Curiosity without borders: revolution in Dutch art world

April 2008 -

More than 450 participants were drawn to the symposium "Curiosity without borders: towards a truly international culture policy" held in Rotterdam on 31 March 2008. A total of 23 entities were involved in the organisation. These included not only institutions involved with culture in development cooperation, but also organisations such as the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the Premsela Platform for Design and Fashion, the Netherlands Architecture Fund and the Mondriaan Foundation.

Minister Koenders during the event

When the deputy minister for Cultural Policy in the Netherlands called for a policy for the Netherlands that goes beyond national borders, he sounded utterly sincere: "Mexican author Octavio Paz says that culture is created by other cultures, grows from conflicts and then slowly dies in isolation. In this era of exclamation marks, we need to return to the question marks. With 800 million people in the West and 5.5 billion people on other continents, the time has come for cultural relationships between equals." Minister Koenders announced in his closing speech that an additional two million euros has been earmarked for culture and development. Upon accepting the collective Curiosity Manifesto, he promised to consult with the entities involved about this sum. Minister of Culture Plasterk was unable to attend.

With this event, the gap between competing cultural circuits appears to have been truly significantly reduced. The argumentation behind years of entrenched dogmas about the autonomy of art on the one hand and instrumental use of art on the other was disproved. Author / journalist Chris Keulemans was right in asserting that bringing all of these parties together constituted nothing less than a revolution. Certainly now that these parties have called upon the departments of Foreign Affairs, Development Cooperation and Education, Culture and Science to demonstrate more collective curiosity in the international cultural policy.

Read also the report on the website of the event [NL].