There is a lot going on (or should I say wrong) in the Netherlands nowadays. I have been a bit quiet lately, thinking a lot about what I can do to help make things right again. I am still working on that. Today, in the whole of the Netherlands, there will be a “yell for culture” (“schreeuw om cultuur”). That translation probably sucks, but let me tell you about what it means.
In the Netherlands, as in any human community, culture plays an important role. You cannot think of a community without culture. Whether you think of it as a good or a bad thing, humans always bring their culture to a community. The new government has decided that the VAT on “culture” (let’s not go into the different defenitions right now) will rise from 6% to 19% starting January the 1st 2010. Apart from that fact, which will hurt everybody who produces art, wants to buy or see art (from paintings to theatre and all things in between), the government has also decided that a lot of important cultural institutes in the Netherlands will lose their financial support.
You can like this or not. It is not surprising the cultural sector itself dislikes this action. Yet it is not (only) about the money. The problem is much bigger. If you ask me personally, it is not entirely a bad thing to rethink the financial support for instance. But, if you do so, you can’t at the same time expect people to be more reliant on “the market”, ánd raise the VAT by 13%, with 5 weeks notice. This is just plain rediculous. Apart from this fact, the government is sending the message that there is something wrong with culture, while in fact there is probably something wrong with the government and even the whole world.
So this is, summarized, why the Netherlands will be yelling for culture today. I am not sure if I will join yet. Even though these measures will affect me personally, there are things that hurt me much more, and I don’t know why people aren’t yelling for those. The same government is ruining society by dividing classes. I sometimes wonder if we will sort of relive the ’80s. There is racism, which is nowadays stated as a positive thing. There is the degeneration of the healthcare system. There are huge corporations taking adventage of the average men, and they do get financial support from the government. Educations is getting more (too) expensive, while quality is deteriorating fast. As long as we aren’t, I am not, yelling against these things, I am ashamed to “yell for culture”. This used to be a country where all was well, most certainly in retrospective. Healthcare, education, a basic living: all was provided for all, while at the same time there was freedom for all. I don’t want to go back to that time, I think we could do even better.
Art and culture are a necessity in order to get people to think, and take action. So maybe it IS appropiate to yell for culture first? I am not sure yet, what are your thoughts?