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«Once again 21:21 | Front | 111 pages 028-030 »

March 08, 2003
NY or NL?

One sly confusing little detail about getting the meat of the Sunday New York Times on Saturday, as all subscribers do, is that I can not really point you to articles that excite on the day when I read them. Hmm, I could just wait, or write my own things, but there are just tiny little gems one needs to share. So... there will be an article in the New York Times tomorrow, written by Andras Szanto, called:"The Dutch Give the Arts A Dash of (Cold) Water." (Yes, capital A.) The article made me want to move to Old Amsterdam even more, though I will probably stay in New Amsterdam for the rest of my life.
But please just take a look at these numbers: "The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science's staggering $21 billion budget is the largest of any Dutch government agency. Adjusted to population size, it's roughly equivalent to the military budget of the United States." (Imagine that!) and... "The culture ministry spends $400 million a year directly to the arts ? about $25 for every Dutch citizen. By comparison, the National Endowment for the Arts' budget is $115 million ? 40 for every American. Even the most generous estimates of federal expenditures on culture (that includes monument conservation at the Forestry Service) barely surpass $7 per American." Now one could certainly point out that Americans have more of a philanthropy system in place and that private institutions and funds give to the arts much more freely than the Dutch do, or ever will. Indeed cultural philanthropy in the United States is estimated at $12 billion, but even combined... well, you get the idea. It gets better. "Cities in the Netherlands lavish even more than the central government. The arts budget of Amsterdam (population 720,000) is roughly three and a half times the current budget of the Arts Council of California (Population 35 million). For every dollar New York City spends on the arts per capita, Amsterdam spends three."
The article goes on to describe the change of these allocations in the Netherlands, and actually across Europe towards the American, seemingly "more efficient" direction, of course, but just the idea of artists being able to "work for up to four years and receive social security (these days without any obligation to hand in any art)," and dancers who are no longer able to perform being "eligible for three-year retraining grants." Sounds truly fantastic even with the background of the Netherlands having some of the highest tax rates in Europe.
It is just a really great article by Andreas Szanto, who is deputy director of the national arts journalism program at Columbia University.


Maybe this could be a new feature for blogs. Instead of the Friday Five, or their like, bloggers could start offline news summaries of early material - in effect, beating the online versions of each paper to their own news. Maybe, just maybe, that would teach them for forcing us all to register for their sites.

Or not. Probably too much typing. :-)

Posted by: Charles on March 9, 2003 12:12 AM

On the downside, the Dutch government stops giving support to an increasing number of orchestras & theatre groups each year, large ones too. It's a strange, lopsided balance, I suppose. Are there too many professional art companies in the Netherlands? Is the government making quality decisions here? Or are we just spoiled? Take your pick. :)

P.S. And by all means, do move to Old Amsterdam! It's great here! :)

Posted by: Meike on March 10, 2003 03:46 PM
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