Readers of The New York Times may have been started to discover a striking full-page ad in the paper on Thursday. Not your typical movie advertisement or egg donor solicitation, this page read: “Do not enter the Netherlands – Cultural meltdown in progress.” The ad was placed by Dutch Artists 2011, a group of artists, arts professionals, and culture lovers opposed to the proposed €200 million art budget cuts in the Netherlands. The ad was just one tactical move in their larger, multi-pronged fight: last night, they gathered, several thousand strong, for what they called a “march for civilization.”
The 25km-long march began in front of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam and continued into the early morning. Approximately 2,000 to 3,500 people attended, and the march made the front page of several Dutch newspapers. The organization is also in the process of preparing another protest, to take place outside Dutch parliament in conjunction with the upcoming budget debate. The proposed arts budget will cut 70 percent of funding for public broadcasting, increase taxes on cultural tickets, and penalize institutions that fail to achieve “international stature.”
Dutch Artists 2011 are just one of many European arts groups banding together to protest culture cuts across the continent. Earlier this month, a group of eight British unions launched “Lost Arts,” a website that chronicles England’s arts budget cuts and its effects on culture professionals across the country.