national organizations/networks dealing with art education/cultural education

National Centre of Expertise for Cultural Education and Amateur Arts (LKCA):

Lectorate University of Amsterdam
Teacher training program:
Organisation of Higher (art)education
Knowledge centre art and culture education Rotterdam
Organisation art education in primary/secondary education Link to the Dutch organization VONKC for teachers in the domain of visual learning (in Dutch only) Link to the Dutch Institute for curriculum development SLO (in Dutch only)

national curriculum

Kunst & Cultuur

Stichting Leerplan Ontwikkeling

resources in arts education/ arts education national and international projects

publications about art education/cultural education


Other information

Arts and cultural education in the Netherlands

5.1 Policy and institutional overview
At the national level, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is responsible for arts and cultural education via legislation, subsidies and communication. Cultural education (arts and heritage orientation) in primary and secondary education is regulated by national law. ‘Arts orientation’ is a statutory learning domain in primary schools, laid down in law. Arts subjects in lower and upper secondary education also have legal status, as does the course Cultural and Artistic Education (CKV) that was introduced for upper secondary education in 1999. Statutory arts education at school (formal arts education) is funded as part of the general funding of schools by government.
In addition to the above legislation, the Ministry runs special (temporary) programmes to strengthen cultural education within primary and secondary schools. Whereas the focus of these extra programmes was initially on promoting (receptive) cultural participation through arts education at secondary schools, it shifted to improving the quality of arts education at primary schools with the programme Cultural Education with Quality (Cultuureducatie met Kwaliteit, 2013-2016). This programme has been extended in 2017 with an extra four years (until 2020) in order to make current projects sustainable and to reach more primary schools. One of the aims of the programme is to stimulate collaboration between primary education and the cultural field. There also is a separate progamme for music in primary schools (More Music in Class – Méér Muziek in de Klas) and funding for primary education in film, new media and heritage. Although the main focus of arts education policy is still on primary school, there is some attention for secondary education and it is expected that this attention will grow in the near future.
The Ministry works closely with the municipal and provincial authorities. The programme Cultural Education with Quality uses match funding or co-funding to stimulate local (+90 000 inhabitants) and provincial governments to invest in arts education in primary schools. A total of 46 local and provincial governments have received match funding out of this programme for the period 2017-2020. The Ministry also works with match funding to stimulate local governments to appoint one or more Culture Coaches who promote and coordinate the collaboration between primary schools and the cultural field. Another incentive used by the Ministry is the Covenant Culture and Education (Bestuurlijk Kader Cultuur en Onderwijs), which was signed in 2013 by the Ministry, 11 provinces, the 35 largest municipalities and the sector organisation of primary education (PO-Raad). The covenant contains various agreements on arts and cultural education for the period 2013-2023, such as the commitment of provinces and municipalities to promote local agreements between schools and cultural institutions.
Non-formal, out-of-school arts education is partly funded – to a diminishing extent – by the local government and partly privately funded (by consumers). It is supplied by private art teachers and amateur art organisations (choirs, brass bands, theatre-groups, etc.), by subsidised local ‘centres for the arts’ and by organisations and projects specialising in developing artistic talent. In recent decades, the national government had no policy on non-formal, out-of-school arts education. From 2019 onwards, out-of-school arts education seems to be back on the policy agenda and probably will be incorporated into the Ministry’s new policy programme Cultural Participation for the period 2021-2024. The Cultural Participation Fund is responsible for distributing the national funds for arts education and cultural participation. The National Centre of Expertise for Cultural Education and Amateur Arts (LKCA) collects, develops and circulates knowledge on arts and cultural education, and amateur arts. Both are funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

5.2 Arts in schools
In the Netherlands, primary schools are given full responsibility for the educational quality and are granted autonomy when it comes to their own curriculum. This applies to all subjects, including arts and culture. The quantity and quality of arts education differs greatly per school. Some schools have specialised art teachers (mainly for music education), but general teachers are responsible for arts and cultural education in most primary schools. Almost every school has one of its teachers trained as culture coordinator who is responsible for the cultural education policy of the school and who coordinates the contacts between the school and the cultural field.
However, the central government does take steps to facilitate the improvement of the quality of cultural education and in developing the primary school teacher’s competencies in this area. Since 2004, all primary schools receive extra funding annually for arts education (EUR 15,15 per pupil 2019) and are expected to have a school policy for cultural education. In 2020, more than half of all primary schools participate in and receive extra funding of the programme Cultural Education with Quality (Cultuureducatie met Kwaliteit). Within this programme, schools and cultural institutions work together on three aims regarding the improvement of cultural education in primary schools:

