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Wealthy households less generous to culture

21 December 2021
Since 2011, donations to culture by wealthy Dutch people have decreased, despite the fact that making these donations has become more attractive from a tax perspective thanks to the 'Geefwet' (Giving Act). Cultural institutions in The Netherlands are raising more and more income from private sources, but remain heavily dependent on government subsidies. This is the result of research conducted by the Centre for Philanthropic Studies at VU Amsterdam.

The researchers charted how the giving behaviour and income of cultural institutions have changed since 2011. In 2012, the government made substantial cuts in the cultural sector. At the same time, private individuals were able to get deductions on income tax for donations to culture. Cultural institutions were also allowed to earn more income through entrepreneurial activities.    

Wealthy households less generous to culture despite Geefwet

Culture is not a very popular cause in The Netherlands to donate to. Only one in every ten households donates to culture. The share of culture in total donations is virtually unchanged since 2011. Wealthy households donate to culture more often but have been less likely to do so in recent years. Remarkable is that amongst wealthy households the use of donation deduction has risen, but the donations to culture haven't.

Big differences in funding mix amongst cultural institutions

The dependence on subsidies of the cultural institutions that have participated in the research in 2019 remains large. This was already the case before the effects of the covid pandemic rose. The funding mix of cultural institutions has thus not become more balanced since the introduction of the Geefwet and the cutbacks. 

Cultural institutions have become more entrepreneurial

Cultural institutions that have participated in the research have become more entrepreneurial. In their own words, these institutions have mostly become more innovative. The stance of cultural institutions towards independence of the government and collaboration with the business community has also become more positive. The researchers see that the larger cultural institutions are entrepreneurial and that entrepreneurial institutions have acquired more income from various sources. 

Incomes cultural institutions disrupted because of the pandemic; cultural institutions only partly resilient

In addition, the research shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the income, expenditure and activities of cultural institutions. The income from public activities and indirect income such as catering and renting has declined sharply. Fundraising does not appear to be a life-belt, because sponsor income and private income have generated little replacement. Subsidies, however, do appear to be a source of stability for cultural institutions in 2020. Cultural institutions appear to be resilient in offering new or adjusted activities, but less resilient when it comes to generating replacement income or reducing costs. 

Click here for more information about the research.