This research project is a direct response to the 2020 coalition agreement of CDA, VVD, FvD, and Lokaal Brabant in which the art and culture portfolio was abolished, and to the discussion that has arisen as a result.
Reactions of the opposition (and various public actions) have since resulted in the coalition of VVD, CDA, FvD, and Lokaal Brabant making a concession. The ‘Leisure’ portfolio has been renamed ‘Leisure, Culture and Sport’.
We’re forced to conclude that there are two almost antagonistic positions: on the one hand the ‘populists’ who devalue art and culture to a hobby (and therefore place it under the portfolio ‘leisure’) and on the other hand an ‘elite’ who proclaim institutional art and culture (organised largely by themselves) principally as valuable by definition. This research project is a quest for the discourse that is able to look beyond this polarisation. Not by stating what art should be, but rather what it could bring about. A broad empirical research trajectory – establishing contact, building trust, creating dialogue or guided confrontation, analysis of the discourse – could begin to break through the current unproductive confrontation.
What is the significance and value of art and culture for the quality and fabric of social life in the province of Brabant?
The removal of art and culture from the coalition agreement is of course a dramatic signal. However, such a radical step does not appear from nowhere. In recent years, politics and the (institutional) art world have evidently failed to effectively conduct the social debate about the role of art and culture. This can be seen in the discussion that has now broken out across the Netherlands: the assertions of the ‘elite’ rarely reach ‘the citizen’. Where the ‘elite’ see art and culture as a positive factor, citizens mainly see adverse effects, such as gentrification and the devaluation of popular culture through cutbacks and the takeover of urban space by the generic culture of an international (or internationally oriented) creative class. This problem is certainly not unique to Brabant, but has everything to do with a national policy that assesses the value of art and culture almost exclusively on the basis of market valorisation. However, we are convinced that the province of Brabant can re-mobilise its historical role as a cultural region by becoming the province that has raised the social dialogue about the meaning and value of art and culture to a new and constructive level.
Ongoing project, started May 2020.
Other researchers involved
Avans University of Applied Sciences