  • To develop and implement a long-term cultural education pathway instead of merely incidental cultural projects.
  • To improve the quality of general teachers, art teachers and educators at cultural institutions.
  • To strengthen the collaboration between schools and the cultural field.
    In the period 2017-2020, the programme receives EUR 10 million annually from the national government, matched with the same amount by provincial and local governments. Between 2015 and 2018, an extra EUR 27 million is invested in music education with the subsidy scheme Impulse Music Education (Impuls Muziekonderwijs) as part of the programme for more music in schools (More Music in Class – Méér Muziek in de Klas). This funding enables more than 1600 primary schools to train the teachers and work together with organisations from the music industry, such as music schools, brass bands, orchestras and pop music venues. Part of this programme is also the stimulation of cooperation between conservatories and teacher training institutes.
    Like primary schools, secondary schools are autonomous in shaping their curriculum and their cultural education. In secondary school, however, examination requirements for art lessons are in place. For all pupils in upper secondary education (age 15-18), Cultural and Artistic Education (CKV) is compulsory since 1999. In the school year 2017-2018, a new course CKV has started, which aims at an active art experience. A major difference with the old course is that students conduct research on (parts of) an artistic creative process, which will be examined and graded. Upper secondary pupils can opt for art as an exam subject. Art is divided into general arts and separate arts disciplines (visual arts visual, dance, drama, music). Pupils select one discipline within arts, provided the school offers this as an elective. The art discipline course has a practical and a theoretical component. About 14 percent of the pupils in secondary education take an exam in an art subject. This percentage has been declining over the last decade.
    In 2015, the Ministry started a process for a curriculum revision in primary and secondary education. The goal is to adapt education to the knowledge and skills that people need in the near future. New curricula are now being designed and tested for nine learning areas, including one for arts and culture.

5.3 Higher arts and cultural education
Dutch art academies or schools of arts are higher professional education institutions (universities for applied sciences) for vocational education and training (for example the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht and the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam). They offer courses in architecture, fine art, media, film, photography, heritage, design, music, dance and theatre, intended to lead to a career as a professional artist, arts educator or entrepreneur in the arts. Courses are predominantly offered at a bachelor level, but the amount of master level courses has increased in the last ten years. Currently, there is a discussion on the development of an arts PhD, based on arts-related research. All academies have professors to stimulate research in the different fields of the arts.
In order to improve the connection between arts education and the labour market, the Dutch Association of Universities of Applied Sciences created a sector plan in 2011 with several performance based indicators. With this plan, the requirements for admission have been tightened and numerous courses were restructured to improve the efficiency and quality of higher education in the arts. An additional goal is to improve the facilities for young talent and top talent. The sector plan had a follow up in the agenda for arts education (KUO Next), which is intended to stimulate the discussion on and the development of arts courses at the academies. Universities also offer theoretical and research-oriented courses related to the arts for bachelor-, master- and PhD-students. Technical universities offer courses in industrial design and architecture (for example the Eindhoven University of Technology).

5.4 Out-of-school arts and cultural education
Approximately two million children, young people and adults in the Netherlands occasionally or regularly take art classes, courses or workshops as a leisure activity.14 Out-of-school arts education is provided by professional arts and cultural institutions (e.g. museums, theatre companies, etc.), local arts education centres and music schools, and many private/independent arts teachers and artists. Part of these out-of-school suppliers also engage in arts and heritage education projects and programmes for and with schools.
The last decade, many municipalities have cut the budgets for non-formal arts education at subsidised arts education centres and music schools. As a result, centres and schools were forced to reduce their offers while many had to close their doors altogether or went bankrupt. The impact of these developments has been subject to debate. The first issue is the impact on participation in voluntary arts, including out-of-school arts education. Subsides suppliers of arts lessons, courses and workshops cover less than 20 percent of the market. More than 60 percent is covered by private arts teachers and artists.15 This percentage is rising, because the decrease of subsidised supply increases the demand for private arts teachers and artists and for joining amateur art associations (e.g. choirs and theatre groups) and informal voluntary arts initiatives. The second issue, connected to the first, refers to the affordability of arts lessons for low-income groups. The third issue is quality standards and diversity of supply. There is fear that the quality and diversity (e.g. lessons in playing less popular instruments) will decrease. The fourth issue deals with the labour market position of the private arts teachers and artists. Many of these teachers have low income and are forced to cut back on insurance and pensions. As the number of private arts teachers is increasing, the matter becomes more urgent. Many art teachers continue to be self-employed, as there are hardly any subsidised arts education centres that offer permanent contracts. Lastly, the fifth issue – related to the fourth – is the sustainability of the infrastructure for non-formal arts education.
Cultuurconnectie (Culture connection) is the Dutch national association for subsidised employers in non-formal arts education and for Volksuniversiteiten (institutes for adult education). It brings together local arts education centres, music schools and provincial support institutes for arts and culture. In 2019, Cultuurconnectie has 145 members. The member base of Cultuurconnectie slimmed down increasingly in the past few decades. There is no separate association for private arts teachers and artists giving workshops and courses for amateurs. However, there are private platforms that have registered many independent arts education suppliers, for example All Art Professionals.
14 Neele, Arno, Zöe Zernitz and Teunis IJdens. 2017. Voluntary Arts in the Netherlands 2017: Practitioners and Facilities. Utrecht: LKCA.
15 IJdens, Teun. 2016. Voluntary Arts in the Netherlands 2015: Practitioners and Facilities. Utrecht: LKCA. Neele, Arno, Zöe Zernitz and Teunis IJdens. 2017. Voluntary Arts in the Netherlands 2017: Practitioners and Facilities. Utrecht: LKCA.

5.5 Vocational and professional training
The art academies or schools of arts offer teacher trainings in art subjects as taught in primary and secondary education: visual arts, music, dance and drama. Completing the training allows teachers to work in all fields of formal education. Some arts courses offer small modules in teaching, oriented on the non-formal field where no teaching permit is required. This is especially the case in the field of music but can also be found in other art courses. Universities offer teacher trainings in the theoretical field of visual art and music for permits to teach in upper secondary education. General teacher trainings offer modules in different art subjects as part of their programmes as well.