Museums hard hit by budget cuts

POSTED: 05/9/12 2:07 PM

AMSTERDAM – The massive budget deficit and the cuts pushed through by the Rutte government have affected everyone in the Netherlands but art and culture budgets have been particularly hard-hit. Despite the millions of tourists who visit museums in the Dutch capital every year, Amsterdam’s premier modern art museum could be facing serious financial difficulties.

The Stedelijk Museum has been closed for renovations for several years now and was forced to move its collection from temporary home to temporary home. Its reputation has suffered and tourists coming to Amsterdam have been disappointed to find a building site where once a fabulous modern art museum stood. The completion date for the renovations was put back time after time, but it is now due to re-open in September of this year.

It hasn’t been an easy few years but things could get worse: Amsterdam’s Arts Council says the Stedelijk is facing a €4 million ($5.2 million) hole in its budget. The museum requested a €15.5 million ($20.2 million) subsidy for the 2013 to 2016 period, but the Art Council has advised lowering the Stedelijk Museum’s budget from €12.5 million ($16.3 million) to just €11.6 million ($15.1 million)for the next subsidy period.

The Arts Council pointed out that €4 million hole in the Stedelijk’s budget is far greater than the entire budget given to dozens of other cultural organizations in the capital including the National Ballet, Paradiso and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). The Arts Council says if the Stedelijk’s entire request were to be met, other organizations would face massive cuts.

In a statement, the Stedelijk said the extra funding is necessary because the new building is twice as large as the old one and the exhibition space is 70 percent larger. The museum authority’s also pointed out that the renovations were over budget by €2 million ($2.6 million) and said the city council, which owns the museum, needed to take responsibility for those costs. The museum also pointed out that if it has to implement major cutbacks as well as pay for the over-budget renovations, it would seriously affect the museum’s acquisitions, programs and collection.


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