A member of the VVD claims: less Concertgebouw, more floral parade


"At The Hague, it seems that there is only a high culture, it's itchy." This was said by parliament member Thierry Aartsen (VVD) on Friday morning de Volkskrant in order to consolidate my call for more money from the Culture Fund for "people's culture".

As an example he mentioned a floral parade that would receive zero euros in subsidies – as opposed to Concertgebouw. "You should be fairer," says Aartsen. According to him, € 7 million will be spent in Concertgebouw – with 210,000 visitors a year – and the floral parade will not receive any support from the euro government, which would attract one million people in one day. With this difficult comparison, Aartsen, a Dutch parliamentarian who arrived two months ago, took the lead in the cultural budget he will discuss on Monday in the lower house.

The comparison between Concertgebouw and the flourishing parade caused a lot of resistance on Friday. Because it's true?

President Willem Heemskerk on the flower parade in Bollenstreek (which takes place in Noordwijk, Lisse and Haarlem, amongst others) agrees that he does not receive a subsidy. He is pleased with Aartsens' intention to give more financial support to "low culture". The flower parade in Bollenstrak can keep the head above water, financially, says Heemskerk. As a result, in his opinion, every year it is a great task to continue the corset. I would like more subsidies because of "experience and continuity".

Heemskerk: "We are now dependent on volunteers and we have only one employee." The help of the municipality is that municipalities that drive by car are often "buying" floats, just like businesses, he says. "In addition, the municipality regulates security – we have a route of 42 kilometers – and the stalls are arranged. We pay for this, but the municipalities contribute through the roads."

No euro

This zero euro for the corso is correct. But what Aartsen says about Concertgebouw in Amsterdam is wrong; this is exactly the same amount from The Hague: zero euros. Five percent of the income comes from the municipality of Amsterdam.

And Concertgebouw attracts more than three times as many visitors as Aartsen claims. The Concertgebouwa Annual Report in 2017 states that this year there were 727,347 visitors. In a tweet, Concertgebouw wrote on Friday that visitors could go to 700 different concerts.

Concertgebouw is, like a floral parade, largely dependent on sponsors and the public. At Concertgebouw, this happens in the form of, for example, Robeco concerts. On a floral parade, companies sponsoring navigation and companies make it possible for pilots to set up floats.

Aarsten wanted to show a new course with his comparison. Since it does not want more money for folk culture, but also a structural shift from subsidies to national professional institutions to regional amateur initiatives, some CDA coalition partners have been advocating for some time.

Also read the interview with Halbe Zijlstra on cultural savings in 2011: It was not comfortable, it was necessary

Culture is not necessarily top-notch, but it needs to be broadly supported, it seems to be a vision. According to Aartsen de Volkskrant: "Culture is about excitement, brotherhood, challenge, then there is no difference between corso and ballet."

This is a step further for the line with which Halbe Zijlstra began as the State Secretary for Culture. In 2011, Zijlstra received a lot of criticism when he talked about a "subsidized infusion" of the government that the cultural authorities could survive. He saved € 200 million for a subsidy of € 490 million and obliged cultural institutions to become more "entrepreneurial".

Zijlstra has saved superb performances, Aartsen now directs his arrows to Concertgebouw and opera, while "150 guards and guilds who want beautiful costumes".


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