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Holland’s code policing the sponsorship of cultural activities

The code was devised as a response to the normalisation of corporate funding, which could cause an uneven distribution of aid based on changing tastes

Holland is unique among sponsor-active nations in having a formal code for the sponsorship of cultural activites. Published by the Ministry of Health and Cultural Affairs in November 1993 it was prompted by a concern expressed by the Ministry’s head, Mrs Hedy d’Ancona, that an imbalance was appearing between government and business support for the arts. In order to maintain “quality, diversity and accessibility” within arts policy in Holland as a whole the code lays down the following criteria.

• Artistic independence: sponsors will respect the artistic independence of those whom they fund.

• Accessibility: sponsored performances, exhibitions and presentations must, within reason, be suitable for a wide public.

• Administrative independence: sponsors must not meddle with administrative matters, but enable cultural institutions to operate as autonomously as possible.

• A reasonable quid pro quo: a fair correlation between the sponsor’s contribution and the cultural return provided.

That such a code is considered necessary reflects both the fact that sponsoring has become a regular source of funding for the arts in the Holland over the last twenty years and the fear that it is subject to the whims of cultural fashion and fluctations in the economy. In launching the code Mrs D’Ancona suggested that government cuts forced by the recession caused “outside influences to undermine the ideological approach to the funding of the arts”.