paradise debate

  • national institutions

On August 29th the annual Paradiso Debate took place in Amsterdam, bringing together artists, policy makers, politicians and the public. The theme for this edition was: recovery, innovation and the cultural and creative sector.

Organizer Kunsten '92 writes on its website: "The pandemic has exposed the pain points in the cultural and creative sector and society, magnified the differences and made the challenges of our time even more tangible. The position of the self-employed and makers is precarious, the need for change towards a more inclusive society is even greater and the climate crisis is becoming more alarming. Meanwhile, it will be some time before our sector has fully recovered from this hard blow.
How can we ensure that we come out of this crisis stronger and what can we take with us from the past eighteen months? What opportunities, challenges and tasks lie ahead of us? And how will the cultural and creative sector take up its essential role for society in order to face the crises of our time?"

How do we ensure that we come out of this crisis stronger and what do we take with us from the past eighteen months?

Invited to this Sunday afternoon pitchAmong those invited to give a talk or lecture were Marietje Schaake (director of the international policy Cyber Policy Center at Stanford University and former Member of the European Parliament), Ann Demeester (art critic and director of the Frans Hals Museum), Merlijn Twaalfhoven (composer and creative researcher of social problems), Imara Lemon (curator of the Amsterdam Museum), Franceso Veenstra (architect and future Chief Government Architect) and Wouter van Ransbeek (director of ITA). Moderator and presenter Aldith Hunkar spoke with a number of culture spokespersons in the Dutch Lower House (present were those of SP, PvdD, GroenLinks, VVD and D66).

The lectures in particular were interesting and provided good insights. The statements made by the politicians were hardly surprising; there should be a lot of talking and action, but they were not very concrete: there should be a recovery plan with a long-term vision that goes beyond four years, the knowledge agenda should be used, artists should be invited for talks, an extra 400 million should be added (D66) and more space should be offered at the edges of the system (SP).

The politicians' statements hardly surprised

No decision has yet been taken in The Hague about what will happen after the current support package comes to an end on 1 October. The culture spokespersons for SP, Party for the Animals, D66 and Green Left are in favour of extension ("inevitable") and will try to get this discussion onto the agenda in the coming period. VVD spokesperson Van Strien mainly kept a low profile and emphasized (once again) that a lot has been done for the sector in the form of measures and support.

Keep repeating to anyone who may or may not want to hear it: "art is essential"

The aforementioned speakers stressed in their pitches the necessity and urgency of the sector. Invest in culture, instead of subsidising it (Veenstra), culture belongs in the disc of five (Demeester). Demeester made an urgent appeal to all listeners to keep repeating to everyone who wants to hear it or not: "art is essential". Only if we keep doing that will more people realise this and start acting accordingly.

Lemon observed that the system lags behind the movements that exist and called on makers to enter politics. Van Twaalfhoven argued for the social importance of artists; their unique vision on social problems should not be lost. ITA director Van Ransbeek argued for the value of digital culture as an addition to the existing supply.

More information

Watch Paradise Debate 2021
Report on the site of Kunsten 92 

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