Bring it on! – a look back

On 8 June 2023, the Fund organized Bring it on!. At this session, almost 100 attendees – advisers, applicants and Fund staff – engaged in a discussion about where we are with the Fund and where we want to go. How does the Fund function? What is our position? And what ambitions do we have for 2025 and beyond? A look back.

2023 is an important year for the cultural and creative sector. The Council for Culture is working on a vision for the future, the visitation committee is assessing the functioning of the national culture funds and state secretary Gunay Uslu recently presented the principles for 2025-2028. Over the next six months, the Fund will work on a new policy plan on that basis. In doing so, we involve the field wherever possible. To start that conversation, we organized a new edition of Bring it on!. The purpose of the session, as Syb Groeneveld, executive director of the Fund explained, was to ‘gather as much feedback and ideas as possible that we can take into account when writing the policy plan and grant schemes for 2025-2028.’

Besides a plenary session led by Marsha Simon, the afternoon consisted of four short thematic sessions and an open session in which those present could suggest their own topics.

Head of subsidy Joris van Ballegooijen during the session about the application process. Photo: Lizzy van Zaanen.

alleviating the application process

In the session on alleviating the application process, we first explained the various dilemmas involved. The workload for staff, advisers and ultimately applicants as well is increasing. If the number of applications continues to grow, the current procedures will not be sustainable in the long run. How can the pressure be alleviated without compromising the quality of assessment?

This session’s discussion covered improving the connection between the grant schemes, the guidelines and the online application environment. Phased application, where a proposal is first reviewed in a light form, is often seen as an option to alleviate the pressure. The project canvas currently being experimented with is predominantly seen as positive. More fixed formats, for example for budgets, and clear communication are common wishes. The question was also asked as to whether the culture funds could not achieve more coordination among themselves.

Noud van de Rhee during the session about fair pay. Photo: Lizzy van Zaanen.

fair pay

De sessie over fair pay draaide om de vraag hoe het fonds ervoor kan zorgen dat dit principe op een consequente en constructieve manier wordt toegepast en beoordeeld. Voor deze sessie was Noud van de Rhee uitgenodigd om namens Platform ACCT een korte introductie te geven op de ontwikkelingen richting de implementatie van de Fair Practice Code binnen de sector.

Er is gesproken over het beleidsvoornemen om fair pay in 2025 binnen de culturele sector te verplichten. Wat voor bandbreedte past hier in de praktijk bij? Kan het fonds naast een maximale bijdrage aan het uurtarief ook een minimumtarief invoeren? En wat betekent dit voor de verschillende disciplines die het fonds bedient? Over het algemeen is men van mening dat de tijd van vergoedingen in de vorm van ‘voldoening’ achter ons ligt. Dat daarmee bepaalde projectvormen of initiatieven misschien onbetaalbaar worden, wordt gezien als een gegeven.

Noor Sloterdijk during her session about diversity and inclusion. Photo: Lizzy van Zaanen.

diversity & inclusion

The session on diversity and inclusion looked back at the experiences of advisers and applicants with the criterion used for this in the project grant schemes. Experiences with the code were also discussed. The session was led by Sarita Bajnath. Guest was Noor Sloterdijk, contact person for the Diversity & Inclusion Code at the LKCA.

The session argued that the code is a self-reflective element that unfortunately does not explain what a good approach is to organizing diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion is not something to be complied with, but something that enriches you as a human being in this world. It would therefore make sense for the Fund to maintain an ongoing dialogue with supported parties on this subject, reflecting together with them on the goals set in the application and achieving them. The code is there to provide guidance. This does not mean that everyone has to do everything, but thinking about and doing something with one of the goals endorsed by the code is really the minimum. The session further revealed that a more transparent and clear vision by the Fund on diversity and inclusion would be appreciated. Applicants indicate they would like more clarity on how they can contribute to diversity and inclusion in their proposals and what they will be assessed on.

Activist Chris Julien about sustainability. Photo: Lizzy van Zaanen.


The subject of sustainability was explicitly mentioned for the first time in the Council for Culture’s advice. This session considered the role of the creative industries in the climate and biodiversity crisis, and what the Fund’s responsibility is in encouraging greater sustainability in the field. This session was kicked off by scientist and activist Chris Julien.

Everyone seems to agree on the urgency of the climate and biodiversity crisis. Participants wonder why public money would still be spent on unsustainable projects in this day and age. However within this context, there is a conversation to be had on how sustainability should play a role in the assessment process. There is code fatigue among some parties and the fear that having to comply with different codes will hinder artistic performance in the long run. As a result, there is a greater appetite for integrating sustainability in project proposals and in its own programme, than for drafting a new code, which could also lead to ‘greenwashing’. Those present expect the Fund to, at any rate, raise the visibility of the crisis, set an example itself and be aware of the influence and potential of the creative industries.

The audience of Bring it on!. Photo: Lizzy van Zaanen.

open mic

In the final session, the attendees could suggest their own topics, to which director Syb Groeneveld responded directly from the position of the Fund. Here there were discussions about reaching new target groups, the position of architecture centres, the continued development of supported projects, the role of the Fund with regard to more sectoral tasks such as knowledge-sharing, and the Fund’s position with regard to current inflation and the possible decline in funding through local governments.

The afternoon ended with everyone together for a wrap-up. After the summer, the Fund will organize several sessions that will be used as input for the 2025-2028 policy plan to be written.

Photos by Lizzy Zaanen

The audience of Bring it on!. Photo's: Lizzy van Zaanen.
Photo's: Lizzy van Zaanen.
The audience of Bring it on!. Photo's: Lizzy van Zaanen.