-intellectualism and aversion to such "leftist hobbies" as the performing arts and, indeed, higher education.

    That said, yes, it's godawful. Thinking of what's to come, I almost feel guilty for having been able to enjoy so much of what, by the looks of it, will now be lost.

  2. Sorry Blue... your comment was for some strange reason in the spam box.

    Thank you for that precision. Will fix it!

    As for the outrageous cuts in culture, I am not surprised they are happening [some subsidized programs definitely deserve to go], but to hit so abruptly everything across the board, that's really bad. It started in the Netherlands but the trend will soon spread all over Europe. Just wait and see!